Zapruder Analysis of Kuwaiti Soccer Ref Punching a Player
Fan scorn, player arguments, maybe even a little physicality. Those things are all, unfortunately, part of the officiating experience.
Photo by Margaret Downing A dangerous game -- for referees.
Whether it's an umpire in baseball, a referee in basketball or any of the various officiating positions on a football field, the whole thing can be a thankless gig.
But there's thankless and then there's dangerous, and no athletic arbiter is put in the way of physical harm on a game-in, game-out basis more than the soccer referee, the dutiful punching bag of sociopaths globally.
Seriously, go do a YouTube search on "soccer ref attacked." You get video footage of referees being physically abused, like a felony box set, with the end result ranging anywhere from a coma to an actual beheading.
So it's about time that soccer referees exercise some vigilante justice. All they needed was someone to break the ice.
To that end, meet Saad Al Fadhli!
Al Fadhli is a referee in the Kuwaiti premier league, and in a recent game he called a penalty kick against one of the teams, which, yes, is kind of a big deal within the relative parameters of the game itself, but certainly not a big enough deal to begin to physically harm anybody.
But it's soccer. In Kuwait. So let's get physical!
Here's how it all went down, with Zapruder analysis following...
0:16 -- Just your garden-variety, friendly neighborhood professional soccer game in Kuwait, with two teams whose mascots I'm unsure of, so let's call the maroon team the Camels and the green team the Oilers. Those things sound "Kuwaiti."
0:19 -- A ball is played forward into the penalty area to an Oiler forward who gets gently nudged by a Camel defender. Naturally, the Oiler forward goes down in a heap, flailing like his heart was pierced by a razor dart shot from point blank range. Because, well, soccer. Al Fadhli
falls for it and calls a penalty kick. (Coincidentally and simultaneously, the Utah Jazz call the Oiler forward's agent to see if he's played any basketball before.)
0:22 -- A bystander Camel gently pushes the referee in the back, which in our hemisphere would get him suspended for the rest of the season. In Kuwait, it may very well get him a shoe contract, for all we know. I have no idea. I just know that with that nudge, the physicality floodgates opened and Al Fadhli, all of a sudden, has half the Camel roster surrounding him like a Kuwaiti version of the Cobra Kai.
0:27 -- Six Camel players (plus the goalkeeper) are now in the screen and they are nose to nose (times six) with Al Fadhli. Keep an eye on number 11 on the Camels, who is hanging onto Al Fadhli's right arm...wait for it....wait for it....
0:33 -- POW! Well, more like lowercase "pow." A glancing blow off of number 11's chin and he sells it like Al Fadhli is Kermit Washington and he's Rudy T.
0:35 -- Kuwaiti Rudy T is writhing in pain on the ground, and like literally every soccer player on the face of the earth who has gone down injured before him, he will stay down long enough to sell the blow.
0:36 -- Meanwhile, Al Fadhli (which must be Kuwaiti for "incensed pit bull") is being held back by the Camel goalkeeper from inflicting more damage on the Camel roster. And around the world, every other soccer referee felt a tremor in The Force as Al Fadhli struck the shot heard 'round world, a brand-new license for soccer referees to fire a pre-emptive strike at comas, beheadings and blunt-force trauma.
0:44 - Oh, wow, look who's up and running around, eight seconds after being "dropped" like a bad habit. Kuwaiti Rudy T is sprinting back over at Al Fadhli, who manages to take a toe poke at Rudy T's nuts. The nut kick is funny, but be mindful of the loaded weapon in Al Fadhli's right hand. Again, wait for it...wait for it...
0:48 -- RED CARD! Take 'at, Rudy T!