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Thursday, February 09, 2006

"There are no opportune times for a penalty, and this is not one of those times."

Today's lowlight was the ugly Espanyol v Deportivo match, which featured one dubious penalty for each side. Again, acting was partly to blame. The second instance was particularly egregious: two players went up for the same header in the Deportivo box, the ball fell between them, their heads barely touched, if at all, yet the Espanyol player curled up on the ground in mock pain to have Coloccini sent off. Truly disgusting.

More notable but just as crummy was last night's slugfest between UNAM Pumas and Nacional of Uruguay in the Copa Libertadores. Pumas used to be the team one looked to for the dignified, workmanlike spirit in Mexican football. That reputation lasted up through the coaching tenure of national hero Hugo Sanchez, but apparently it has now deserted the club.

At one point, a Pumas defender punched an offensive player in the face while jumping for a header. Later, another Pumas defender tried to pull a Nacional player's shorts down when he couldn't win a ball near the corner flag.

TDH has been asking the locals here in Buenos Aires how Latins with such an appreciation of machismo can countenance these despicable, contemptuous practices. The answer so far: players will do anything to win. It's almost as though sacrificing that treasured machismo in the name of victory is a noble thing.

How screwed up is that, TDH would like to know.


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