The problem with unwritten rules is that you never really know when it’s okay to break them.
This problem was on full display in Peru on Sunday when a goalkeeper collapsed to the ground and dropped the ball only for an attacking player to capitalize on the opportunity and score an ill-gotten goal. The incident occurred during a Primera Division (first division) game between Union Comercio and Universidad Cesar Vallejo.
With his team losing 2-1 in the second half, Union goalkeeper Juan Flores had just recovered a loose ball when he started to stumble (we later learned it was because of heat exhaustion) near the mouth of the goal. He initially held onto the ball after falling, but he let it go.
The referee didn’t stop play, so two players — a Union defender and Cesar Vallejo striker Piero Alva — ran for the loose ball. The defender tried to clear it, but it deflected off of Alva and went into the net.
When a soccer player goes down with an injury, it’s customary for the attacking team to play the ball out of bounds so he or she can receive medical attention. The defending team usually kicks it back to the team that was attacking and the game resumes in anger.
We won’t try to hold Alva up as a model of sportsmanship or fair play, but we won’t condemn him either. His explanation for scoring was simply too good.
“Football is for the living,” the Guardian reports Alva said after the game.
See Alva’s illicit goal in the video below.