Questions about soccer

While watching the Argentina/Iran match, I’m seeing things I don’t understand.

Iranian player #6: What does his black armband denote?

Why do the bench players have to wear little-kids-painting smocks?

Are there language barriers to players communicating with officials, or are officials chosen who are lingual with both sides? Is there a common language that everyone learns soccer terms in, say French?

Was the Argentine player who pulled out the flag in the corner of the pitch penalized in any way? He seemed to be doing it out of frustration.

The armband is to show who is the captain.

I guess that is to identify who is a player and who is just staff; probably having to do with being allowed to warm up in the warm up area.

Yes of course, but somehow players always manage to show they are displeased. I’d say many players/refs speak multiple languages, but it isn’t a strict necessity.

He could have been, but I think the ref let it slide because he has every reason to be frustrated (better take the flag out for a second, than to make a silly challenge).

Bench players wear the smocks so that they can warm up by the field without confusing the referees by being in uniform (might really mess up an offside call if they see someone far side in uniform).

The World Cup refs are all required to speak English to some extent. However, the actual level of ability in English varies.

There is sort of a common language of soccer (football) terms, and, because of the game’s history, it’s English. I’m pretty sure every soccer player on the planet understands the essential English terms useful for communicating with the ref, such as “penalty”, “corner”, “offside”, “f**** wanker”, etc. They may well be using those terms in their various languages, instead of local terms.

There are also universally understood gestures such as:

  • he dived! (both hands make a diving gesture)
  • book him, ref (waving an imaginary card)
  • I didn’t do anything (both hands outstretched, palms upwards)

What’s with the whistling? Are they booing? It seemed to stop when the goal was scored by Germany.

I didn’t see enough of that game to answer why, specifically there was whistling but soccer fans whistle for a couple of reasons.

  1. Jeering, booing. Normally they do this if they have a particular dislike of an opposition player, perhaps because he fouled one of their guys and got away with it or…whatever.

  2. Also jeering and booing at their own team if they feel they have performed poorly.

  3. Near the end of the game, fans of the winning team might start whistling in order to hurry the ref up in blowing full time. This is most likely to happen when the game is close.

You also tend to hear it if the crowd think a team is passing the ball around at the back too much instead of moving it forward, or if they think a player is time-wasting in a close match (i.e. faking an injury, goalkeeper dicking around setting up a goal kick, player conducting major surgical operation to tie shoes or taking several geological eras to get off the field after being substituted, etc.).

During the Greece-Colombia game, the ref is doing his Banksy with the vanishing spray in preparation for a free kick. The commentator says something like “That marks the spot behind which the Colombians must stand… and presumably the Greeks too”.

But what is fact the rule, can an attacker stand in between the wall and the spot, when clearly he may stand within 10 metres to the side or behind?

Just a nitpick, but one that feeds into English being the language of football: the distance isn’t 10 metres, it’s defined as 10 yards*, along with the 6 yard line, the 18 yard line etc. When the home countries were first setting the rules of the game, they were still using imperial. As an aside, the dimensions of the overall pitch aren’t set in stone, there are maxima and minima with regard to length and width
, although FIFA has an ideal size they hope to move towards, and I think they might even enforce it now for World Cups.

  • the official rules also give the dimensions in metric

The rules only say the defenders must be 10 yards (9.1 metres) away.
I’ve seen free kicks in the World Cup where one or two attackers run at the ball and step over it before another player finally takes the kick (At this point, there are attacking players in front of the ball and within 10 yards.)

An attacking player can stand between the ball and the wall, but in practice they never do since in most cases they’d be obstructing their own player’s shot.

Well naturally they’d move at the appropriate time (knowing beforehand what the plan is), but meanwhile they’re obstructing the vision of the keeper and the “bricks”, which may impart some advantage.

After the first half and at the end of 90 minutes, sometimes a few minutes are added. Who determines it, and how is it calculated?

Injury time, not extra time, which is used to break a draw in elimination matches. It is calculated by the referee to take into account stoppages due to fouls and injuries. Usually it’s about 3 minutes.

And substitutions and various other things. I think the recommendation is to add on 30 seconds per substitution, not that they ever seem to add that much time for those time-wasting substitutions that take place in injury time itself.

There’s not much point in blocking the view of the ‘bricks’: they don’t really have time to react anyway. And standing in front of the wall won’t block the view of the goalkeeper any more than the wall already has.

You do sometimes see an offensive player try to get himself in the middle of the wall, or on one end, planning to jump out of the way and hope the ball goes through the empty space he just left.