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Neutral ball boys needed in Argentina?

April 28, 2009

It is becoming a familiar trend in Argentine domestic football. The home team is winning by a single goal, the clock is ticking….and suddenly all the balls have disappeared and visiting players have to go searching for them.

The latest incident happened on Sunday during River’s match at home to lowly Gimnasia-Jujuy. One of the ball boys took his time in returning the ball to visiting goalkeeper Gaston Pezzutti, who angrily hurled it at the youth and was sent off.

It was a four-edged punishment for Gimnasia, who had to bring on a substitute keeper, reshuffle their team, play with a man down and lose precious seconds.

No action, however, was taken against River apart from the dismissal of the ball boy.

A similar controversy blew up earlier this month in the derby between Gimnasia-La Plata (the first division has two clubs whose full names are Gimnasia y Esgrima, one from La Plata and one from the northern city of Jujuy) and Estudiantes.

With Gimnasia 1-0 ahead in the second half, the balls mysteriously went missing. The referee added on six minutes of injury-time, Estudiantes equalised with the last kick of the game and Gimnasia even had the cheek to protest about the amount of time added on.

Ball boys are currently supplied by the home teams and are often apprentice professionals, as was the case at River on Sunday.

The idea of neutral ball boys has been discussed. Some say the fourth official should make sure there are enough balls and others have suggested that ball boys who are sent off should be suspended from youth level matches.

But, with nearly one coach losing his job a week in the first division alone, the demand for success in Argentina is so high that teams are almost certain to think up even more cunning ways of gaining an advantage if the current practice is stamped out.

Comments

I remember a similar cunning plan at Goodison Park a few seasons back when Everton went 1-0 up late on against Manchester United. The multi-ball system suddenly disappeared. MOTD cameras captured the Everton kitman going round to all the ball boys and putting all the extra balls in to a bag, leaving just the match ball in play.
On another note Brian, are you still living in Rio? Last time I saw you would have been on Ipanema one typical Sunday afternoon in 1997. Is Batista still running his bar at Post 9? Genius that man. Cold beers all afternoon followed by a free caipirinha for being loyal customers. Genius.

Posted by Robert Baldwin | Report as abusive
 

The keeper was right to hurl the ball at the deliberately hesitating boy. If you look closer at the dodger, it was evedent he was feeling guilty.

Posted by vava | Report as abusive
 

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