As we have seen on several occasions on this blog, a wonderful piece of individual skill or brilliance is all it takes to win a game. A drop of the shoulder, a slight touch and a powerful shot into the back of the net can turn the hardest of players into soppy messes as the celebrate the genius that they have just witnessed. Gaining the admiration of your teammates is one of the highs of being a footballer and part of a team. But it’s not very often that your have been congratulated by the man in black with the whistle as well?
Referees have a front row seat to some of the most spectacular moments in footballing history but they are taught to control their emotions and never show appreciation for what they have just witnessed. That was the general rule but for the referee in charge of a recent match between Sociedad Sportiva Devoto v Almafuerte of the Torneo Argentino C league, Argentina’s 5th division, he couldn’t help but congratulate one of the SS Devoto team for scoring. Rather than being shunned by his fellow officials, referee Mariano Gonzalez has received plaudits in Argentina after congratulating Sociedad Sportiva Devoto forward Nicolas Barbero on a wonder goal against Almafuerte.
Barbero has a reputation within the team for spectacular goals but this one in particular was impressive. After watching Barbero twist and turn on the edge of the area before gently lobbing the stranded goalkeeper in a wonderful example of close control and technique, Gonzalez walked calmly towards Barbero and his celebrating teammates and extended his hand in appreciation of the strikers goal. The two then strolled back to the centre circle, talking briefly about the goal.
You are unlikely to see this happen in the English Premiership or German Bundesliga, where referees distance themselves from the players as much as possible to avoid complicating proceedings or hearing calls of bias for one team over another but in the lower leagues in Argentina, Gonzalez knew he would face no punishment for his actions. After all, the only thing he did was recognise a brilliant passage of play and a fantastic goal in the manner that you or i would as well. Afterall, referees are only human, well most of the time.
To see the goal that deserved a handshake, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uovevTwuGzM