How is wrestling at corners interpreted in different European leagues? | Guardian wri

Jonathan Wilson

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Aug 1, 2010
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Juventus' Champions League grappling with Celtic players left Neil Lennon apoplectic, but is the issue just a British obsession?
Celtic manager Neil Lennon says he wants to know how other countries treat pushing at corners. We ask our correspondents.
[h=2]England and Scotland[/h]The antics during corner kicks at Celtic Park on Tuesday night gained wider prominence because they are generally unusual, certainly to that extent, in British fixtures. Juventus had clearly highlighted Celtic's ability to score from corners and took strong moves to avoid any repeat, a matter highlighted by a complacent referee. The sight of defenders holding attackers at corners is an ugly one, a curse in football, and easily fixed should match officials – including those behind the goal – take proper action against it. All too often referees seem scared to set the example which would force defenders to rethink their grappling approach. Ewan Murray
[h=2]France[/h]In the summer before the start of the 2006-07 season, Ligue 1 authorities announced their intention to "clean up" penalty areas and circulated a DVD to every club showing examples of the sort of infringement on which they would henceforth clamp down, with particular emphasis on shirt-tugging and holding at corners. The Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Mario Yepes appeared to have difficulty adapting to the new hard line and conceded four penalties in the first five matches of the season, including two in the clásico against Marseille. PSG protested that he was being picked on but Marc Batta, the head of referees, dismissed such claims and said officials would continue to apply the letter of Law 12 of the game. "If they have to blow for five penalties in every match, then the referees will do it," said Batta. As is so often the case, the initial zeal faded and now offenders in France seem no more likely to be punished. Paul Doyle
[h=2]Germany[/h]Wrestling at corners is generally frowned upon by German referees. They are more inclined to award a foul, either way, if it carries on after the ball is in play. This acts as a deterrent. But there is also less need for it, as few teams systematically target goalkeepers at corners the way that British sides now routinely do; goalkeepers are much better protected, especially in the six-yard box. Last night's problem was not so much about interpretation but about both sides maxing out the leeway under the existing rules. Since the ball needs to be in play for a penalty to be awarded, grappling before the kick is de-facto legal. Maybe it is something the International Football Association Board needs to look at. Raphael Honigstein
[h=2]Italy[/h]Unfortunately the discourse around refereeing in Italy is such that the answer you would get most often to this question is probably: 'It depends which team you're playing against'. Application of certain laws can be inconsistent from one referee to the next, and while there may be some greater leniency around wrestling at corners my inclination would be to say that it is more a case of Italian defenders being willing to try their luck. In all countries referees tend to be more hesitant about awarding penalties than they would be giving a free-kick outside the box. Players take advantage of that fact, suspecting, often correctly, that a bit of wrestling inside the box, while not strictly legal, will rarely look blatant enough to the naked eye for the referee to feel 100% certain of his decision. Paolo Bandini
[h=2]Russia[/h]If you are English and ask anybody in Russia about wrestling at corners, the discussion inevitably turns to a World Cup qualifier in Ljubljana in 2001. With the score at 1-1, Slovenia won a last-minute corner. The referee, Graham Poll, twice prevented it being taken to warn Russian defenders about shirt holding. When the corner finally came in, Viacheslav Daev tussled with Zeljko Milinovic and Poll, his patience gone, gave a penalty. While shirt-pulling and wrestling certainly goes on in the Russian league, the hangover from that decision means that it is seen as very much a British obsession. Jonathan Wilson
[h=2]Scandinavia[/h]Referees in Sweden, Norway and Denmark will be very careful before they give a penalty for grappling. Having said that, it is rare that you see such obvious wrestling as we did at Celtic Park. I fear that a Scandinavian referee would have done what the Spanish one did on Tuesday night: book the offending players fairly early on and then close your eyes and hope that nothing more happens. It seems that shirt-pulling is a more acceptable offence to punish by referees – and that is a good thing – but we seem a long way away from being able to deal with two players blatantly holding on to each other. In northern Europe and elsewhere. Marcus Christenson
[h=2]Spain[/h]It happens constantly in Spain and referees have this habit, which I have never really understood, of seeing it happen and stopping the game before the corner is taken. They then run over and tell the offending players not to do it before whistling for the corner to be taken. At which point, it tends to happen again. But while a warning is often given, a penalty virtually never is. Referees tend to take the easy option: a foul by the attacker. Sid Lowe
Ewan Murray
Paul Doyle
Raphael Honigstein
Paolo Bandini
Jonathan Wilson
Marcus Christenson
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The best wrestling move in a corner is probably the Stink Face that Rikishi used to do. Oh imagine the horror!