UPDATE: As many of you fine commenters pointed out, I was totally wrong about the time and situation. I apologize for that mistake. But I do think most of the points remain, with the exception of the paragraph that begins “Furthermore…” Thanks for getting me honest, everyone.
ORIGINAL POST: In a match against Napoli, substitute Miroslav Klose entered with his Lazio club down 3-0. He scored four minutes later. Except he didn’t.
The German international appeared to put the ball past Morgan De Sanctis, but he hit it with his hand. Chaos ensued, Klose admitted his misdeed, and play continued without the goal counting. The final scoreline: 3-0.
The internet is all ablaze with people praising Klose for his heroic performance. I’m not picking on the New York Times, but here’s a link that sums up the effusiveness.
So, okay, I get it: Klose did the honorable thing. But… did he really? It’s pretty clear he intentionally hit the ball with his hand. In my mind, admitting you cheated after the fact is not the same as not cheating in the first place. I credit him for saying what happened — that is admirable — but I’d give him more credit for not hitting the ball with his hand in the first place. (Of course, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.)
Furthermore, it came late in a match that was already lost. I wonder if Klose would have owned up so quickly if it were the winning goal. I’m not saying he wouldn’t; I’m just saying pressure does funny things to people even when they have every intention of acting honorably. (Hey Mr. Henry.)
While we’re here, the whole “players calling themselves on infractions the refs missed” thing bothers me, too. It undermines the official’s authority: “You can’t do your job, so I’ll do it for you.” That seems like a slippery slope.
This is, I admit, a harsh reading of the situation. Klose deserves some praise for his actions; I’m just not sure we should hand out the “Honorable Footballer of the Year” award quite yet.
Watch the video and see for yourself: