Ball boys in Spain are under scrutiny for using dirty tricks to give the home teams a boost. Real Zaragoza’s 1-0 win over Almeria was marred, explains Paul Logothetis, by the latest example of what seems to be a growing trend -- throwing extra balls onto the field in order to stop play. Twice, extra balls bounced onto the field with the hosts clinging to a 1-0 lead in the game’s final minutes.
Two weeks ago a ball flew out of the Zaragoza dugout as the relegation-battling club held on for a 2-1 victory over Getafe. Similar time-wasting tactics were employed during Sevilla’s 3-2 win over Villarreal on Sunday and Real Madrid’s visit to Osasuna in January.
One video replay clearly shows a ballboy throwing another ball onto the field at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium as Villarreal pushed upfield late in the game. Another ball was launched onto the field from the tunnel above Villarreal’s goal. Zaragoza and Osasuna were fined $877.
Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez nudged over a ballboy after he hesitated in handing the ball over. Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munua, while playing at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, contended with ball boys who wasted time and often let the balls land short when Munua asked for them.