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The Snood Factor: Why Colorado, and not KC, should be in the Eastern Conference Final
by Paul Gardner, November 4th, 2011 12:51PM

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TAGS:  colorado rapids, kansas city wizards, mls

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By Paul Gardner

As far as I can discover, there is no specific FIFA rule that would prevent goalkeepers from making asses of themselves. Maybe there should be, as they clearly have some sort of inbuilt facility that enables them to excel on the idiocy front.

Quite aside from all that purple-faced apoplectic ranting and raving (most of it, whatever the self-serving goalkeeper coaches may tell you, done for the television cameras) there is the matter of dress. Attire. Uniforms.

Of course, the rules almost invite eccentricity here, by commanding that the goalkeeper must wear “colors that distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referee. That is, from the other players of both teams -- and I suppose we can now add “additional assistant referees” to the list of people whom goalkeepers must not look like.

During Euro 96 English goalkeeper David Seaman pushed that to what one hopes is its ultimate absurdity by appearing in a nighmarish shirt (or is that what the rules call a jersey?) featuring blotches of various lurid colors splashed all over it without any noticeable design qualities. A shirt that may have terrified opponents, but not enough to see England to victory in Euro 96.

As for MLS, in its early days the Mexican goalie Jorge Campos turned out in startling shirts that confirmed what we already know about famous Mexican muralists -- that they are masters in the use of bright colors. Campos didn’t last long in MLS.

I want to draw attention to a more recent example of bizarre goalkeeper sartorial fashion in MLS. Just two days ago, in fact, in the Kansas City vs. Colorado game, you may have noticed the Kansas goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen, looking rather twerpish with what looked like a bath-towel wrapped, rather loosely, around his neck.

It was not a bath towel. It was a snood. A what? Well, quite. My dictionary has several definitions of a snood -- all concerned with devices or clothing to keep hair in place. None of them mentions goalkeepers or neckwear.

But snood was the name that got used in England earlier this year when these unsightly garments started to appear on players in the Premier League -- Carlos Tevez and Sami Nasri were two prominent devotees of the snood. The idea, I gather, was to counter the dangers of the cold, damp English weather.

With almost unheard-of haste FIFA got involved. The great snood debate turned up on the agenda of IFAB, FIFA’s rule-making body. Actually, I made up that bit about a great debate. IFAB didn’t bother to debate the matter. In no time at all, IFAB had issued its verdict: Snoods were out. Banned, with immediate effect.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter quickly dismissed the whole thing: “There was not even a discussion, because this is not part of the uniform.” True, Rule 4 (Players’ Equipment) contains no mention of snoods. But Blatter found another, and rather ominous, reason for banishing the snood -- that it is “dangerous — it can be like to hang somebody.”

No snoods, then. Yet here was Nielsen playing an entire game sporting a prominent snood. Apparently no one noticed, or saw anything wrong with that. Certainly not referee Kevin Stott.

As if Colorado, racked with injuries, didn’t have enough problems, they now had to face Nielsen the Snood, an opponent wearing illegal equipment for the full game, in full view, and in full violation of an absolutely specific FIFA ban.

I have now given this matter my full attention and have reached certain conclusions -- which, as it happens I’m not happy with, as I have no reason to want to prolong the presence of Colorado (not my favorite team, not at all) in the playoffs.

However that may be, I suggest that Colorado should lodge a protest with MLS, requesting that the result of that game against Kansas City be nullified -- on the grounds that Kansas goalkeeper Nielsen was wearing illegal equipment for the entire game (they could also add, for my satisfaction, that he looked ridiculous, but that might not cut any ice with MLS).

Colorado should then demand that the game be awarded to them on a forfeit. The usual score for forfeit games is, I think 3-0. Now that, as you can see, would give Colorado a 3-2 aggregate score victory over Kansas City, and thereby propelling them into the Eastern Conference final against Houston.

And if that doesn’t happen, then I must ask MLS to act on aesthetic grounds, and to assure us that we’ve seen the last of Nielsen’s ridiculous snood get-up.



5 comments
  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: November 4, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
    Ha-ha and ho! Hey Paul, careful now as some readers may not understand your usually staid and dry Brit humor, that is what it is! Though why didn't you focus on your fellow-countryman's dry and booorish play-by-play announcing such as last night's "anemic duo" that did the LA/NY game? See, I've even forgotten their names, gee-willikers it was gawd-awful, their constant and non-stop nattering reduced me to tears trying to explain to my wife why ESPN insists on having Brits (of sizes, stripes, and annoying language tilts) will perhaps never be known... Jeez, I'd rather have had Alejando Moreno and Eric Wynalda calling the game, after all though Moreno is Venezuelan, he does understand the MLS scene, and Waldo is usally good for some truthful insight. Any how, Paul, methinks that you fell asleep at the tv remote while preparing this piece, so what say you mate?

  1. Glenn Auve
    commented on: November 4, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.
    well, the Laws also prohibit jewelry, but at the MLS level there has never been any apparent effort to make players remove necklaces or anything like that.

  1. Michael Scappator
    commented on: November 4, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
    Bro! Why you be hating on the Snood? Maybe Jimmy was just protecting the pipes for a solo with the Choir in church this Sunday.

  1. Mike Torry
    commented on: November 5, 2011 at 12:47 a.m.
    I dislike you so very much. Snoods are a fashion don't. Agreed. But your "get in!" tone is outdated and utterly useless. I struggle to find a reason you are employed in your current capacity. The name of the club is Sporting Kansas City. I'm sure the 1966 world cup was a fine one.

  1. Cathie Currie, ph.d.
    commented on: November 5, 2011 at 10:10 p.m.
    I agree, a 'snood' is not part of a uniform. It's a distraction, and could be dangerous -- especially the loopy version Nielsen wore. The more fitted version in UK newspaper photos on the FIFA ban is a called a 'neck gaiter' -- typical cross country ski gear. Feet are not supposed to be at our necks in a game, but they manage to get up close and personal from time to time. And yes, the probability is somewhere beyond one in a million that a wayward kick will catch in a gaiter, but the result could be dramatically life-threatening. The counterargument about jewelry does not hold. I haven't yet heard of a lethal earlobe rip -- but the rule should always be enforced. After having seen an earlobe rip, anyone with any sense would remove their jewelry . . . but that leaves a lot of room for 'tude. I always told my players that the removal signaled respect for the game and for their opponents. Never had an argument after I put it that way. Speaking of 'tude: Mr. Torry. Why bother to read someone who antagonizes you by his each and every word? Give your bp a break there fella . . . Paul Gardner is published because many readers want to hear what he says!


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