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Capello blames laser for distracting goalkeeper on goal that eliminated Russia

Jun 26, 2014, 11:02 PM EDT

Russia's head coach Fabio Capello shouts and gestures during the group H World Cup soccer match between Algeria and Russia at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) AP

Between his howler against South Korea and misjudging a cross against Algeria, Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev appeared to cost his team four points at the 2014 World Cup. Instead of going home with two draws and a third place finish, Russia could have been through Group H in second place if the CSKA veteran performed to his standards. When the Russian federation looks for reasons why its team disappointed in Brazil, Akinfeev and head coach Fabio Capello will come into focus.

After Russia’s Thursday draw with Algeria, however, Capello put another factor into focus. According to the former Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid boss, Russia’s goalkeeper was distracted by a laser pointed at his face while trying to defend the 60th minute ball Islam Slimani headed home – the goal that cost Russia a spot in the tournament’s knockout round.

From the BBC:

“The goalkeeper was unable to do his job. The laser beam was in his face,” said ex-England manager Capello.

“He was blinded by the laser beam. It is not an excuse. There are pictures and you can see that in the footage.”

Capello’s right on one count. There are pictures. Here’s one from the Associated Press that shows the laser’s green dot on Afinkeev’s left shoulder:

source: AP

As for the other part of Capello’s story, here’s a gif of the goal, from Twitter user @FlyByKnite:

To the extent that Akinfeev is distracted by the laser, we can’t tell from the footage. In fact, if you watch Akinfeev’s feet when the ball is played, it appears that he’s reacting (though not deciding what to do) immediately. It doesn’t appear as if there’s a point where he’s blinded, distracted or dealing with an obstruction. He just takes the wrong route to the ball, comes up short, and leaves his goal open.

But it’s only a gif. It’s far from conclusive. It’s certainly not enough to get Capello to chance his story. Though he says it’s not an excuse, Capello wants the world to know: Russia went out because of a laser.

  1. thedeadlockvictim - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Tomorrow, Russia will point many lasers at Algeria. Followed by laser-guided missiles.

    • scoochpooch - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      One can only hope.

  2. footballer4ever - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    The losers will find a way a “valid” excuse to justify why the team did not advance. Realistically, Russia did not play well throughout, but blaming it on a laser is more meaningful than in the lacking football Russia displayed.

  3. drewvt6 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:47 AM

    They should really invade Algeria. Maybe Libya and Tunisia and Egypt, too.

  4. peddealer - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:25 AM

    Tomorrow, Russia will point many lasers at Algeria. Followed by laser-guided missiles.




  5. scoochpooch - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Makes sense, Algeria can only win by cheating.

  6. quizguy66 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    I can only imagine what will happen should Algeria qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. “Sorry about that fire alarm at 3am. Oh and the one at 4am. Oh and the one at 5am. Enjoy your stay, Algeria.”

  7. mazblast - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    After seeing his misplay that conceivably cost Russia a win against fellow not-so-good South Korea, it’s hard to believe that anything could cause a further lack of concentration on his part.

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