Officials in all sports are supposed to ensure fairness and, to a lesser degree, sportsmanship in the games they oversee. But one Saudi Arabian soccer referee apparently didn’t get the memo.
Early in the second half of Thursday’s match between Al Nahdha and Al Ittihad, Taisir Al Antaif, the goalkeeper for Al Nahdha, paused before a goal kick when he noticed the shoelace on his left boot had come undone. Because he was wearing his large white goalie gloves, Al Antaif was unable to rectify the situation himself so he began gesturing to teammates to come help him out.
Instead Brazilian striker Jobson of visiting Al Ittihad rushed over. Uncertain of Jobson’s intentions, the goalie picked up the ball -- as Jobson bent over and tied the keeper’s shoe.
Al Antaif then reached out and shook Jobson’s hand before taking the goal kick, a pause in play that earned a penalty from referee Abdulaziz Al Funaitel. The official ruled the keeper was guilty of a delay-in-game foul and gave Al Ittihad a free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box.
That’s when Jobson’s teammate and Brazilian countryman Leandro Bonfirm took the unusual show of sportsmanship one step further. With the score tied, 2-2, Bonfim chose not to try for a go-ahead score but instead kicked the ball gently across the end line well wide of the net, giving the ball back to Al Antaif for the long-delayed goal kick.
The keeper looked toward Bonfim, raised his hands above his head and applauded, as did some teammates and many in the stands. Fittingly the match ended in a 4-4 draw.