Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez accused of 'cheating' during World Cup final
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Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been accused of "cheating" and "manipulating circumstances" in the World Cup final against France.
Martinez's controversial antics during Sunday's clash at the Lusail Stadium have certainly divided opinion.
Some think it was clever tactics to unsettle France as they stepped up to take their spot kicks, while others have criticised his lack of sportsmanship. So what did he do exactly?
After the game went to penalties following a quite remarkable 3-3 draw in normal time, Martinez used mind games to try and drain the opposition of confidence.
As you can see below in the post below, Martinez forced referee Szymon Marciniak to politely intervene as he attempted to get in Kingsley Coman's head. In fact, he got Marciniak to check the ball placement in a bid to distract Coman.
After several nerve wracking seconds, the Aston Villa goalkeeper pulled of a great save to give Argentina a crucial early lead.
Then, as pointed out by Norwegian journalist Geir Jordet, the agile Martinez celebrated wildly after the stop – a decision that signals confidence, dominance and superiority.
With Coman, Martinez is pushing a little bit harder, forcing the referee to politely intervene.— Geir Jordet (@GeirJordet) December 19, 2022
Again, he gets the referee to check ball placement, and elicits a compliant response.
Now, Martinez knows he commands the penalty area & he can fully get to work. 5/ pic.twitter.com/HNMECNeiXk
It didn't stop there, either. Martinez threw the ball to one side as midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni walked towards the spot. In fact, Tchouameni went to fetch the ball before placing it on the spot.
Unfortunately for France, the 22-year-old midfielder lost his composure and missed from 12 yards.
Martinez's antics continued as he tried to get in the face of Kolo Muani. The Argentine was handed a yellow card for his efforts by referee Szymon Marciniak but that didn't stop him.
He was heard saying “I’ve watched you!” on several occasions.
Emi Martinez is an elite shithouser. He threw the ball away so Tchouameni had to go fetch it which got him all mad, frustrated and drained of composure. He missed his penalty. pic.twitter.com/tkL6qbRbkS— Le Samouraï (@Nerdotect) December 19, 2022
As mentioned earlier, Martinez's antics have divided opinion. Jamie Carragher said the save from Coman's penalty was the biggest turning point, but talkSPORT host Simon Jordan was far from impressed.
“Martinez’s actions, I thought it was cheating, the holding of the ball and throwing it the other way,” Jordan said.
“The goalkeeper’s actions, I don’t think it was gamesmanship, I don’t think it’s part of the game, I think it’s cheating.
"For a referee to allow the goalkeeper to manipulate the circumstances, to heighten the pressure, to increase it, I think was one of the shortcomings in that moment in time.”
Martinez's former Arsenal teammate Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, praised his controversial behaviour.
"To watch Emi do what he’s done has been amazing," he told The Sun. "To have seen him as a 17-year-old kid at Arsenal, who went out on loan to the likes of Oxford, Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday, to now be a World Cup winner.
"I’m so happy for him. He made one of the best and most important saves ever in a World Cup final – that stop with his boot from Randal Kolo Muani right at the end of extra-time to get them to penalties."
Wilshere added: "Seriously, that save has helped Messi to the prize we all so wanted for him and that he wanted more than anything.
"Then Emi saves Kingsley Coman’s shootout kick – and messes with Aurelien Tchouameni’s head for him to miss.
"He has an immense presence in goal. The target just gets smaller and smaller when he’s in it and I actually thought he would save one of Mbappe’s penalties before the shootout. He certainly came very close to it."
Thoughts on the Argentine goalkeeper's antics during the World cup final?
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Featured Image Credit: BBC Sport/Alamy
Topics: Emiliano Martinez, Argentina, France, Football World Cup