On his Twitter page (@RealKaka), Brazilian (and Real Madrid) superstar Kaká criticized his countryman Neymar for using a common technique to score a goal via penalty kick–the “paradinha”: “Essa paradinha so no Brasil!!” he exclaimed, followed by “A paradinha e uma ventagem para o cobrador, e qual a vantagem do goleiro??” As far as my (extremely limited) Portuguese and Google Translate lead me to believe, these two statements are roughly translated to “You would only see the ‘paradinha’ in Brazil!!” and “The ‘paradinha’ is an advantage for the striker. Where’s the advantage for the keeper?”

It would be easy to write off Kaká’s criticisms of the “paradinha” as bad sportsmanship, as Neymar used it against his old team, São Paolo FC. And maybe it was my own bad sportsmanship (I’m a huge fan of Kaká’s, especially since his move to Madrid) that made me think that he was on to something: I’ve seen hundreds of penalty kicks over the years, and there has always been something illegal about the way the Brazilians used the “paradinha.”

So I looked it up: weirdly, but perhaps understandably, the results were mixed. At no point in the FIFA Referee handbook does it say that the kick-taker cannot stop, though many other sources suggest that a player may slow down but not stop. The FIFA handbook is very vague, so one has to wonder about whether this kind of thing would ever be enforced at all…

So, I think Kaká is right, and this is coming from a guy who used to love watching Luis Figo, one of the great ‘paradinha’ specialists take PK’s (a quick addendum to Figo: Figo never dramatically stopped and faked the way Neymar did; he used the slow motion jerking around to try to make the keeper flinch, which I think is much more legitimate).

Where does that leave us? Probably nowhere: the Brazilians will keep doing the “paradinha,” the “panenka” will still be the coolest way to score a penalty, and David Beckham will still be the worst PK-taker of all time. We probably can’t enforce an anti-“paradinha” rule, though a kid can always dream…

Here’re some clips of Figo taking PK’s–tell me what you think in relation to Neymar, because I think Figo’s aren’t (as) illegal:

About Gabe Lezra

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. Ezekiel 25-17.
  • galacticos

    I remember watching the game when Henry hit that “Panenka” (thanks for the technical term). Cheeky move.

    But, what I think it boils down to is the fact that it is a PENALTY kick, much like a free throw in basketball, where the defending team is penalized for a foul in the box. I think that’s only fair. I used to be a striker, and without that penalty rule, scoring would be impossible. The game is already tough, especially in the box. We can’t let the defenders get too crazy in there.

    That being said, I think FIFA needs to get much stricter about diving. Maybe employ video reviews to catch people like C. Ronaldo (I’m a madrid fan, but not a ronaldo fan) who abuse the penalty kick rule. I personally wouldn’t mind it if people up in the video box could review dives mid-game and punish the cheating players (even if it comes 5-10 minutes after the dive). it should be an automatic red card, but maybe with a post-game appeal process

  • galacticos again

    this is a little off topic, but I’d just like to say that I really miss Roberto Carlos. One of my favorite players ever, though Raul is still tops

  • Petinga

    Well if “galacticos” thinks that it’s only fair to stop when you are about to hit the ball, see the keeper dive and then choose which side to shoot the ball cooly then why don’t people abolish penaltys and directly give a goal to the attacking team instead? It would save us a lot of time.

    Paradinhas are illegal and that’s it. If you can’t score with a 2.4 x 7.3 m large goal (!!) from a 11 m distance and with only one guy in front of you without CHEATING, then you better not be taking penaltys.

    The FIFA regulations state clearly that the taker is not allowed to completely stop during his run nor to pull back the foot used to take the shot once the movement has begun. So try doing one of those in European association football and you’ll see the referee pointing back for you to repeat it.

  • Petinga

    Two final comments:
    1- Figo took full advantage of the regulations. He NEVER stops his run (instead only slightly slowing down) and does not use any of that BS of foot-flickering that is so common in Brazil. But in Brazil it amuses the masses, so what can you do…
    2- Proposing red cards for attackers who dive must be the most dumb thing I ever read. In a number of cases, it is very difficult (not to say outright IMPOSSIBLE) to tell if the player deliberately threw himself to the ground or if the contact felt was enough to cause a fall. You would need physics measurements of the player’s speed upon contact, his weight and height to decide upon that. But Federations should be much more strict in punishing players who are indeed simulating (in clear-cut cases) penalties – something which will never happen because it’s so difficult to be completely imparcial if you’re discussing a ban to the most influential player of any country’s most popular football clubs.

  • Victor

    This is NOT ILLEGAL. Yes, the referee might tell the attacker to take it again, but that’s if he understands that the ‘paradinha’ is an unsportsmanlike behavior, which, in my opinion, is not. There’s nothing in the rules saying you “shouldn’t stop after you’ve started” or that stuff people keep saying. Really, look it up. It’s as legal as blasting it through the keeper. Actually, blasting it through the keeper also gives the attacker an advantage. Go and ban that.