Many scholars have discussed the ethical dilemmas raised by Maradona’s 1986 “Hand-of-God” goal, Lionel Messi’s handball for Barcelona against Espanyol on June 9, 2007, Thierry Henry’s handball for France against the Republic of Ireland on November 18, 2009, Roy Carroll’s “save” for Manchester United against Tottenham Spurs on January 4, 2005, Miroslav Klose’s handball goal for Napoli on September 27, 2012, and Arne Larsen Okland’s “goal” for Bayer 04 Leverkusen against Bayern München in 1981. What is intriguing about these cases is the contrasting behaviors displayed by the players involved in these incidents both during and after the events. One wonders what world soccer would be like if children, youth, and amateur players around the world were taught to approximate the sportsmanlike behaviors displayed by Klose and Okland while avoiding emulating the behaviors displayed by the likes of Maradona, Messi, Carroll, and Henry during the events mentioned above. What would have happened to world soccer if Maradona, Messi, Carroll, and Henry had acknowledged their unethical behaviors right after they had committed them and demanding that the referees restore the integrity of the game that they had violated perhaps instinctively? In this paper, we suggest that, if such celebrated soccer players could regularly act as stewards or exemplars of the game, perhaps most of the issues that have led to the inclusion of in-game referee assistance technological devices in sports could be resolved by the players themselves.
Associate Professor, Philosophy Department, John Carroll University, Ohio, United States
Professional Soccer Players, Children and Youth Sport Education, Stewardship