I was sorta-watching the match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria over the weekend. Sorta-watching because I was at work and the game was on my phone. Wee tiny soccer.
Nigeria had a 1-goal lead and time was running out for the Bosnians. Suddenly, a rash of horrific injuries swept through the ranks of the Nigerians, injuries so awful that all the poor men could do was to lie on the turf in agony. Play stops in these situations, but the clock keeps ticking!. The ref adds a bit of time at the end of the game to make up for the stoppages, but when a team really commits to lying on the grass, they will chew up far more game time than the ref adds back on.
One of these terrible injuries occurred right by the sideline. The Nigerian was so blinded by pain he couldn’t even manage to roll three feet to get off the field of play. FIFA officials and doctors hovered around the seemingly-mortally-wounded athlete, wringing their hands. FIFA people are under strict orders not to risk exacerbating the injuries of world-class athletes, and the team doctors had no interest at all in seeing this man to a speedy recovery. Not while he was on the field of play, anyway. Once a player reaches the sidelines the restorative atmosphere suddenly improves to the point where the stricken lad is often able to rejoin the fray in a matter of seconds.
If only there was a way to get the wounded man to the sidelines and the instant relief to be found there! To be so close to the sidelines but still unable to get that last couple of feet must be pure torment.
Happily, the Bosnian goalkeeper was level-headed enough to provide succor to his foe. The goalie ran over, grabbed the Nigerian under the armpits, and pulled him bodily off the pitch, to the alarm and consternation of FIFA officials and team doctors. I’m sure the Nigerian player was grateful, however, because in a few seconds he was completely healed. I imagine that after the game he probably bought the Bosnian goalie a beer in gratitude.