Why has ‘Forrest Gump’ got Celtic fans up in arms?

The extreme man marking of Swiss international Stephan Lichtsteiner in the Champions League game with Celtic on Tuesday has started a real debate about consistency in European refereeing standards.

Celtic’s dream run in the Champions League appears to have come to a crushing end after defeat at the hands of Juventus on Tuesday night. Defeat was one thing but to lose by such a resounding scoreline like 3-0 despite dominating for large parts of the game was nothing short of a travesty.

Now Neil Lennon really would have to perform miracles to overcome the Italian champions by defeating them by four goals or more in Turin; a task verging on the impossible.

Football as with life can be unpredictable sometimes as the eponymous character from Forrest Gump said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.’

Indeed it is Oscar season but there is far more reason behind the mention of Robert Zemeckis’s 1995 Academy Award winning picture.

Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner was given the nickname ‘Forrest Gump’ by radio commentator Guido de Angelis after he scored a marauding goal from right wing-back for Lazio against city rivals Roma in 2009.

It is a nickname that has stuck and you can see why; his vacant stare and rampacious running ability make it a clear no-brainer. Not to mention a slight facial similarity to Tom Hanks himself.

But rather than the scenes when his leg braces snap, or when he swims ashore to see Lieutenant Dan his performance in the game at Celtic Park was more reminiscent of the scene where he beats the living hell out of Geoffrey Blake at a Black Panther Party to the melodic guitar strings of Jimi Hendrix.

He continually grabbed and tugged at Gary Hooper in the penalty area and Celtic were left mystified when the referee refused to give a penalty kick. Without being too melodramatic by the letter of the law Celtic could genuinely have had about 10 penalties in the game. As for the guy standing behind the goal with his silly stick; what exactly is his job again? Look like a wally behind a football goal?

Some say it is understandable because ‘that’s how they mark in Italy but FIFA rules cover everyone and it was clear that these rules were being broken on numerous occasions on Tuesday night; it was enough to make Rod Stewart weep.

The Swiss international justified his actions by claiming he was simply protecting his goalkeeper but there is protection and then there is just being a man-marking zealot.

Surely somebody needs to have a word with the referees because plain and simple it is cheating and the worse thing about it; the referee just let them get away with it!

What did you think of the over friendly marking at Celtic Park?

image: © mitsurinho

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