He scooped up a loose ball in the box and went to clear it down field, except he punted in the ball directly into the back of a Juventud player. The ball bounced right to the attacker’s feet for a golden chance to extend Juventud’s lead, with the goal unattended.
But then, what is this? What is this furry blur darting across the pitch? Who is this shadowy hero patrolling the goal mouth? Could it be, A DOGGY?
Why, yes! Yes, it is a doggy! It is a very good boy (or girl, it’s unclear in the footage), who has come to save the day and start a Defensores comeback! He (we’ll just go with he) arrived not only for moral and emotional support, but also to provide an extra body on the pitch. FIFA’s Laws of the Game restrict each team to 11 players, but this doggy isn’t a player. He’s a hero.
Watch now as he saves this shot on goal, knocking the ball out of the air like a missile defense system. Observe his speed and majesty. Witness his self-sacrifice. Consider his floppy ears.
Look. At. That. He wears this shot right in the side and keeps on ticking. No goal, sir. No goal, at all.
And read the chyron on the screen that says, “El mejor amigo del hombre,” or in English, “Man’s best friend.”
This is the part of the very important news article where we typically tell you that stray dogs are a problem in this country and local leaders are taking drastic steps — like spaying female street dogs or rounding up and euthanizing older strays — to curtail their spread.
But dogs aren’t actually a huge issue in Argentina, where 78 percent of households own a pet, according to a Public Radio International report. That’s higher than in any other Latin American country.
Alta Gracia, a Buenos Aires suburb half an hour away from Belgrano, introduced a tax credit for residents who adopt stray dogs, according to local newspaper La Nacion. The city will also provide a free bag of food each month and no-cost veterinary care.
This good-humored soccer story comes as Argentina is trying to prove it is fit to hold internationally significant matches. The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final, the championship of South America’s premier division, was moved from Buenos Aires to Madrid after fans of one side, River Plate, attacked the bus of opponent Boca Juniors before the Nov. 24 match. The event was delayed until Dec. 9 and moved to Europe, sparking riots in Buenos Aires, where both teams are based.
CONMEBOL, the governing body of soccer in South America, agreed with FIFA officials to move the fixture overseas for safety reasons, and River originally refused to play the match overseas. Manager Marcelo Gallardo said the relocation is “robbing the fans,” according to the BBC.
“Some day we are going to rethink what happened and we will remember it as a total disgrace,” he said.
But someday, we will also all think back on the actions of a heroic canine and remember them as the only time we discussed third-division soccer in Argentina.