Just as the Soccer Tribe love to express their triumph, they are equally good at expressing frustration and despair when things don’t go well. Desmond Morris identified moments which all Tribal Heroes dread:
- When the referee inflicts a severe punishment, like a penalty or a red card
- When the opponent score a goal
- When the final whistle blows to signal victory to the enemy
- When a strikes narrowly misses scoring a goal
So, rather like the triumph displays, there are a number of defined reactions:
The Outrage Display
Usually expressed when there is some doubt about the referee’s decision. Sometimes the players may confront and argue with the referee. To no avail. The referee cannot change his mind, if only because he cannot be seen to be indecisive. Too much outrage often results in a yellow card for dissent. Once its clear that none of this works, the outrage display changes to gestures of disbelief, anger gives way to exaggerated shrugs, wringing of hands, temple tapping as if the gods have deserted the team or the world has gone mad.
The Frustrated Face
The striker who watches as his shot at goal is miraculously saved by the Keeper, or makes a near-miss, or hits the goal-post, adopts a special posture of frustration. With arms outstretched or his fists clenched, he throws back his head as if appealing to the heavens. His face makes a silent scream, mouth wide open and eyes closed. To the crowd, his own disappointment is acute as theirs.
This seems to apply to the defeated goalkeeper as well.
The Forehead Clasp
Following the above, the striker, still looking to the heavens, will clasp his forehead with both hands. It is both a cut-off and a self-comfort. The hands shield his vision from the horror before him and makes the discomfort slightly easier to bear. It is also a form of self-embrace when there is no-one immediately available to offer comfort.
The Hair Clasp
Similar to the forehead clasp but without the cut-off element. The hands come up to the back of the head to press tightly against the hair, while the eyes continue to study the scene in front. This acts as a self-comforting gesture.
The hair clasp seems to be the most popular display posture.
The Neck Clamp
A variant of the hair clasp, the palms of the hands hold the sides of the neck, giving the feeling that someone else has rushed up and made a comfort contact.
The Head Clamp
A ‘blinkers’ posture where the forearms wrap around the face while the hands are clasped around the back of the head.
The Face Cover
This is the ultimate in cut-off and self-comfort. The player stands with both palms pressed tightly to his face, fingers pointing upwards. Not only does it serve as a cut-off and self-comfort, but also hides his facial expression. Although the image above is taken from the back view, the players posture on being given a yellow card is clearly seen.
This example below uses the shirt.
The Head Down
The simple lowering of the had, with a downward-directed gaze is part of the general slumping of the body that accompanies defeat. It is the opposite of the triumphant head-high cavorting. Head down makes the player look smaller, while in triumph they make themselves bigger.
The Arms Akimbo
One of the most common postures of defeat, arms akimbo is also an anti-social gesture. The hands are placed on the hips with elbows out sideways, like pointed barriers to fend off anyone from coming too close. As goal-scorers embrace one another, goal losers use the arms akimbo as a kind of anti-embrace. Almost every goal produces a sudden rash of arms akimbo in the defeated side, often at least half the team.
Not seen too often, but here is an example just after the opposition score a goal.
The Body Collapse
After the final victory has been awarded to the other side, the energy of the losers evaporates and many of them sink to the turf, slumped, crouched or prone. This is often only seen at the end of a vitally important match when players have given their all.
The Brave Face
After matches where the losing team are expected to parade past their fans and offer a wave of thanks for their support, the players attempt to put a Brave Face on their defeat. This is a contradictory gesture, psychologically trying to convert a loss into a near-triumph. Their disappointed eyes and weak smiles contradict the thumbs up and waving.
The Weeping Face
The final display is open weeping, although this may not erupt until the privacy of the tunnel or the dressing room, as it is considered unmanly. Pele recounts that once, having scored twice, the goalkeeper was weeping as if his heart would break and had to be replaced.
Looking through my archives, I haven’t captured many of these instances, mainly because they are not always where my focus of attention has been. I shall look for these emotions with a keener eye in future, not always concentrating solely on the celebrations.