The art of shithousery gone too far

Why Emi Martínez & Nahuel Guzmán have forced lawmakers to put an end to their antics 🤡

Martínez celebrating his Golden Glove in Qatar

Shithousery is a fairly nebulous term in the soccer world, but it generally refers to a player attempting to gain an advantage by unfair means – everything from diving, to time-wasting, to head-butting an opponent. The practice is as ingrained in the sport as the game itself, and has come to light in recent years thanks to the exploits of Emi Martínez.

The Argentine and Aston Villa keeper drew harsh criticism after his penalty shootout antics during both the 2021 Copa América and 2022 World Cup, where he antagonized opponents with verbal taunts, distracting dance moves, and general antics that make a 13-year-old boy named “Easton” look well-behaved in comparison.

Martínez celebrated Argentina’s triumph in both tournaments with his signature pelvic thrust, and even got into it with Lille fans after saving the decisive penalty during Aston Villa’s Europa League win on Thursday.

If Martínez if the Mozart of shithousery, then allow me to introduce you to the Beethoven: Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán.

Soccer’s biggest troll

You might recognize the name from some of his outlandish attempts at distracting penalty-takers over the years, which include everything from performing a magic trick…

… to mimicking a mime…

… to walking across the goal line like a trapeze artist…

… to literally ripping up the grass from the penalty spot.

The Argentine, who has become something of a living legend in Mexico, has come as close as anyone to perfecting the art of shithousery, which he considers an art.

“I come from an artistic family,” said Guzmán in an interview with The Athletic last year. “You can interpret [my acts] as you wish, but they come from a place of art. I’ve always considered myself an artist.”

Rules to a degree always have that gray area… one should step into those gray areas with creativity

Guzmán on what inspires his antics

An artistic approach to shithousery has worked well for the 38-year-old, who has played at the top level in Argentina and Mexico for 20 years despite self-admittedly lacking the talent and athletic ability of world-class keepers. Guzmán has made a career out of getting in opponents’ heads, but for the first time last week, he took things too far.

Taking things past the point of good fun

On Thursday, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) announced they were suspending Guzmán for 11 games, fining him an undisclosed amount, and assigning him an undisclosed amount of community service after he was seen shining a laser pointer in an opponent’s eyes in a game earlier this month. 😮 

While recovering from knee surgery, Guzmán watched Tigres’ clash with cross-town rivals Monterrey from a visitors’ box at Estadio BBVA last Saturday. There, he was seen shining a laster pointer in the direction of Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada during the first half.

Security cameras at the stadium captured the incident from close up, where a figure resembling Guzmán is seen watching the match with his arms folded, shining the laser onto the field of play.

Guzmán didn’t stop there. After the match, he criticized the officials in an Instagram post where he suggested that Monterrey’s stoppage time equalizer shouldn’t have counted as the ball wasn’t placed properly on the corner marker, and the corner itself was taken after the eight minutes of signaled stoppage time had already run their course.

Guzmán issued an apology the next day on social media, but the FMF still deemed harsh punishment was necessary due to the “unprecedented nature of the situation.” Tigres have also issued a separate fine.

No more funny business?

Laser pointers are commonly used to distract opponents during games in Latin America, but this is the first such incident featuring a player committing the transgression. While it’s unclear if the game’s governing body will do anything to prevent this from happening again, they’re already cracking down on shithousery from keepers during PKs.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the governing body that determines the laws of the game, recently amended Law 14, “The Penalty Kick.” The change clarified that keepers “must not behave in a manner that fails to show respect for the game and the opponent, i.e. by unfairly distracting the kicker.”

If I do something and you get distracted, who is responsible for having been distracted? It comes down to the referee’s interpretation.

Guzmán on the new rule

Tough news for Guzmán and Martínez, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. “I think as long as things are part of the spectacle and they’re not violent or aggressive, there’s room to keep trying things,” Guzmán said when asked about the new rule.

While pulling a rabbit out of a hat is likely off the table, don’t be shocked the next time Guzmán appears on your Instagram feed, doing something to distract a penalty-taker that is usually reserved for the likes of David Blaine. 🪄