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No Tall Tale

Kareem and I II
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shavar Ross

There aren’t many sports that favor the little guy.

Basketball, volleyball, baseball, or football are obvious sports here in the states that do not favor being small. Really other then being a horse jockey, soccer is the only hope for the man under 5″10. And if you look around the world many of the best soccer players are sub 5″10 including Lionel Messi and David Villa. Even Pele was under the mark and Diego Maradona (5″5) needs a stepladder to qualify.

And research done at Erasmus University in Rotterdam recently reported that taller soccer players on average are called for more fouls then the little guys. The study was done over the last seven seasons and the researchers covered over 120,000 fouls in Champions League football, World Cup football (the last three cups), and the German leagues. The research claims that when two player’s made contact with one another that the player who was at least one-third of an inch taller then the other was called for the foul 52% of the time.

If the player was around four inches taller then the other player then they were called 59% of the time. Now of course this study is a bit flawed for the fact that most defenders committing the foul are not little guys and more big guys are likely to be a physical presence on the pitch, but it is an interesting debate none the less.

Of course the ref will always call what he perceives to be the right call and that doesn’t always make it actually right (ask Ireland about this), but it appears that the little man has a home in the sport of soccer.