The video you see above shows a couple Uruguay players haranguing the referees immediately after their 3-1 loss against Mexico in the Copa America on Sunday. You might imagine that the fervor of the players’ protestations was piqued by the pregame national anthem gaffe, plus the shellacking Mexico just put on them, plus any of the numerous arguably questionable decisions the refs made during the game, and you’d probably be right. But it’s actually oh so much deeper than even that.
Recall Mexico’s go-ahead goal late on in the match, in which the Mexicans took a short corner, piddled around with the ball inside the box, before old man Rafa Márquez hammered it into the goal from a tight angle:
During the brief moments when you can see the Uruguayan players following the goal in that video, you can tell they—most notably keeper Fernando Muslera—are already upset with the linesman. Judging from their behavior, the players seem to think that the play Mexico scored on should’ve been blown dead seconds before, when the ball might have popped up and hit Márquez on the arm.
A missed handball that potentially cost your team a point would be reason enough for a player to yell at the refs after the game, but as Muslera laid out in his postgame comments, he was particularly peeved by how the offending linesman responded to his complaints about the handball. Yes, Muslera didn’t take too well when, by his recollection, the linesman taunted the keeper by grabbing his nuts, Marshawn Lynch-style:
[Muslera] also explained the reasons why they lashed out at the second assistant referee, the Paraguayan Milciades Saldívar. According to the goalkeeper himself, after he appealed for the alleged handball by Márquez, the linesman responded by clutching his genitals, which provoked the reaction of the Uruguayan players, including Edinson Cavani and José María Giménez.
“I know that as we are going over to complain to the assistant, he was obviously not in the game, and he responds with one hand on his genitals, saying ‘This is a handball.’ He stood there, with nothing happening on our part, but he will be judged by the 450 cameras have to have been at the stadium” [...]
Basically, Muslera shouted at the ref, “Hey, that was a handball!” and the ref responded by cupping his nuts and replying “I’ve got your handball right here.” The shamelessness. The audacity. The impropriety. It’s amazing. If it’s true.
Muslera was wise to point out all the cameras in the stadium as the linesman’s ultimate judge. According to one report, the Uruguayan soccer association has indeed found footage of the gesture in question and has sent it to the Refereeing Committee. If the images back Muslera’s account, Saldívar is probably in some big trouble. Hope it was worth it. (It probably was.)