Argentine goalie and World Cup hero, Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez, has been vocal in his disregard for a new football rule supporters have dubbed the “anti-Dibu law”. It restricts what goalkeepers can do during penalty shootouts.
“They did it too late,” the Argentine goalkeeper said about the rule, which many felt targeted him.
The Argentine men’s national team has seen an upturn in luck in recent years, and Emiliano Martínez has played a big role in it. The Mar del Plata-born star has been a permanent fixture of the team, with solid play across most games.
However, it was his incredible performances in the penalty shootouts at the Copa América 2021 semifinals and the quarter finals and final of the 2022 Qatar World Cup that put him in the spotlight. There, his knack for distracting his opponents and saving their shots earned him the adoration of the Argentine public as the Albiceleste won its third World Cup.
But others weren’t impressed. The International Football Association Board, which is in charge of modifying the rules of football, announced a rule that restricts what goalkeepers can do during a penalty shootout.
“The goalkeeper shall not behave in a way that distracts the kicker in an illegal way,” the association’s new rule reads. “For example: he will not delay the execution of the penalty or touch the posts, the crossbar or the goal net.”
“I loved it, because they always look for an excuse,” said Martínez about the rule change during an interview with Urbana Play radio on Friday. “I told my family and my friends that it doesn’t matter, we are already champions. They did it too late.”
The Argentine goalkeeper was nonetheless critical of the rule change, arguing that it shows a bias towards the players taking the penalties, who can do all sorts of moves, while goalkeepers are now far more restricted.
“I saved the shots I needed to save,” he added.
His statistics during shootouts are incredible: out of the 36 shots he has faced, he has saved 11, almost a third.
Martínez’s antics didn’t stop at his games with Argentina. The goalkeeper, who plays for Aston Villa in the Premier League, once famously rattled Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes by coming out of his box and demanding that a penalty be taken by the much more famous and successful striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whether or not it was down to Martinez’ comments, Fernandes failed to control his shot and sent it high.
From the 2023-24 season onwards behavior like that won’t be tolerated in football.