A preprint article in the Journal of Soccer Science by a German Professor argues that the defeat of the English team by the French team on 10 December 2022 may have been caused by the players’ habit of taking the knee before matches.
Professor Schlechtelfmeter, of the prestigious Berliner Institut für Ballistik and Balletik (who co-wrote the article with Dr Piers Revieux and Dr Maw Phun Ding of the Teesside University Diversity Unit) has found that football players generally take the same knee when protesting against racism in sport. This causes an asymptomless physiological effect to develop in the players which is highly consequential for the game.
Professor Schlechtelfmeter notes: “We find that ‘taking the knee’ stretches and displaces the lateral collateral ligament in the frontward knee, and causes tension in the illotibial band of fascia running along the outside of the thigh. Meanwhile, it compresses and twists the anterior cruciate ligament in the backward and weight-bearing knee, causing the patella in the same knee to impede the movement of the quadriceps tendon. It also is thought to stress the cruciate ligament in both knees: again, differently, through tension in the frontward knee, and through compression in the backward knee.”
In layman’s terms, this combination of one stressed knee and one compressed knee locks a defect into the footballer’s gait. In effect, the footballer plays with one leg slightly dislocated, the other slightly constricted. Prof. Schlechtelfmeter has calculated – using evidence-based science and computer modelling – that when such a footballer kicks a ball, the ball veers two to three per cent to the instep if it is kicked using the forward leg and two to three per cent to the outstep if it is kicked using the backward leg. The word on the back pages of the Sun is that this is an understatement and that the consequences of the defect are not only not predictable but are likely to cause ‘extreme sport events’.
In the game between England and France the effect of the defect was decisive. Unlike the other teams, the English were alone in taking the knee throughout the World Cup. Prof. Schlechtelfmeter and his colleagues are convinced that this must have affected the quality of England’s passing and shooting in the later stages of the tournament. Ironically, it is possible that the misalignment worked in the favour of Harry Kane during his first penalty kick, when, due to his condition, even Kane did not know exactly which way the ball was going, thus completely fooling Lloris, the French goalkeeper.
However, the second penalty kick which Kane sent into the stands is taken by Professor Schlechtelfmeter to be a direct demonstration of his theory. An extreme sport event was increasingly likely the longer the game continued. By the time Kane stepped up to face Lloris for the second time, he could no more control the ball than if he had had a bottle of whisky for lunch.
We have contacted Gareth Southgate for comment. His representatives at the FA has communicated to us that the Health and Safety Department at Wembley is currently consulting with Biontech-Pfizer about a suitable therapy to remedy this condition.
News has just come in that Gary Lineker has responded to the story. He has commented on Twitter that the erratic nature of English ball-control in general has nothing to do with turbulence in the air caused by wind turbines near football pitches. He thinks, on the contrary, that it might be to do with rising levels of carbon dioxide in the joints of the footballers’ knees.
And finally there is the real possibility that members of Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain, or Just Stop Oil are going to start gluing themselves to the most expensive footballer players in the world. According to the new playbook, Vincent Van Gogh is out, and Virgil Van Dijk is in. Italian referees promise to tear protestors from the pitch before harm is done; but British referees have agreed to look on tolerantly while blue-haired teenage girls and cadaverous geriatrics glue themselves to Richarlison.
Kingsley Amis was unavailable for comment. But it is very likely his judgement of this entire matter would have been that it was all ballocks.
Dr. James Alexander is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Bilkent University in Turkey.