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Russian coach blames laser beam for team's World Cup exit

Fabio Capello says his goalkeeper was blinded by a green beam, just before conceding a vital goal.

See the bright green circle on his shoulder? Sydney Morning Herald screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The World Cup is hard to understand for many Americans.

Today, the US team lost, but progressed. The Russians tied, but were eliminated.

What sort of justice is this? It sounds like a peculiarly European form.

The Russians, however, believe that technology was largely responsible for their exit. The team's coach, Italian Fabio Capello, insisted that his goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had been blinded by a green laser aimed from the crowd.

As the Guardian reports, this happened just before Algeria scored an equalizing goal, hence sending the Russians back to a chilly reception.

TV footage certainly confirms that a laser was shone at Akinfeev. Capello explained in a press conference: "He was blinded by the laser beam. There are pictures. You can see that in the footage. This not an excuse, it is a fact. There was a laser. I have never come up with excuses to get by in my entire life."

He has, to be accurate, coached several excuses for soccer teams and has only managed one win in seven World Cup games.

How much of a distraction the laser might have been is, moreover, open to some debate.

Akinfeev is not the sort of goalkeeper you'd want to catch your auntie if you threw her from the second floor and he's waiting down below.

In this case, he missed the corner entirely, allowing Algeria's Slimani to score. Could he really blame the laser for that?

And then, as they say in British cop shows, he has previous. In Russia's first game against South Korea, an utterly harmless shot was heading straight for him. He contrived to allow it to not only slip through his hands, but to go behind him into the goal.

While the use of a laser is clearly ignorant and dangerous, I wonder whether Russia's abject performance in its first two games might have contributed more to the nation's exit.