Online dictionary references define “sh*thousing” as “a campaign of purposeful actions, which may affect others either mentally or physically, in order to further their own gain”.
While there’s no direct reference to football, the term’s usage is synonymous with players or teams who indulge in what pundits have dubbed “the dark arts”, an umbrella term for gamesmanship tactics.
While the “sh*thouse” term itself is relatively new, the acts it covers are not. The infamous “Battle of Santiago” in the 1962 World Cup between Chile and Italy that led to the creation of yellow and red cards; the so-called “Disgrace of Gijon” in which West Germany and Austria were accused of acting in concert to ensure both proceeded to the knockout stages of the 1982 World Cup and the antics of Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos on most matchdays are all fine examples of so-called sh*thousery.
The reason it’s a hot topic today is due to Colombia’s actions during their World Cup knockout match with England in Moscow on Tuesday.
Coach Jose Pekerman revealed what route his players would be taking prior to the match, with an article in The Times quoting him as saying: “[England] have passed the group stage comfortably but now a different type of match is heading their way — completely full-on, to-the-death matches, extreme situations.”
It sounded like standard, pre-match fare: a defiant warning issued to the opposition in a bid to unsettle them.
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But Pekerman wasn’t exaggerating when he promised “completely full-on... extreme situations.”
From Wilmar Barrios tussling with Jordan Henderson to the frequent niggly fouls and confronting the referee, the knockout match was a masterclass in sh*thousing, with both sides getting involved.
Juan Cuadrado’s barge on Harry Maguire midway through the first half appeared to kickstart the sh*thousing, with the Leicester City defender raising his hands to the winger in retaliation, while Barrios followed suit soon after as he appeared to headbutt Henderson as Colombia defended a free kick.
Barrios copped a yellow card for his antics after referee Mark Geiger was advised by VAR to book the defender. As the players trotted off the pitch for the half time interval, Colombia’s fitness coach Julio Urtasun appeared to shoulder-barge England forward Raheem Sterling, earning him a finger-wagging from an official and prompting a knowing smile between Urtasun and another member of Colombia’s backroom staff.
Harry Kane’s penalty on 57 minutes opened the scoring, but the spot kick was awarded over three minutes earlier after Carlos Sanchez had fouled Kane in the box.
Colombia’s players surrounded Geiger as they protested the decision, with Johan Mojica, Radamel Falcao and Jefferson Lerma all seen to be scuffing the penalty spot in a bid to disrupt Kane.
Henderson was booked for appearing to aim a headbutt at Yerry Mina while Radamel Falcao and Sanchez were seen confronting the referee.
England centre back John Stones was lucky to escape punishment after a clash with Falcao, but five minutes later the Colombian striker was booked for dissent after accusing Maguire of simulation. Substitute Carlos Bacca then followed Falcao into the referee’s notebook for a poorly-timed challenge on Stones, with Jesse Lingard then shown a yellow for a foul on Sanchez.
Late in extra time, Cuadrado was perhaps lucky to escape with a caution for a wild challenge on Danny Rose on the touchline.
Colombia’s antics haven’t been the only case of sh*thousing at this World Cup.
See also: Portuguese defender Pepe throwing himself to the turf after a light tap on the back from Mehdi Benatia of Morocco; Fabian Schar and Stephan Lichtsteiner of Switzerland wrestling Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to the ground; Brazil forward Neymar’s tendency to go down a bit too easily and, off the pitch, a Peru fan attempting to steal Tim Cahill’s jersey as the veteran Australian tried to hand his shirt to a young Socceroos fan.
Sh*thousery is here to stay, and we certainly haven’t seen the last of it at this World Cup.