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European Football’s Snot-Rocket Launchers

January 2nd, 2014 · 3 Comments · Football, soccer, UAE

Euros do funny things, yes. They eat snails and frogs and sheep intestines and pork cheeks, and they ride scooters and think Formula One is entertaining and never get married or go to church, and those who speak English drink way, way, way too much.

But I am not going there, today.

I am, instead, fascinated/repelled with what is a peculiarly European soccer phenomenon:

Launching snot from their noses. Yes, snot-rocket launchers.

If you haven’t been watching the Premier League or, well, any other European league, you may have missed this, so I will describe it to you in all its gross-ness.

Snot-rocket launching.

It involves seemingly every professional soccer player in Europe. Even the imports.

Whenever they have break in play — a ball goes over the line, or someone fakes an injury — and cameras zero in for closeups of someone who a moment ago was involved in something quasi-interesting, the odds are about 50-50 that guy is gonna launch some snot.

Here is what they do.

They place an index finger against one side of their nose, and then exhale violently through the other nostril — and snot is launched. Often, a gob of it. Flying through the air. Perhaps landing a few feet away.

And if the camera hangs around long enough (and, really, directors should cut away from this the moment a player puts his finger on his nose), we often get to see the player place a finger on the other side of his nose, and then snot-blow the other nostril. The double snot-rocket launch.

(And if that is not descriptive enough, check this video of a Crystal Palace player. He is demonstrating the left-nostril snot-rocket launch.)

It’s like the worst, wettest sneeze ever — except for with sneezes, it’s an accident.

So, why do they do this?

I suppose it served a purpose, originally.

Maybe trying to reduce a runny nose by getting ahead of the slow leakage? So they aren’t wiping their noses on their shirts?

Actually, I can’t think of any really good reasons for this.

When playing soccer, everyone is a mouth-breather. You can’t take in enough oxygen through your nose. So it’s not about clearing breathing passages. That would be the only vaguely acceptable reason for snot-rocket launching.

OK, maybe this — soccer players don’t like the feel of a stuffy nose. And since society over here allows them to do pretty much anything they want and be as disgusting as they like, they indulge themselves by launching snot-rockets.

Granted, North American sports televise some vile habits. Baseball players are infamous spitters. Of course, a lot of them are chewing tobacco (a vile habit in its own right), and have to eject the poisonous “juice” every minute or so. That would account for the ballplayers who seem to spit in quantities measured in ounces, not teaspoons.

Every baseball postseason is a steady flow of expectoration. Yes.

But nobody does the finger-on-nose snot-rocket thing.

Hockey players spit on the ice, which is pretty disgusting, but basketball players can’t really spit on the court; it’s way too much like spitting in your living room.

And football players do a bunch of spitting, and I have a problem when they do it on artificial turf, because the mucous gob might sit there for years. But, again, no snot-rocket launching in the NFL. Not that I have noticed.

Here in the UAE, where spitting is illegal, soccer professionals somehow manage to get through entire matches without somebody loosing a snot-rocket on the game. Or spitting, even.

How do they manage? Apparently, it can be done. I have seen it — or not seen it, actually — over the course of 90 minutes.

So why this Euro snot-rocket thing? Is it hip?

It leaves me thinking that the whole of the Old Trafford pitch is just one slimy mess, and to tackle someone is to mean sliding through the snot wads left behind by Juan or Stevie or Wayne. (Especially Wayne. Or Rooney. Not calling out anyone in particular named Wayne or Rooney.)

Match-fixing, racist fans, incompetent referees, goal-line technology … these are seen to be important issues in European soccer.

When is someone going to get around to the pressing issue of snot-rocket launches?

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Jan 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

    We have it here in the States, at least in the rural areas – we called it The Farmer’s Kleenex. Very handy when you need to blow your nose and the nearest appropriate paper product is a long walk away.

    And yes, it is pretty gross.

  • 2 victor p // Jan 4, 2019 at 5:35 am

    this bad habit is indeed discosting to the point, I turned my eyes away some times. But what I’m thinking is that next moment when they shook hands or touch another’s face or hight fives and so on. Pretty awful “social costume “

  • 3 Robert // Jan 12, 2019 at 8:50 am

    I am an Englishman who has watched football for 50 yrs and this annoys me no-end. It’s only in the last 15-20 yrs becaubaxk in the day no one ever did this. I also played football 20 yrs and never once saw any player do this. They should ban it because not only is it disgusting to see in 4k hhd it is obviously not necessary.

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