With the World Cup in South Africa now behind them, FIFA (the governing body of International Football) is again exploring options concerning the rise of the Brazilian penalty kick known as the "little stop" or paradinha. This move is called unsportsmanlike by some and downright illegal by others, yet it is being used more and more on the pitch. Should the paradinha be outlawed or is it a legitimate strategy tool? Why are more and more kickers choosing to use the paradinha?

Like many of the game changing soccer innovations, the move can be traced to the Brazilians. Pelé used a more subtle version of the move during the 1970 World Cup, but many claim that today's version of the paradinha is outright cheating. What was once a pause in stride to the ball has become a stop-start motion and sometimes a kicking motion over the ball without touching it. The reason for the success stems from a recent change in goalie motion. Previously, a goalkeeper could not move until the ball was struck. In 1997, a rule went into effect that allowed a goalie to move sideways before the ball was touched. This increasing jumpiness for goalies is now being exploited with the stutter kick technique.

Paradinha penalty kickMany liken the move to a balk in baseball. A pitcher is not allowed to start a throw to home and then stop or fake a throw. The timing of the hitter must be preserved. In soccer, this same logic is applied to allowing the goalkeeper's natural timing to not be upset by the misconduct of the striker. With the World Cup holding center court as the most watched sporting event in the world, the governing body does not want to present soccer in a way that is not positive. Unfortunately, no decision to outright ban the move can go into effect until next year. The only approach that FIFA can take is to allow referees to call a penalty for unsporting behavior. With the president of FIFA calling the paradinha penalty kick move "outright cheating", it seems highly likely that as soon as FIFA can declare the move illegal it will.

Soccer matches are highly contested games of endurance, precision and skill. It seems a shame that the outcome of such a hard fought match can end with one controversial and possibly illegal penalty kick like the paradinha. It will be interesting to see how many kickers choose to employ this feinting move during the June World Cup Games in South Africa. Fans and FIFA will be watching and waiting to see whether the paradinha will be a deciding factory in any match.