Well, it’s finally got to the stage where I have to say something. I am steadily losing my respect for the “Beautiful Game”. I am finding it difficult to enjoy watching any soccer game lately…including these World Cup games. Actually, when I think about it, it’s been bothering me for years and I suppose it has finally reached a tipping point.
I’ve had just about enough of the diving, play acting and pretending by most of the world’s top players. Let’s be clear about this, it is dishonest, it is cheating. And it is spoiling the game.
I can’t think of one game I have seen on TV in the English Premier League, Champions League, World Cup and Euro Championships, in the last 5 years where there hasn’t been a plethora of diving and play acting. Players will fake a dive in the box in the hope of being awarded a penalty kick…cheating. Players will fake being hit in the face (Kaka incident) to get other players red carded…cheating. Players will appeal to the ref for a corner or throw-in when they know for a fact, they last touched the ball before it went out…cheating. Players will roll over 3-4 times on the ground pretending to be in agony when they were barely touched and not hurt…cheating.
This cheating is pervasive in soccer and it seems more so the higher the level of play. It is ruining the beautiful game and I am losing respect for it.
Obviously the players are okay with this. They don’t mind being cheated out of games and they don’t feel bad about cheating other teams out of games. Where is the respect between players? Where is the code of ethics? What about the fans? Seems like they are okay with the fraud and cheating going off with the players in the teams that they support. The usual response is, “It’s all part of the game”.
Well, no it’s not part of the game. Cheating, fraud, play acting and the rest of it, in an attempt to win, is NOT part of any game that I know of.
In golf, players will penalize themselves if they break a rule, even if others are not looking. In rugby, there is no arguing with the refs and no pretending to be hurt to get another player ejected. Heck, in tennis, before they embraced new technology, some players would tell the ref the ball was in, when it was called as out against their opponent…and a let was played. So, why all the cheating in soccer?
When I was a kid growing up in England in the 70’s, there wasn’t this play acting/cheating going on in games. It was actually frowned upon. When we played games, if we went down pretending to be hurt or embellishing a foul, even our own teammates would shout at us to stop play acting. If you went down, rolled over 3-4 times and pretended to be hurt, you would be looked at like an idiot…it was embarrassing to try and embellish a foul or being hurt…you would have been ridiculed In other words, you would be looked at as a CHEAT. So no one did this. I don’t even remember instances of this on TV during the professional games in those days.
But now, things have changed. I don’t know if the BIG money has made the difference or whether the influx of foriegn players in most leagues has made it a regular occurance.
The sad thing is it could be stamped out instantly and I blame FIFA for not doing so. Retroactive video evidence would practically put an end to all the cheating, fraud, diving, play acting, etc. overnight. But FIFA won’t even consider this. And the players just take advantage of the system.
Let’s take the World Cup games for instance. What if there was a panel of observers who viewed the tape of the game right after the game? And anyone who in their opinion, based on evidence in the tape, pretended to be fouled when they weren’t, dived to try and get a penalty awarded, held their knee in agony when they were simply pushed over or even appealed for a corner when they clearly touched the ball last for a goal kick, then they should be disciplined.
How they should be disciplined is a whole other topic, but they could be given points, like a red/yellow card system, could be banned from future games if the instance was severe, fined, etc.
So none of this stops the flow of the game…no complaint there. But it will have the effect of each player knowing their actions will be scrutinized in minute detail and from different angles.
And don’t say it can’t be done. It is done right now with every NFL game. Each NFL game is scrutinized after the fact. Players are even fined if they don’t get called on a foul during the game. The officials might miss the call (let’s face it, they can’t see everything), but if the player is caught on tape after the fact, doing a major foul on an opponent, especially if that foul is dangerous to the health of the opponent, then he is fined. There is just no reason that this can’t be done in all the major soccer tournaments and most of the major pro leagues throughout the world.
You could make the argument that this won’t be an option for some minor leagues and youth leagues. That might be so, but at least it puts a stop to it for the major games and all games on TV. And the other side effect is that our younger players will not see the fraud and cheating anymore from their role models and it will create a whole new generation of players who don’t have a tendency to cheat to try and win games.
Here’s a test. For the next World Cup game, count how many times, there is an instance of cheating, over exaguration, diving, pretending, etc. I would think there will be at least 20.
It’s a disgrace and it’s spoiling the “Beautiful Game”.