Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cheating in Football, part and parcel or unacceptable.

One of the things that has been thrown under the spotlight is the nature of the behaviour of some of the players on the football field, especially when it come to trying to gain an advantage from pretending a foul (penalty for our Yankee friends) has been committed or time wasting by feigning injury. 

Below are 3 examples, one which resulted in a penalty kick being awarded and converted, one which resulted in a red card being shown to one of the players and the last which failed to con the referee, but the manner of the attempt has sent shock waves round the footballing world.

In this first example the Brazilian striker Fred (remember him from the Brazilian names post) throws himself to the ground to try and win a penalty kick and he succeeds leading to a Brazilian goal. Brazil now had the lead which had looked unlikely until then and went on to win the game. A lot of jokes went around about the Japanese referee having a slanted view of the incident.

A different type of "unfair play here"

The issue here is not the headbutt by Pepe, he is a known hothead who should have known better. The incident started with a dive by Muller with the exaggerated hands to the face as if he had been shot. He was attempting to con the referee into awarding Germany a free kick. Portugal were reduced to 10 men which made their chance of coming back into the game nigh on impossible, a great result for the Germans.

The last example is another dive which fails to fool the referee

Marcello is not even looking at the ball as he throws himself to the ground, his eyes are on the ref. The question here should be, why wasn't Marcello punished for play acting ?

After I had already posted that I was going to blog on this topic, an American reader notified me that The New York Times had just published a piece on the same theme, but trying to make the point that North Americans are not very good at gaining these advantages through perceived unfair means. Members of the National Squad who have had long careers outside of The USA were trying to encourage the younger players to take a lead from the rest of world and do anything to win.

The television pundits, watching the Germany V Portugal game consisted of a panel of ex-players, one English, one French and one Italian, all experienced internationals in their day. They held the view that Muller's antics were part and parcel of the game and that Pepe should have known to control his anger. The anchor, a non-footballer was incensed by Muller's behaviour.

In the Marcelo (marcelo vieria da silva Junior) incident, the BBC pundit Alan Shearer, an ex captain of England was livid with Marcello and called him an outright cheat.

The problem for Americans is that playing fair is ingrained in their psyche, you just don't see blatant cheating in American sports.  I think the rolling around feigning injury (which also annoys the English) bothers Americans even more. Get up and play like a man. 

American kids don't want to be thought of as cheats as they will be shunned by their peers. In the real world, anything you can use to gain an advantage is acceptable. To quote the Times article.

 "The best attackers in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Su├írez, regularly fall to the ground, particularly if they feel that they are going to lose possession. And why not? If it works, they get a free kick. If it doesn’t, they were going to give up the ball anyway."

I feel that this is one of things that is holding back the growth and success of football in the United States. There is a certain naivety to Americans of how things work in the world outside of the good old US of A (this is not just limited to football). They don't understand that it is a jungle out there and that all is fair in love and war.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't just a soccer thing.

    There is quite a bit of diving to get penalty calls in ice hockey as well. But because the action is much faster, it's not as noticeable unless it's caught well on video.

    I'd include a link to a classic example on YouTube, but since it involves my favorite team, I'm going to skip it.