We Don’t Name The Guilty Men.

WE ARE not supposed to refer to players as cheats in the written press. Ever. But I am going to anyway….


Partly we don’t call players like El-Hadj Diouf cheats because it is the culture of the press box to assume a mantel of world-weary hard-bitten resignation about even the most unappealing aspects of the game. There is a cynicism that, for instance, routinely describes the chopping down from behind of a player through on goal not as ‘dirty’ or ‘outrageous’ but as a “professional” foul, thus elevating it above the ordinary hacking of everyday parks football and into a superior skill that is desirable to attain for any budding footballers out there.
Partly we are not supposed to call players like Ronaldo cheats no matter how frequent or how spectacularly staged or how embarrassingly transparent their dives, irrespective of contact or even the presence of an opponant anywhere in the same postcode; nor call players Alan Shearer or Ben Thatcher dirty no matter how freely they wave their armour plated elbows because you never know when they will be wearing a Boro shirt. Football is a fluid game and you can’t afford to paint yourself into a moral corner on individuals when there always the possibility that next season they may have to interview them neutrally if not sympathetically.
Partly we don’t call players like Drogba, who appeared to have opted for slip-ons as he stumbled and sprawled around the Riverside in the opening week, cheats because to point to the deliberate, systematic attempts to fraudulently win free-kicks and penalties raises the possibility of a quick counter that, well, your lot do it too. And that is true. John Hendrie was one of the finest practioners of the dark arts, hard as nails George Boateng once appeared to be laid out by a waft of scrawny Nobby Solano’s wooly glove while a while a crucial moment on the road to UEFA Cup glory last season came as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink waited for the Roma keeper to come before collapsing to win a matchwinning penalty in the 1-0 home win.
Partly too it must be said that we don’t call the likes of scuba-diving soccer ace Robert Pires cheats because thin skinned rich footballers have agents who do their ego-surfing for them, and also have expensive lawyers and between the two can turn even a casual derogatory aside into a costly legal action. You can’t imply a professional sportsman of impeccable character systematically cheats. Alright, it is unlikely but perfectly possible and to be frank there is plenty written on sites like this that would raise m’learned friends’ eyebrows and even if much of it is perfectly justifiable, given the cost of High Court barristers they would not be worth defending so the paper would pay out quickly (believe me, I know stuff like this!)
And don’t expect even the national press, who have better lawyers and enough money to take the hit of any defeat, to call players cheats either because they rely on the big clubs and the star names to fill the acres of pages. And News International is a stable of papers that also have a cross-ownership with Sky Sports so it would be commercial suicide to attack the players in any way that could impact on the product.
It is a profitable symbiotic relationship that no sports editor or owners would jeopardise lightly. They will only take a calculated risk on monstering a player when there is a public outrage that they can cash in on. For instance, the tabloids spent most of the Summer hounding Ronaldo for his persistent diving and cynicism against England in the World Cup, hoping to create a story about a rift between him and Wayne Rooney and unsuccessfully trying to build a bandwagon to drive him out of the country. But Manchester United are a big club and have stood by ‘the Portuguese winker’ so all is forgiven and despite no discernable change in his behaviour he now escapes any censure. In fact, despite a blatant dive against Boro he was made Man of the Match in most of the papers.
So don’t expect the written press to label any players cheats. Even if they are.

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13 thoughts on “We Don’t Name The Guilty Men.

  1. I do not think Ronaldo dived for the penalty, he stepped over MS and then stumbled, the ref had a good view of the incident and mistakenly give a penalty.
    He did however dive for the foul against Boteng, the ref again had a good view and choose to give the foul.
    Until retrospective bans against these diving cheats are introduced, the practice will continue. Ronaldho has a manager and team mates who seem to condone his actions, it is a win at all costs mentality that sours football.

  2. Every club has their divers/cheats, at boro we had hasslebaink, beck,ravanelli,paul wilkinson(handball goal against bristol rovers),boksic, ian baird, rockemback, boateng faking injury,xavier failing a drug test.. i could go on.
    If you are critical of ronaldo and demanding action be taken then you have to be consistent and have a go at players in your own clubs who do it to. In theory a tackle in the box should be a foul if it would be a foul on another part of the pitch. but the reality is that any contact in the box is a foul these days. every club takes advantage of it.
    whats the answer? a team of experts who review each game and pick out cheating incidents then hand out bans. If that were the case no teams would be able to field a full team after a few weeks.
    On side note, i never understand why in cricket when a fielding team make loud appeals for a LBW they dont get into trouble for conning the umpires. I hear the commentators saying it was a loud appeal.

  3. Never Happy
    I agree totally, the only time I side with the professionals is when defenders make stupid challenges. You cant expect players to stay on their feet if they are clobbered or clearly fouled.
    An recent example was when Joey Barton clatterd into the back of Boat then bad mouthed him for going down.
    Another occasion was when Drogba pulled up short claiming he had been caught in the face, the commentators berated him and then he spent two or three minutes off the pitch trying to stop the bleeding.
    The JFH penalty referred to by AV was another case where the keeper committed football suicide by rushing at him and was never going to get the ball, cant blame JFH for just taking the knock and the penalty. There are many times we see such instances and we comment that the player gave the ref the chance to make the decision.
    Generally, most of the diving can be sorted by firm retrospective action. Put them on report as in Rugby league or cite them as in union. Do away with this ‘if ref saw it and dealt with it we cant do anything attitude’.
    But the authorities wont do anything, the press will cosy up to the game knowing which side of the bread is buttered.

  4. Dave
    Today, Brett Lee has been punished for excessive appealing in the test match, so it can be done.
    I dont think anyone is advocating every incident should be reviewed but there are clear cut offences that take place in the same way as rogue elbows, punches etc. The BBC and Sky are keen to highlight those and demand justice. If the FA can rule on those they can look at some of the cheating if they have a will to do so.
    As I posted earlier there are those occasions where the sensible fan knows that their own player has done something daft and made a stupid challenge, the decision against them is there own fault by giving the ref a chance to make the decision.
    I can think of several cases where the player hasnt got within a foot of the opposing player and gone down including hard men like Viera and Gerrard never mind serial offenders like Pires, Drogba, Ronaldo and our own share of culprits. They dont happen a dozen times a game.
    It can be policed if there is a will.

  5. The big clubs are too powerful and will not let the FA conduct any kind of clampdown that means their players are not available for big matches.
    The clubs are already at odds with the FA over the international fixture list, use of their players image and payment of their wages when on national team duty. For the FA to try to ban the big team superstars for diving would provoke a massive backlash.
    But you can see some poor sap from a lower prem side being hammered as a bit of window dressing. Just hope it is not one of our lads.

  6. Ian you say not every incident would be reviewed..so where do you draw the line? And wont managers and fans be moaning because the FA is being inconsistent in not reviewing all incidents?

  7. Not a matter for the FA this one, rather UEFA or better still FIFA. Got to be stamped out. I vote for a retrospective red card – if it can be done for an elbow, it can be done for a dive. The result stays the same, no matter what, but it might stop the cheats (and their managers – can you believe Ferguson’s comments??) from trying it on.
    That’s 4 points lost to Boro in 2 successive games because of very dodgy penalties.

  8. Dave
    It works in rugby union and league, in union with its scrums, rucks and mauls there is more scope for skuldeggery than football and they still get caught. The other fact is that it has reduced foul play because there is a chance you will get found out and there has been a change in emphasis in the game because of it.
    The fact is the FA are picking up on elbows, punches etc. The obvious cheating is just as clear cut. Punish those and you will see a reduction in cheating because the chance there a chance you will be caught, you will be publicly hung out to dry, the refs, authorities, fans, media will be looking out for you and your club.
    The other thing is to do nothing.

  9. “That’s 4 points lost to Boro in 2 successive games because of very dodgy penalties.”
    what about christies offside goal? that should have been picked up.
    What about hasslebainks hand ball against newcastle. had that goal not been given we would not have got into europe and not made the uefa cup final. what about the ugo handball that should have resulted in a penalty in the carling cup final.what about the goal that zurich had disallowed even though it wasnt offside.e.tc
    the decisions would even themselves out. but its only natural that fans just pick out incidents that go against their teams.

  10. Dave
    We are not talking about decisions that even themselves out, whether it is ball to hand or hand to ball, offside or not, penalties or free kicks where refs make mistakes.
    We are talking about blatantly, highly visible acts of cheating, they are already highlighted on TV in all the leagues and the FA already punish serious foul play missed by the ref.
    How often have we heard Lawro saw a player will be expecting a call from the FA? There are referees assessors present at matches, the referees analyse decisions after matches. We all know the offences because they are shown to us time and time again. Penalise the banged to rights offences, whoever it is, and that will reduce the cheating.
    You obviously think I am posting because I am a Boro fan and disappointed over the result, wear rose tinted glasses and believe in the tooth fairy, santa claus and the easter bunny. I was on the boards stating Ronaldo didnt dive for the penalty and it was a poor decision by the ref.
    Those who have read me regularly know I have been scathing about cheats for some time and have long advocated punishment. If Rugby Union can do it so can football if it has a wish. There is an excellant article in todays Daily Telegraph by Henry Winter on the subject echoing the views of many of us.
    If we all just shrug our shoulders then the game is in trouble. We were all appalled by actions in the world cup, Boro fans are no different to others.

  11. But it works in rugby cos rugby players are more honest and play like gentlemen should. If they did it in football then no teams would be able to field a team because every players is looking to bend the rules on the pitch.
    They tried it witht he 10 yard rule but that got binned and what happened to the rule about the keeper holding onto the ball too long? The FA and UEFA know it would cause wide spread problems so dont want it to come in.
    Blatter is too busy faffing around talking about wanting to move football to the sumemr months rather than looking at real issues. Is that because sumemr football would get bigger crowds and more money in?

  12. Cheating needs to be clamped down on by the FA. I’m sure it would never be eliminated but a couple of bans for those found cheating using ‘video evidence’ would make the persistent and cynical cheaters think twice.
    Cheating is cheating irrespective of whether or not the player is from Boro, Man Utd, Chelsea etc.
    It spoils the game and sets a very bad example to youngsters who regard prem. players as heroes who can do no wrong.
    However I will not be holding my breath waiting for FA action, because it is clearly an organisation incapable of managing a wine tasting session in a brewery.
    Despite the dodgy penalty I enjoyed watching the Man Utd game on TV, I thought we were 100% better than against Liverpool, hopefully Southgates plans/tactics/formations are coming together.
    I liked the 352 system, my only reservation is that it didn’t seem to suit Stewie, but I’m sure that problem can be resolved.

  13. What is the matter with you Mr Vickers?
    Did you complain and moan about cheats when JFH handled the ball to equalise against Newcastle last season.
    Thought not!
    You moaned about songs chanted by opposing fans now you are bleating on about cheats. You are turning into a serial whinger!
    **AV writes: No I didn’t ‘moan’ about the JFH Hand of God … but I did acknowledge it. And if you read the article I clearly point out play-acting by Boateng and JFH. I am under no illusions whatsoever that the problem is widespread.

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