Sadly, I no longer think football can be called the beautiful game.
Barcelona are a wonderful team to watch – they may well be the best team in the history of football – but their performance yesterday was completely blighted by what I hate most about football – this.
That clip shows that Pepe didn’t even touch Dani Alves, but the latter writhed around on the floor for several minutes, was carried off on a stretcher(!), and then returned to the field a few seconds later, remarkably recovered.
How can you be carried off on a stretcher when you weren’t even touched?
- I mean, it’s one thing to hold the part of your body that you want to pretend was hit
- It’s one thing to roll around a bit for a while to make your point.
- But to make four people carry you off on a stretcher? Surely that’s taking it too far?
How did Dani Alves sleep last night? Knowing that his shameful cheating probably earned Pepe’s red card. Does he have no pride? Is Pep Guardiola as disgusted by his player’s behaviour as everyone else in the world is? As far as I am aware, no other sport has as much blatant and rife diving as football, and it is, quite rightly, ridiculed by fans of other sports.
Depressingly, I recently saw an extension of this pitiful trend to the soccer fields of San Francisco. Playing in a seven-a-side co-ed game of a quality that makes this guy look like Lionel Messi, one of our opponents got brushed in the stomach, and collapsed holding his face. He flawlessly executed seventeen commando rolls, and then gestured for the referee to give my friend Blake a yellow, or even better, red card. It was hilarious…farcical…tragic.
FIFA – if you are listening – firstly, why on earth did you give the 2022 World Cup to Qatar? And secondly, please can you up your efforts to eliminate diving and play-acting from your sport?
Here are a few practical suggestions:
1. Make it a red card for diving.
2. Insist that if players pretend to be hurt, they are forced to spend 10 minutes out of the game.
3. Enable retrospective punishments for diving (e.g. Dani Alves could now be banned from the next two Champions League matches).
4. Ban diving training sessions (let’s cut the problem off at source).
5. Compile a list of dives like this helpful guy and hand out an award at the end of the season (similar to the Ballon d’Or) for the most persistent and vilest offender.
Yesterday, Jose Mourinho commented: “Sometimes I am a little bit disgusted to live in this world”.
I would have to agree.