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You cheat! I can’t deny these words still hurt me although it all happened many years ago. It was an exciting kindergarten game us Strawberries against Sparrows. I played it like I was Roberto Baggio in the World Cup final. How much I admired that Italian striker, tried to play like him, even act like him. The game was even when I got the ball. I saw only one defender in front of me. Damn, it was Fat-Jack! How ruthlessly that big lump had already treated me the whole game.
I had to try, I wanted desperately to win that game. As I was on my way passing him I saw how this tired fat kid missed the ball with his enormous feet. Everything happened in a second but there I was flying in the air, all by my own choice - I was Baggio that day after all. Instead of trying my skills against the keeper I had chosen the easier way of trying to con the bored day care supervisor refereeing the game. This badly placed social worker gave us the winning penalty. Fat-Jack got the humps and an extra cleaning shift. Only us two knew that the game was won by cheating.
Al Pacino and Roberto Baggio. Both famous artist, class acts. The other one won an Oscar, the other one Scudetto. Pacino because of successful acting, Baggio in spite of it. Italian historical culture heritage has an impact over their whole society. Everything is art and drama, nothing is what it looks like. The whole society is balancing between cheating and lawfulness, trying to bend the rules to become heroes. There it is natural. And you get away with it by throwing the neck.
In England the same arm is thrown bit wider; wrists are historically known to make the justice. Deep English heritage of social structure is pure and simple: hard and physical but honest battle. Everything is exactly what it looks like. It is nobler to have some scars in the body than jump in the air. Not so many English actors get their hand printed at the Hollywood Boulevard, but many footballers get bruises to legs.
What makes some players to dive and others to honour stitches? It has something to do with cultural background, but it is not only that for Baggio. His job is to find the victory for his team, even by taking the chance of getting bad reputation. For him Fat-Jack is a tyranny, the polluter of honest technical game. Baggio doesn’t make elbow tackles. His crime is different. He thinks it is more justified to fall down easily than to make Fat-Jacks horror tackles. After all Baggio has lost many games because of injuries from criminal tackles. Unfair, he thinks.
How about Fat-Jack then? He is suffering the most from cheating. For him Baggio is a clown, the polluter of honest physical game. Once every season Fat-Jack is sent off after just cutting the air. And if a diver gets caught from playing act, the divers price is never that high. Unfair, he thinks.
In football there happens unfair things. We realise it now because with modern technology there are numerous camera angles to spot even tiny details out. Referee can never have an advantage over the replays so people will see more wrong calls to be made and unfair results to happen. And these things will always create some extreme passions to for and against like we have seen recently. Most of the time even after all the replays it is debatable weather something is fair play, playing act or just bit exaggerating after a tackle.
Cheaters are usually crucified by public and in football generally. In England even own players condemn divers and getting a bad reputation can affect how you are treated at the game, even at your whole career. However English game is not that English anymore. Many times, like in recent debates of cheating, the involved players have had a foreign passport. There is no question that the float of foreign players have increased the level of game but also increased the amount of other cultural spices to the English game, something that it is not so sure how to cope with.
As a player you have to decide what do you want to stand for. It is a macho game: no player wants to be called a cheat. However no player wants to loose either. Sometimes it is even encouraged to find the grey margin areas to win games. Ultimately it is nothing that rulebooks and all the talk can do, it is always player’s own choice what sort of line he takes in his quest for victory.
Making hard changes to refereeing line wouldn’t help too much. If the rulebook would be followed literary there wouldn’t be much flow in the games. If the rulebook would be followed too loosely there would be anarchy on the pitch. The best referee is a common sense and going with the way of the game. Most of the times it means that both strikers and defenders get away with some of things.
However it is sad if the emphasis of the game will be on resolving cheating incidents. It gives a wrong picture to children about their idols. It gives a wrong picture about the importance of good sportsmanship. It gives a wrong picture about this beautiful game. Because even though there might be some unfair-play, overall football is still a fair game.
Football is a big show. Art in a form of sport. Fight in a cost of art. Football is a game of skills and tackles. Margins are small, bending the rules are tempting, even possible. Both ridiculous tackles and ridiculous diving will be found in football. Both of them are cheating and wrong, sad and hard margin judgements of this fine sport. There should always be efforts of cutting them out. And I am sure there will be.
I have that one time been called a cheat but I learned my lesson that day against the Sparrows, no more diving. Later Fat-Jack learned his lesson after broking one kids leg, no more criminal tackles. The social worker is still badly placed.
This time I recommend:
I do not recommend:
1.Having uninterested social workers as referees
- Be yourself. No one can ever tell you you're doing it wrong -