Leon Osman’s unwanted accolade as cheating finds a new level

For all Salut! Sunderland
knows, Leon Osman is a regular at church, helps old ladies across the road, spends hours daily feeding the homeless and plays Scrabble without even thinking of snatching a sneaky glance at everyone else’s letters.

He also stands accused of being a prize cheat.

The name of one of the questions posed in our regular “Who are You?” questionnaire to opposing supporters – about attitudes to diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents sent off or booked and all the other dishonest acts that go on in football today – changes every so often.

It was the Eduardo Question after his sensational dive to win a penalty for Arsenal in a Champions League game against Celtic. It very nearly became the Ngog Question when he not so much dived as went into orbit for the same reward in a Liverpool game against Birmingham City. It did become the Walcott Question when Theo admitted – honour following the crime, since he also apologised – that he had tried the same trick for Arsenal. And this season’s antics at St James’ Park, when the culprit was still a Newcastle player, saw the arrival of the Barton Question.

That means the question has covered diving and feigning injury, the latter also embracing the act of trying to get opponents sent off (Barton’s intention, as he admitted later, and one that was fulfilled).

Salut! Sunderland
has consistently said it is no less contemptuous of cheating when perpetrated by players wearing our own colours. So some thought was recently given to the possible introduction of the Larsson Question.

Seb’s dive at Wolves was deplorable, even if the keeper then saved his feeble penalty and we could blame our subsequent collapse and defeat on the entire episode. But we did not duck the issue because football had somehow found its own revenge; bad as it was, the dive was not in the Eduardo or Ngog category and fell miles short of meriting elevation to the McAllister league.

But Osman’s actions at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day were also in a class of their own. It is rare for a player to produce an air kick before kicking the ground, falling over and winning a penalty in the same brief incident. It is rarer still for such actions to inspire a nonsensical decision on the part of a world-renowned referee such as Howard Webb. But even that sequence would have been insufficient, on its own, to clinch it for Leon.

From the ‘Who are You?” feature (with an Everton supporter, “Avinalaff”) before Monday’s game:
Q: The Barton Question: was the Eduardo Question, could have been the Larsson Question after one recent incident. Those names cover feigning injury and diving but which form of cheating most angers you and what would you do to stamp it out?

A: I don’t like players who get other players sent off by feigning injury. Lafferty of Rangers feigning that head butt was a disgrace. Diving is just as bad. I hate cheats, and would boo anybody who cheated in a dark blue shirt.

In an age where cheating brings success and wealth, no one in their right mind would actually expect a professional footballer to own up in such circumstances. Even so, had Osman hauled himself shame-facedly to his feet, said nothing and simply allowed fate to take its course without playing any further part in the process, we would have felt unable to make this award.

He makes it his own because having fallen over in a manner that made him look a bit of a fool, he immediately raised his arm to claim the foul he surely knew had not been committed. It is not as if there was the minimum contact that occasionally occurs in the box, raising the ordinary cheat’s hopes of a penalty, or even that he had steered his foot deliberately into the path of an opponent (Cattermole’s reputation making him the perfect stooge in such a ruse).

(Modified paragraph taking account of the pleadings made below on Osman’s behalf): It is difficult not to conclude that Osman knew the cameras would show there to have been no contact whatsoever, and that what he then did amounted to a blatant act of dishonesty in the hope it would bring an instant return. If that was his mission, he succeeded because Everton will therefore have won the point they deserved not by a fairly struck goal but by fraudulent means. If he has been misunderstood, as many Everton and one or two Sunderland supporters believe, and genuinely thought he had been clipped from behind, then what a pity this was not stated immediately after the match.

Mr Webb has yet to make the public apology that would win respect from quite a few of us. But Salut! Sunderland does not believe for a second he committed anything other than an honest, if appalling, mistake. If Mr Osman feels any of the above to be unfair, and has a wholly innocent explanation (fearing he might otherwise be booked for diving doesn’t count), these pages are open to him.

In the likely absence of any such explanation, the next opposing supporter to accept the “Who are You?” challenge will be asked the Osman Question.

Monsieur Salut

43 thoughts on “Leon Osman’s unwanted accolade as cheating finds a new level”

  1. CSB, if he kicked the ground (he did) and thought it was a players interception, would he not ask for a penalty? It’s fair to say that it’s not quite as obvious as the ‘trip ones self’ claim of Fabregas.

    It does genuinely look like he kicked the ground in error. Could it not be the initial reaction was genuine?

    We’re not exactly known for being cheats at the end of the day, even if a player ‘will’ take advantage of a situation should it present itself.
    Each time a ball goes out of play, do not 22 men (poetic license applied for) stick their hands up?

    • Dave

      I am afraid that I agree with KenG, people are trying to put a positive spin on a series of events that on the face of it look like Osman took advantage of a situation that he must have known himself to be false.

      It may have just been a spur of the moment reaction to claim and Osman may be as honest as the next footballer, but in this instance he reacted inappropriately to gain an advantage

  2. I have had the highest number of thumbs down ever in this thread because I accused Osman of cheating which may have been harsh if you want to give the player the benefit of the doubt. But even if his actions were the result of some of the excuses above (mainly from Everton fans, as no doubt the thumbs down) he over reacted/ simulated/ whatever, because he is in the box.

    You can blame Webb etc but Osman made the most of it, no doubt, fact!

    Its as simple as that, he tried to gain maximum advantage from the situation. Professionalism or cynical cheating all depends on what colour you wear and I suspect from what era you are from.

  3. If you want debate, ask a question. To state ‘cheating finds a new level’ is a bit sour.

    Another marker on a long line of evidence regarding supporting technology I would agree with, but Osman has a pretty tidy record of fair play, as do Everton.

    The match was a decent game, and let’s face it, both sides needed the points, but just because the officials get it wrong, doesn’t attest to cheating on behalf of the player.

    Get technology in once and for all.

  4. In what way is it a witch hunt to raise questions that a player’s own behaviour, unexplained by him or his manager, fully justifies? This has been a long and useful debate, conducted mostly on the basis of common sense with lots of people taking Osman’s side and lots not; it has been the same away from this site – a clear divide between those who think he’s innocent and those who don’t. Dave misses every pertinent point of that discussion, instead calling for everyone to say nothing about a classic manifestation of one of the most important issues in the modern game.

  5. You’re in the position you are in the league because you are playing inconsistently. End of.

    Every year you struggle to stay up, and this year will be no different. Isn’t that a better talking point than slating the Everton lad?

    No amount of blaming Osman, the ref, or anybody else will change that.

    You scored a lucky deflected goal, and were unlucky with the penalty decision, but Everton were the better side on the day. Show some class and take it on the chin instead of calling the lad a cheat.

    Nobody likes a witch hunt, especially when it’s a good honest lad involved.

    S*** happens. Get over it.

  6. “There was an ancient Chinese belief that winning by cheating was worse than losing honorably(Art of War by Sun Tzu)So this has been a hotly debated subject for more than 2000 years!` vince said.

    That may be true Vince, but an inherent part of Sun Tzy`s strategy would in the era of modern warfare, be considered to be `cheating.`Sun Tzu`s tactics were deployed in Vietnam, e.g in the Tet Offensive, and subsequently by various groups considered to be terrorists in the western world.

    When Osman went down however, I was looking for the sniper on the `grassy knoll.`

    • Jeremy,
      You are quite correct on that,it was me mixing up my Chinese philosophies.The non cheating era preceded Sun Tzu’s, then he came along and said it was OK to cheat in war,and that honour didn’t matter.

      Either way we are still debating whether cheating or professionaliosm is OK all these years later,……was Confuscious tripped or did he dive in the penalty area?…some things never change.

      My view, is it that Osman a cheat a ” little”,as all players do if they can,hopefully they will get the message we supporters don’t like it.

  7. Let’s face ir ALL players will take an advantage if it is offered,and managers will generally condone this in the name of “professionalism”.
    Referees also make mistakes, but it balances out over a season(Larrson’s non existant penalty).

    There was an ancient Chinese belief that winning by cheating was worse than losing honorably(Art of War by Sun Tzu)So this has been a hotly debated subject for more than 2000 years!


    “The Art of War has also been applied in the world of sports. NFL coach Bill Belichick is known to have read the book and used its lessons to gain insights in preparing for games.Australian cricket as well as Brazilian association football coaches Luis Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira are known to have embraced the text. Scolari made the Brazilian World Cup squad of 2002 study the ancient work during their successful campaign”

    Maybe we need more football coaches reading Sun Tzu.

  8. Evertonian here and i dislike Osman as a player, no longer good enough for us, but he is a very nice person, certainly not a cheater.

    Here is what happened:

    He miskicked and fell over, it was not a cheating, obviously he didn’t realize what happened and thought that he was fouled, that’s why he appealed

    BUT, i would love to see him make a public comment and apologize about it

    Anyway, i hope this is the last time we win a penalty over such an incident, cheating is ruining the whole thing and it has to stop

  9. I’m glad you are able to acknowledge* what Osman did was not a dive, as an Evertonian season ticket holder for over a decade I have watched Osman’s entire career and I can say, in my honest opinion, he is not a cheat/diver and not somebody who would try to knowingly gain an advantage by fraudulent means, he is more the type of player who would tell a ref not to book an opposition player for a genuine but accidental foul (an incident I have witnessed before, same goes for Phil Neville in a Royal blue shirt). I believe what has happened is when Osman has swung his leg at the ball and kicked the floor instead and tumbled over he has assumed that it was an opposition leg that his foot hit as he would have been looking up towards the goal mouth and he did have a player behind him making a challenge. So I beleive he thought it was that players leg, and not the floor, that he connected with. If this is the case then there is no ‘cheating’ going on but more of a mis-understanding. If he knew it was the floor and still claimed then as with the other blues on here I would be ashamed. But like I said Ossie isn’t that type of lad, he is the type of lad who spent his first professional wage on a new car for his nan (I know this for fact as I know a relative of his, he is a true family man)

    * Note from Salut! – please see my comment two above …

  10. A bellend writes: no such comparison between the incidents was made. I was simply referring to the mantra that a player cannot have done or meant this or that because he’s “not that type of player”. The difference between what I wrote, in a comment above, and your interpretation would be roughly the size of the Bay of Biscay. Among those who care one way or the other, opinion is sharply divided on whether he is likely to have known he wasn’t fouled. I have amended the relevant section of my original posting to reflect that difference of opinion and the many pleadings made on Osman’s behalf.

  11. SalutSunderland, what a bellend you are. Comparing what happened with Osman to Shawcross breaking an oppenents leg. Definately both the same type of incident those! Its is quite obvious you have never played football with your misguided cooments on this. If a player is behind you like that and you kick the floor like that then it feels as if you have been fouled, hence the appeal from Osman.

    For the recored I am a Sunderland fan.

  12. Let’s face it, if I take a left foot shot sometimes when playing, I misjudge it completely and I’m glad that you, unlike others, are not claiming that he dived. His appeal is shocking, however. I was just as embarrassed when Larsson dived for us other week, and let’s be honest, we saw the dive but still wanted him to score the penalty. Until refs have some sort of help, rightly or wrongly, these things happen and we need to move on.
    What it is I am happy about in all of this, is Martin O’Neill’s response. He should be praised for not dwelling on it and almost trying to brush it aside altogether, it shows class and professionalism of which puts a certain couple of other managers to shame at present, these things happen. It is in direct contrast to the self pity Bruce would have embarrassed us all with. Although Moyes also respond correctly, he didn’t exactly have a choice such was the obviousness of it not being a penalty.

  13. Bill has it spot-on. Reading all the Evertonian protestations that he is not a player known for cheating, I would prefer to believe he thought he had been fouled. He is bound to say
    that was the case. I just find it hard to imagine anyone above the age of, say, four tripping himself over and somehow thinking it had nothing to do with a) a complete miskick and 2) kicking the ground and everything to do with non-existent contact from elsewhere. How can you miskick the ball and not know? How can you wrap your own legs around each other and not know?
    And to repeat, I have not accused him of diving. My suspicions concern what he did after falling.

  14. After reflecting on the various comments I feel it all boils down to a couple of points.

    Did Osman genuinely believe he had been fouled?
    If so, he is innocent of all charges.
    If not, guilty as charged!
    Unfortunately we will never know. Presumably it depends on which camp you are from as to your point of view.

    Also, assuming Webb and his assistant conferred, is this not another case for having an official looking at a replay and whispering in Howard’s ear that he had got the decision totally wrong?
    This, however, is a totally different debate…………….

  15. If proof were ever needed that football reflects the falling standards in our society then one need look no further than the comments and ratings on this article.

    On the one hand there are the views (mainly from Evertonians) who were ashamed of Osman’s actions, which is nothing less than I would expect from honorable supporters of a proud club.

    Then, on the other, are the ratings which, presumably, were handed out by morons who are happy to denigrate anything decent, just as long as they don’t have to justify their beliefs by using words instead of grunts!

  16. At all levels of football these days players constantly appeal for decisions that they know to be wrong. Throw ins, offsides, corners – anything. Players tend to act like Pavlov’s dogs whenever the ball goes out of play. Likewise every foul seems to be followed by a “I got the ball first” gesture. What I dislike is a player trying to persuade an official to give a decision they know to be wrong. What I deplore is the brandishing of imaginary yellow cards, diving, professional fouls off the ball, feigning injury etc. etc.

    I could see from my seat that no foul had been committed but I won’t condemn Osman for putting his hands up. I’m not sure he really knew what happened. But I am sure that Webb didn’t know what happened and guessed. I hate to say it but I can’t help but feel that had we Man Ure not only would it not have been a penalty, but Osman would have been booked.

    Likewise Sammon was sent off for a swinging arm. Last season’s Rooney’s was much worse and he never even got spoken too. Refs are human. They’ll make mistakes but if their mistakes were consistent they might get a litttle more sympathy. I won’t hold my breath though!


  17. To be charitable to Osman, let’s assume that he thought he had been clipped from behind. I don’t think that he would have been expecting to kick himself. Pity he can’t/won’t/isn’t alowed to say what happened.
    For the benefit of Jay Connolly, Jack Colback came through the academy as did the sub keeper Trevor Carson. For Everton, Hibbert and Osman so that makes it another draw.

  18. If Osman went down genuinely believing he’d been tripped, then he surely can’t be blamed for making the appeal. I’m not saying that’s what happened. It’s something we’re unlikely ever to be told.

  19. Note from M Salut: this comment (actually two from the same contributor, but combined) makes points anyone is entitled to make, but is posted in this form as a precaution against possible follow-up abuse …

    Who is Leon Osman?

    An accomplished Premier League player who has stayed with his boyhood club for the length of his career.

    He fell over and mis-kicked a shot, is it his fault a pen was awarded?… no.

    Aim your abuse at Webb not Osman. He didn’t even claim for the pen.

    How many Sunderland youth are still playing for you?


    Don’t have a go at a 1 club player, you sound bitter.

    “Cheating finds a new level?” ridiculous, you sound like a crying LFC fan from Norway.

    Crap article.

    | In reply to Steve.

    You’re obviously not an Evertonian.

    He didn’t dive you lemon.

    He miskicked his shot, it was terrible.

    Webb was the clown for giving the pen.

    Ridiculous decision.

  20. The lad tripped over his own feet in the box, I dont think any player in league would tell the referee that though after then penalty had been given.

    Bad decisions usually even themselves out anyway, like the offside goal you scored against us in the 2-2 last season!

  21. I agree Salutsunderland, as an Evertonian who constantly berates our lovable red neighbours (and other teams and players) for their cheating, I was embarrassed by Osman “claiming” the foul. I don’t think he dived (which is something I suppose), but putting his hands up in appeal, is not something I want to see from players in the Royal Blue Shirt. I am obviously pleased we got a draw, but hope decent fans like yourself, continue in your campaign to rid the game of cheating. I have to say that I was proud that our manager openly said it was never a pen. You have got yourselves one of the best managers in the league now, and I expect to see Sunderland moving up the table very soon, but I hope you will forgive me a wry smile after a manager who used to have LUKE YOUNG as a player, said that he may have to tell his forwards to dive in future. best wishes for the new year.

  22. He didn’t dive, he miskicked the ball, kicked the ground and fell over. His only ‘crime’, if you’d even call it that, is that he didn’t go up to Mr Howard Webb MBE and say, “That wasn’t a penalty referee, I’m sorry old chap.” Yeah, he raised his arm; in the heat of the moment he probably thought he’d been clipped. By the time it had registered what had happened, it was too late.

    You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Later in the same game, Royston Drenthe should have had a stonewall penalty when he was struck in the face. He appealed to Webb and got nothing. These things even themselves out. Lord knows, Everton have been on the end of terrible decisions themselves this season, such as the Jack Rodwell sending off against Liverpool, which effectively cost us the game as we were the better side and on top up until that point. The only person who has anything to apologise for the referee for getting so many decisions wrong yesterday. Saha was on inside as well when he broke clear in the first half, replays proved. That was another decision Everton didn’t get. Them’s the breaks.

  23. Ossie waved his arms about and hit the ground knowing he hadn’t been touched, disgraceful. But Howard Webb, Jesus! He took about 5 seconds to blow the whistle after a long look at it and still gave the pen. Will there be any retribution on him, probably not. I’m sure a certain mr Gallagher will be on ssn in next few days defending him. Worst decision I’ve seen since the world cup final of 2010, when de Jong Kung fu kicked xabi Alonso right in front of the refs eyes and got a yellow card, the ref (webb) bottled it. Best ref in uk, I hope not.

  24. It’s not the fall that amounted to cheating (if we exonerate him on the charge of diving, as I have done). It is what he did next. The Shawcross Defence (“he’s not that kind of lad”) isn’t really good enough; wouldn’t it be great to hear from Osman himself? If he were to say “look, it was an instinctive claim. I am not happy about it but we’re practically told on the training ground to do it”, then this thread would begin to look as if it might get somewhere in terms of stamping out behaviour, not confined to foreigners and not confined to “everyone except my club”, that is ruining the game.

    We won’t hear from Ossie, of course. Football at this level is corporate and independent voices of supporters don’t fit the corporate template. But the posting has climbed into the top 10 items in both the Sunderland and Everton pages at newsnow.co.uk, taken us higher than ever in the soccerlinks hitlist (12th a minute ago) and generated a good and reasoned debate, for which the Everton contributors should be thanked. Although first-time posters, which opposing fans are likely to be, are subject to moderation, I have not felt the slightest need to block any Everton comment.

  25. To be fair to Osman I thought he just got his legs in a tangle and ended up kicking the ground. If he intended to do that then he’s a very clever cheat. As for Webb he votes for what he thinks might have happened, and it’s not the first time he’s done this to us with a bad penalty decision. Given the overall game I think that a draw was probably a fair result even though nobody apart from Howard Webb thought it was a penalty; the buffoon.

    He’s supposed to be a world class referee and the best that we have to offer. Hardly any wonder we are the laughing stock.

  26. As an Evertonian I sympathise completely and echo what’s been said here already…it’s not the Everton way.

    I’d also echo AndyMac’s point. Leon’s a model pro; an old school one club man and I can think of no player who I think would be less likely to knowingly cheat.

    There’s no doubt in my mind, from his immediate reaction, that he truly believed his foot had been caught by the defender.

    Of course that’s no consolation. Good luck for the season.

  27. Ossie isnt the type to take a dive, he has probably felt the impact of his foot hitting the turf and honestly beleived it was another player clipping him.

    I can understand your anger as there is no way on Gods green earth that it was a penalty but I think you are venting your anger in the wrong direction. It was simply a woeful decision by the Ref

    Ste – S

  28. Nice to hear Coffeeman say, “It’s not the Everton way.” We could do with a lot more of that attitude in the Premiership, a harking back to the days when most, not just a few clubs, had standards of behaviour on (if not off) the field that players were expected to adhere to.
    Which makes AndyMac’s theory doubly interesting and it possibly could hold water. I don’t know. But this is one that’ll be argued from now until…. the next one. Which will, inevitably, happen.

  29. As I have said on another thread Osman should be punished for such blatant cheating. Webb is unlikely to publicly apologise and I am not sure that there is any formal mechanism for him to do so. But the PL themselves should be being quoted regarding the unacceptability of cheating in the professional game.

    I don’t know if Osman regularly cheats but his actions have resulted in the referee awarding a penalty, potentially getting a fellow professional booked (although no yellow card was shown), and a share of the spoils that they may have got anyway.

    If the league, the TV company and the Clubs do not take a stance then I fear Colin’s worries for the game may come true.

  30. Hi, Saluts. As all Evertonians, Moyes included, (unlike Arse “I didn’t see the incident” Winger) has admitted, it was never a penalty. BUT, we have seen Osman failing to get penalties or fouls when trying to keep his feet when clearly fouled, so, with respect, he isn’t that type of player. I thought it was a pen when I first saw it, but on replay Osman seemed to lose his balance and kick the turf with his rear foot (tit), but he may very well have not realised what happened, and assumed his foot had been taken out by a player. TOTALLY different from the cheating players who see a defender coming in and with no foul commited “leave a trailing leg / foot” to con the ref into thinking they have been tripped. In that, we are all agreed. Hope you stay safe in the Prem, by the way. Good club. With O’Neil, you should be OK. “Salut”, Salut.

  31. It’s not the everton way.. Sorry guys. Let’s hope your lot get some sort of pay off with a decision going your way in an important match in the not to distant future. I’m sure you’ll be equally embarrassed if any acting is envolved.

  32. Osman didn’t dive!!! He mis-kicked and ended up on the floor.It definitely wasn’t a penalty but Ossie a cheat? – NO!

    • Others have said he dived, Tee Tee. I give him the benefit of the doubt since it is possible that he simply fell. Having fallen, he then appealed. That was cheating, unless he has an explanation that escapes me and millions of others.

  33. As an Everton supporter of 40 yrs I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to all Sunderland fans.
    Quite frankly its embarrassing, we’re quite used to watching our diving neighbours Gerrard and Suarez cheating their way through games but Osman !!!!

    • And I would repeat, Steve, that you deserved the point. This site has been rattling on for years about cheating and makes no distinction, based on partisan allegiance, when dishing out the criticism. Unless supporters can somehow persuade a manager like Moyes to back his honest appraisal of such an incident by fining his player for bringing the club into disrepute, it will continue. And ultimately turn a lot of people off football for good.

  34. Osman probably feeds the homeless to sharks. As for Webb, why didn’t he consult his linesmen? Either way, between them they’ve left us in the unenviable position that, whatever happens in the Swansea-QPR game, we drop a place.

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