The rotten face of football part two. In its relentless campaign to show up football cheats for what they are (whoever they play for), Salut! Sunderland has suffered arrogant, whingeing fans of other clubs who believe it happens only to them, never by. But we’ve been consistent, and as ready to condemn such acts by our players as by opponents. And the World Cup has reminded us of most of the forms cynical cheating takes …
To borrow from and adapt the words commonly attributed to Jack London (he was talking about scabs) ….
After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made, for the game of football, the diver/feigner of injury/shirtpuller/bonebreaker and Suarez.
Each of these is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.
Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.
When he comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.
But God still had something left, a substance so vile that only one use could be found for it: he turned it into players who regard it as perfectly acceptable to try to get opponents shown yellow and red cards.
In truth, the substance cannot have been in short supply. We have seen, in match after match, the tactic used as if taken straight from the Manual of Good Football Practice. Van Bommel haranguing the referee after an outrageously threatrical dive by Robben made it look as if Michel Bastos, already on a yellow, had cut him in two (as opposed to barely fouling him at all, unlike in the first half when he fouled him quite a lot).
But we have seen it often enough from most other countries, too. And we get it week after week in the Premier.
Whether it is Buffon racing half the length of the field to ensure Zidane’s dismissal for butting Materazzi, Rooney turning to the ref (and not just for the free kick) each time he goes down or bunches of Arsenal, Man Utd or any other team’s players surrounding the ref in simulated anger, it is simply wrong. It would be just as wrong if Sunderland players were the culprits.
I would make it an offence, punishable by an automatic card, for one player to attempt to get another booked or sent off.
Is that, as I believe, a straightforward and unanswerable cry for decency in football? Or am I being hopelessly naive in seeking to apply any semblance of the Corinthian spirit to the game?