Ok, first let me nail my colours to the mast. I began kicking a ball around the streets when I was five years old and played until I injured my knee in my 30s.
I watched my first professional game at the age of seven – with my father and grandfather – and spent the next 25 years, or so, spending a fortune in football grounds from Kidderminster to Khartoum in search for the elusive magic of the game.
I confess I am a romantic; I respect courage and wit on the field of play and despise those who try to cheat their way through it.
So, when I turn on World Cup football I often wince at the chicanery and dishonesty among the world’s finest players. Why is it that people have to roll around for five minutes after the slightest of knocks? Why do people go down holding their faces for no reason whatsoever, or why do people leap, like a young salmon, from the ground when no one has touched them.
What really gets to me in the modern game is how, when players have chopped the legs from under the opponent, they will clutch their head, as if shot, and fall to the ground in the hope of avoiding a yellow card. Players who run to the referee banging their hand appealing for handball even though the ball cannoned home off the striker’s right foot.
All this from players who have been gifted with the finest talents. All I can say is – pathetic.
How do such great players find the time to cheat at the game? When I was playing the finest of the finest never found the time to cheat. Most players, who are honest, will tell you they pulled a shirt here and there, but the best players were so busy letting their talent shine that they had no time, nor the energy, to cheat.
What on earth did Luis Suárez think he was doing when he bit an Italian defender in the shoulder? A man who can run rings around the fastest the world has to offer, guilty of the kind of act that even a drunken man after the bars close would be ashamed of. A four month ban? Four years is more like it. The greatest players had little time for cheating and neither do I.
What kind of message does all of this on-screen dishonesty send to our children? It is saying that if you cheat and get away with it, it is ok you will get a penalty and probably score it, all in HD. Who said cheats never prosper – sadly, in most high level games, they do.
BY: CHRIS BISHOP