Paul Ince was a very good player, but apparently, he didn’t shower very well – at least not according to Gianpetro Piovani anyway. Back when the “Guv’nor” – idiotic nickname by the way, Paul – played for Internazionale, he was defending a corner against Piacenza when Piovani hit the floor quicker than terminal velocity. What had the Englishman done, slit his opponent’s throat? Punched him in the gonads? In fact, all he had done was stand perfectly still about two metres away. Incredibly, the referee brandished a red card to Ince.
I’m yet to make up my mind as to what was more heinous – the acting from the Italian, or the referee being conned so easily. The endless repeats the moment in question produced made the official look either extremely blind or extremely rich from bribes. Hindsight and a pause button are invaluable tools for the modern referee in all of us, but even still it was staggering how the red card was produced.
On the other hand, the acting was so convincing you’d think Piovani had just got back from the Edinburgh Fringe. Yes, it is easy and popular to criticise referees, but in all fairness the man in black had to contend with seeing through the spectacular performance professionally designed to con him. These deplorable scumbags dedicate a considerable amount of time and effort to help form the decision of the official. What is far worse, however, are those who say that this is ‘part of the game’.
Simulation is bad enough, but trying to somehow claim it is in the nature of the sport itself? Give me strength. Without needing to go into full-on caveman mode, it’s enough to sicken you to the stomach when you see a player resort to faking injury. Back in the day, Bert Trautman played with a broken neck, while hulking Geordie legend Jackie Milburn barely batted an eyelid when a teenage Duncan Edwards practically kicked him off the pitch.
OK, let’s fight fair; hands up who would knowingly con the referee themselves, given the chance? Admittedly, there are a fairly sizeable number of raised hands I can see out there, but in what godforsaken universe does that attitude tally up to the beautiful game? It’s only part of the game if you make it so you muppets.
Before anyone mistakes me for a Breitbart correspondent, I am in no way taking aim specifically at overseas players here. If anything, English players appear to be taking to conning referees quite well, even if they may be lacking some flair in their multi-roll spectacles.
Luis Suárez and The Joy of Cheating
The worst of all though is the brazen lack of shame with which some are proud of their ability to contravene the spirit of the game. That buck-toothed rat – sorry, talented forward – Luis Suárez epitomises the worst of this. A World Cup quarter final is a tense stage for sure, and the instinctive dart of his hand to keep out a Ghanaian shot was on a basic level understandable. I genuinely defy almost anyone to have the instinct or morals to draw their hand away in the suffocating pressure of the global stage.
It was how he cheered ecstatically from the sidelines as Asamoah missed from the spot that pissed me off though. The comments that poured forth from Gus Poyet were symptomatic of the issue. “You are telling me the player had to let the ball go in? Is that football? I think you’re missing something really important here.” Sorry Gus, but you’re totally wrong there mate. By the letter of the law, yes he has to let the ball go in if he can’t keep it out legally. Ergo, it is cheating.
The problem is not that he did it, terrible as the act was. The real issue was the millions across the globe who still couldn’t see anything wrong with it. The ecstasy on Suárez’s face as he wildly celebrated the tainted fruits of his underhand tactics showed one of the worst sides of football. His initial delight at seeing his country stay in the match partly fuelled his joy, but you can bet your bottom Uruguayan peso that it was more down to how ‘clever’ he had been.
If you defend his honour, I’m sorry but you’re an imbecile. There’s a world of difference between a moment of weakness on the pitch, and actually trying to defend it in the cold light of day. Be brutally honest for a moment; how would you have felt if you had been Suarez’s teammate? Would you have celebrated with him as a hero like Poyet suggested he would have? Would you have felt embarrassed, even just a little bit, while outwardly joyous? Or would you have turned away ashamed?
We’re all free to react how we want, of course. Just don’t you dare taint the game I love with disgusting morals and set foot near me. I have a beard, I am 6”3”, I have lived in Siberia for the best part of a decade, and have serious anger management issues – you have been warned.