FIFA must stop on-field theatrics
Carlos Hernandez (right) of Melbourne Victory contests the ball against Fred of Melbourne Heart, during their round 12 match of the A-League season at AAMI park in Melbourne on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)
Footballers have the potential to become reasonably good actors once they decide to hang up their boots. But it’s their on-field acting which has been plaguing the beautiful game for some time now.
Call it gamesmanship or deception, it’s here to stay. On-field theatrics have sadly become a major tactical part of the game. For all the brute force the players possess, it’s such an anomaly that the faintest of touches and nudges can bring them crashing to ground.
While some might consider it fair to indulge in a certain degree of fraud on the field, it is an act of cowardliness.
Playacting is something that is tarnishing the image of the game. However, according to Sepp Blatter, on-field behaviour has improved in recent years. This is not the case. However we are not surprised by inaccurate statements from Mr Blatter.
What happens is pretty straightforward these days. A player simulates a foul to get a free kick and impose a penalty on the guiltless opponent.
This intent is a spineless stab at pulling strings, is totally detestable and is a disgrace to the sport followed by billions.
In every match in every league or international fixture, playacting is prevalent and is bound to worsen in the years to come as FIFA seem to be taking no action against it. It’s awfully common in the Primera Liga with players from two of the biggest clubs in the world, Barcelona and Real Madrid, being masters at this craft.
Avram Grant, who led Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final, has overtly said that negative tactics are a part of team strategy in modern-day football. Let’s have a look at some of the high-profile incidents that have been etched in memory for the wrong reasons in recent times.
In a 2002 World Cup match between Brazil and Turkey, Brazilian superstar Rivaldo was fined just £5,000 for one of the most embarrassing cases of faking in the history of the game. He pretended as though the ball hit his face when the ball was kicked towards him by a Turkish player who was sent off.
Rivaldo has never accepted the fact that he indulged in an act of cowardliness.
While the great Diego Maradona scored one of the greatest individual goals ever in the history of the game in the 1986 World Cup against England, the match is remembered for his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal for which he received no punishment.
Thierry Henry, one of the game’s most graceful performers, had his reputation in tatters when he controlled the ball with his hand twice in the 103rd minute of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Ireland in 2009. He passed the ball to team-mate William Gallas who then scored to send France into World Cup 2010.
Henry eventually agreed that he used his hand but claimed that it’s the referee’s job to spot the hand-ball.
The beautiful game isn’t a television reality show. FIFA should not give in to the whims and fancies of on-field drama and cheap antics. Despite several incidents, they are being too slack by not punishing the perpetrators, which sends the wrong message across to players and coaches thereby, amplifying the concern.
Moreover, with the organisation’s outright refusal to employ technology in the game to minimise erroneous decisions, the recurrence of such gutless acts on the field is only going to worsen as the years roll by.
It’s also unfortunate that fans have begun to accept and cheer these cowardly deeds when it’s done to their team’s advantage. In a way, this implies that modern football does have a negative impact on the moral values of society.