The football media in this country seem to think Kevin Muscat sins should be overlooked because he is a character, a point of difference, because he goes against the grain of what is a fairly uneventful competition.
“He gets people talking about the competition,” they say.
A character! A point of difference?
So do criminals.
That doesn’t mean it is right. Okay, maybe that was a slight over exaggeration. Maybe I am still upset over the fact he will be commentating at the World Cup in South Africa, when I won’t be.
But, ask Charlton’s Matty Holmes who he would rather come into contact with. After Muscat’s challenge ended his career, Muscat was labelled “The Most Hated Man in Football”.
Some may consider Muscat entertaining, with his no holds barred approach to the game. Forever nagging and niggling his opposition to get that vital edge, be it physical or mental.
But should that immune him from any punishment from the higher-ups.
Take an example earlier this year , in a sprightly clash between Melbourne Victory and Gold Coast United. Steve Pantelidis copped an 8 game ban for a disgusting elbow on Melbourne’s Robbie Kruse. Pantelidis got everything he deserved.
Muscat made a similar challenge and ended up getting a week. Muscat’s challenge wasn’t as violent but its intent was every bit malicious, its delivery just wasn’t as well executed.
In analysing these incidents, the football media simply said it was “Muscy being Muscy” and highlighted Muscat as a character and a point of difference in the game.
Whilst Pantelidis was criticised by the same people and chastised for his actions.
Is it because , Pantelidis didn’t play alongside several of these men in his time with the Socceroos or came up alongside them in the NSL or forged careers alongside them in Europe.
Pantelidis actions where more extreme than Muscat, but violence is violence.
These actions may be witnessed by youngsters who then replicate what they have seen on the field the next Saturday morning.
I’m sure the youngsters aren’t seen as characters then, or applauded because they give the mums and dads something to talk about.
Muscat’s comments last week regarding the Asian Champions League is another example. To their credit, the football media this time have stuck the boot in.
If Muscat runs down the Asian Champions League competition, then how can you expect a fan to part with their hard earn to nab a seat.
Another example is Harry Kewell escaping punishment for abusing a match official at the 2006 World Cup. It was seen as Kewell being “passionate in support of his teammates”.
Everyone who wasn’t Australian saw it as abusing a match official. Again a great message to send to the youngsters watching at home.
The game is bigger than one man. The same rules should apply for all. The game is struggling enough in this country without kicking itself in the backside as well.
Muscat has been a great servant to the game. For his clubs and country.
But cheap shots are not a way to get respect and in the end you can only lose it.
Muscat is a character and a point of difference. He certainly gets people talking. But sometimes he hurts the sport more than he helps it.
My point is simple. Regardless of who you are, you do the crime, you do the time.
Players will come and go. The game is what’s most important.