At the end of a gripping derby between the two shades of blue we have discovered something remarkable.
The deadliest player on the pitch isn’t City playmaker Luke Brattan or golden, shaggy-haired marquee Keisuke Honda. No, this player goes by the name of Deadly Grassblade, and he made his appearance known in the 40th minute.
To recount, 40 minutes 23 seconds into the derby City striker Bruno Fornaroli took the ball down the edge of the Victory box. Three navy shirts lunged after him, but he left them in his wake. He evaded them and he was through to the goal – but not on Deadly Grassblade’s watch.
Grassblade’s magnificent tackle sent Fornaroli crashing into the ground, arms milling, fists pumping, face contorted into a snarling appeal for the penalty. A lengthy pause ensued as Kurt Ams considered this Oscar-winning performance before finally awarding a penalty in recognition of fine acting.
Mark Bosnich tore into the referee at half-time, and he couldn’t be more right – it was a horrible error. The video assistant (VAR) referee and the man in the middle had combined to produce one of the worst officiating howlers in recent memory.
Fornaroli wasn’t touched, yet he went down like he’d been shot. We talk about the VAR malfunction at last season’s grand final as if it makes a difference. On current evidence, VAR would probably have congratulated Kosta Barbarouses on his creative interpretation of offside and still awarded the goal.
Let’s not sugar-coat the facts: Fornaroli dived, plain and simple. His undoubted footballing talent is outmatched only by his stellar acting skills. While such conduct might be the name of the game back in Uruguay, it should not be tolerated in the A-League.
I call upon the FFA to introduce stiffer sanctions for such blatant diving. Is the A-League a place where heroes are made or where actors hone their skills?