Football had a bad week last week.
In Scotland, football seemed to implode. This sorry saga will run and run and there will be few winners and many losers.
In England, regardless of the fact that Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, neither of the players came out of the debacle smelling of roses.
Few of us who love the game were surprised at the filthy language the two players showered upon each other. It is slightly disappointing that the “banter” doesn’t quite reach the exquisite levels of sledging in cricket.
However, the telling point was that many have said “it is part of the game” and that to stamp out bad language would be either pointless or, somehow, negative. (NB: Never mind that both Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have both been disciplined for “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” in recent years*). Such language contravenes the laws of the game but referees rarely do anything to stop it.
There are numerous other things that fans and the golf-club of ex-pros which populate our TV studios believe are “part of the game” which actually contravene the laws of the game.
After the game between England and Germany at the 2010 World Cup, Manuel Neuer admitted he knew that the ball had crossed the line but realised that no one had spotted it. His exact words were “I tried not to react to the referee and just concentrate on what was happening. I realised it was over the line and I think the way I carried on so quickly fooled the referee into thinking it was not over.”
He cheated. He knew the ball was over the line, he knew he had conceded a goal but he deliberately conned the referee. To most of us though he did the right thing. It isn’t his job, after all, to referee the game nor is it his job to help the referee. It is part of the game. Can you imagine if your goalkeeper admitted a ball had crossed the line when the referee hadn’t seen it?
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