Michael Brown: Cheats still prospering in football

45 comments
Ben Sigmund and Jeronimo Neumann in action on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Sigmund and Jeronimo Neumann in action on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

The biggest thing to come out of the Ben Sigmund/Jeronimo Neumann controversy is that cheats continue to prosper in football and it will take something exceptional for them to be eliminated.

The rewards of diving are too great for players to purge it from their arsenal. It's a skill as useful as a Cruyff turn or stepover.

Sigmund's red card from Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Adelaide, quite amazingly, stands and he will miss Monday's trip to take on the Melbourne Victory. Jeronimo, meanwhile, will be free to play against Brisbane on Sunday despite blatantly diving in an attempt to win a foul and potentially get Sigmund sent off - he got both.

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) could still take action against Wellington captain Andrew Durante and coach Ricki Herbert for their comments directed at referee Jarred Gillett. Durante called Gillett "shocking" and Herbert essentially called him incompetent.

They were ill-advised but their reactions understandable. Players and coaches should respect officials but it should also be reciprocal. Sigmund has been let down.

Two years ago the FFA introduced retrospective penalties for diving but their own rules, quite bizarrely, don't allow them to take action against Jeronimo in this case. Unless Sigmund's red card was overruled, which it should have been, they can't penalise Jeronimo.

This is crazy. Both players should be judged in isolation.

Diving, or simulation as it is often referred to, is not a problem afflicting only the A-League.

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres was booked and subsequently sent off for diving against Manchester United last weekend and Everton captain Phil Neville was also booked for going down too easily against Liverpool. Instead of bemoaning his bad luck, Neville was embarrassed, but his reaction is rare.

"It was a stupid thing to do," Neville said.

"But I got a good kick up the backside at half-time as I couldn't commit to tackles in the second half. I'll take the rollicking and I won't do it again, that's for sure."

It was bad timing because, in the lead-up to the Merseyside derby, Everton coach David Moyes attacked Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for his predilection for diving.

Suarez is one of the worst offenders in the game but his reputation as a diver now works against him and he often fails to win a penalty when he should. There are many, however, who are rewarded.

They might invite scorn for going down too easily but, equally, might win a game for their side. The rewards are obvious, especially when punishments are virtually non-existent.

The issue was examined extensively in English football earlier this year but little has changed. It won't until lawmakers adopt a tough stance.

"As a player, if contact was made and you felt you had lost control, or you were not in as good a position as you were, then you were not exactly told but, as a professional, would be expected to try to make the most of the opportunity," English football players' association boss Gordon Taylor said. "That is the more cynical side of the game, bearing in mind what is at stake. You are damned if you do, damned if you don't."

There is some symbolism in Jeronimo's name, given it was something shouted by American paratroopers in World War II when jumping out of a plane to show they would leap without fear.

Players can afford to do that in football, as well.

- APNZ

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 29 Nov 2014 09:55:49 Processing Time: 454ms