This is the most entertaining FIFA World Cup in living memory. And England have won a game on penalties after putting their fans through the wringer for the umpteenth time! But when will the football authorities, once and for all, appropriately punish the offensive, histrionic behaviour displayed, in some cases, by some of the most famous and talented footballers on the planet?
It is appalling enough when referees are shown dissent by hissing player after hissing player or surrounded by a pack of snarling brats attempting to get an opponent booked or sent off. It is equally abhorrent when players feign injury to waste time or, as above, to try and get an opponent carded. But when those players are global “role models” like Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar, it really is high time that suitable action was taken.
Let’s face it, Ronaldo has been cheating for years. He may be a supremely gifted player, but his conspicuous and repeated attempts to deceive officials with dive after dive after dive has been a blot on the footballing landscape for way too long. And who can forget his odious part in getting Wayne Rooney sent off in the 2006 World Cup? And then he had the temerity to wink towards the Portugal bench as if to say: “That worked pretty well eh, fellas?” Cristiano Ronaldo: what a complete and utter winker.
But the Portugal captain (that’s right, a national captain who lacks any respect for a sport that pays him zillions) took his nauseous behaviour to new depths on Saturday against Uruguay when it didn’t take the world’s most skilled lip-reader to ascertain that he shouted “Fuck you” to the referee. Ronaldo was shown only yellow.
And then there was Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, who reacted in the most contemptible manner on Monday when Mexico’s Miguel Layun did no more than rest a foot on his ankle. Like Ronaldo and many other footballers, Neymar is a serial cheat who attempts to dupe officials. But the manner in which he rolled around, seemingly in agony, in an attempt to get Layun punished was shameful beyond belief.
The authorities should sanction cheats like Ronaldo and Neymar more heavily, rather than merely brandishing an occasional yellow card. With VAR, these miserable miscreants can quite easily be found guilty of their foul antics while the game is still in progress. A yellow card? Why not introduce a sin-bin system à la rugby union with, say, an orange card indicating 15 minutes in the cooler for those who try to cheat or intimidate the officials?
Mind you, a few red cards would hopefully serve to eradicate such execrable antics in double-quick time. And why not also follow rugby union’s example by introducing a post-match citing period, whereby a player deemed to have cheated or behaved in unsportsmanlike fashion can be punished retrospectively?
Let this obnoxious cheating be eradicated from football forthwith. It is a blight that has tyrannised the “beautiful game” for too long now.