OPINION: Cheating is alive and well at World Cup
SWC 2018 (adidas)
Johannesburg - The sight of Brazilian forward Neymar rolling around in apparent agony, allegedly having been fouled is bad enough, but to hear a former England and Manchester United defender suggesting that a player who has been touched should go down and look for a penalty is something else.
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Yes, despite all the efforts by Fifa to stamp out this “cancer” in our game, the epidemic appears to be as bad, if not worse, than ever before.
In one instance, the Brazilian wizard was stamped on and none of the officials saw it.
The question that needs to be asked and answered is, where were they looking? The referee had the power to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system, but decided not to. Why, only he and the Lord above know.
If he had consulted the VAR team, he would surely have red-carded the offender. It was clear as day that the opponent, whose name escapes me at the moment, clearly – and in my opinion deliberately – stood on Neymar’s ankle. That is violent conduct and is punishable by a straight red card.
The theatrics and rolling around that followed were way over the top and would surely qualify for an award at next year’s Oscars. Very soon after that near encounter with death, Neymar got up, resumed playing and contributed a major part to Brazil going through to the quarter-finals with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Mexico.
The second rant I have concerns former England and Man United defender Rio Ferdinand. He is a guest pundit on the BBC as it covers the tournament.
Let me put it in context. In the game between Japan and Belgium, Ferdinand was a studio guest when a Belgian winger was fouled in the Japanese penalty area. If he had gone down, he would surely have been awarded a penalty, but Yannick Ferreira Carrasco decided to stay on his feet and continue playing.
As it turned out, the ball was cleared and the game continued.
The presenter of the show suggested that, because of his honesty, the player was “penalised” for staying upright, to which Ferdinand retorted that if he was his captain, he would have had strong words with him in the dressing room at half-time.
Now you see what referees and their assistants have to put up with? If ever there was living proof that players are deliberately cheating, surely it is this interview.
My third rant is the sight of players crowding around the referee when decisions aren’t in their favour. It has been so blatant in this tournament that it’s almost nauseating.
Remember Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates during which Ronaldo was booked? You could see his jugular vein about to explode. Is that a good role model for up-and-coming youngsters?
Fifa sent out instructions to all teams participating in Russia not to crowd around the referee when he is consulting the VAR. Are they obeying? No. Why aren’t they obeying these instructions? Because there are no consequence for their actions.
Why are the referees not taking action against these offenders? Because some of them are gutless and don’t have the backbone to take action.
So far, I’ve seen only one real refereeing performance and that was from Iranian referee Alireza Faghani.
When players came towards him to protest, he held his arms out in front of him as if to say: “This far, no further.”
Excellent professional and competent officiating. It can only get better – I hope.
Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol