Eduardo's Dive: British Xenophobes Must Quit Blaming "Johnny Foreigner"
The picture above shows Eduardo Da Silva coolly slotting home a first-half penalty that put Arsenal well on the road to victory in their Champions League Qualifier against Celtic at the Emirates last night.
Sadly, from a sporting point of view, it never should have been a penalty.
The Croazilian (Brazilian-born and playing for Croatia) took great liberty of the onrushing Artur Boruc to brush off his knee and theatrically go down in the box.
As an Arsenal fan sitting at home watching the game, I was shocked when Spanish referee Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez pointed to the spot. Eduardo's theatrically executed dive gave a hint that he was looking for it.
The Arsenal fan in me wanted him to score to put the tie to bed. The sports fan in me wanted Boruc to save it to notch off the injustice of it all.
As it was, Arsenal went 1-0 up, and since then the debate has raged.
I have heard and seen some of my fellow Gooners claim Eduardo dived to "avoid" Boruc as he still held mental scares from his horrific injury which saw him suffer a leg break.
Personally, this doesn't wash.
One replay from behind the goal clearly shows Eduardo giving a cheeky grin when the referee points to the spot. He knew what he was doing.
Now, before any Arsenal fan accuses me of abandoning my team no matter the right or wrongs, answer me this: Had it been one of the Arsenal scapegoats of Emmanuel Eboue, Nicklas Bendtner, or Alexandre Song that dived, would your opinion be different?
Eduardo has Messiah-like status in North London and rightly so, but that doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to what is in essence cheating: We don't like when it happens to us, do we?
The unthinkable happened with even Arsene Wenger stating that having watched replays he thinks the penalty should not have been given, calling it "very soft."
While what Eduardo did was very wrong, the manner in which he has been treated by the British media since last night is despicable. One would think Eduardo created the art of diving.
As I usually do, I watched the game on Irish channel RTE with pundits Johnny Giles and Ray Houghton. They went through the penalty decision at length, labeled Eduardo's actions as a disgrace and upsetting, but agreed it was systematic of a wider illness in the game. Basically, he had done what many did before him.
Giles and Houghton then went on to offer a constructive resolution to diving in the game. They suggested that a panel be put in place where actions like this can be punished in retrospect.
The goal and result would still stand, but should Eduardo be found guilty of unashamed diving (in this case he would be), he should be banned for three games and fined. As they both agreed, no manager or player wants to see someone banned for such an offense for three games, so it would drastically cut down on this aspect of the game.
Fair enough, I thought; Eduardo can be viewed as having cheated, and if such a panel were in place, not he, Wenger, or Arsenal could have much argument. Indeed, he probably never would have chanced it.
With the programme on RTE breaking for adverts, I then switched over to English channel ITV to listen to their views on the matter.
When I heard what I did, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or throw a shoe through the television.
Kenny Dalglish, a legend in the game, claimed Eduardo dived because he is a foreigner. A foreigner!
Apparently, the "foreigners" aren't too bothered about this type of unsporting behaviour in comparison to their British counterparts.
It just hit me as typical British tabloid rubbish. Everything that is wrong with the British game is the fault of "Johnny Foreigner."
Those on ITV must have very short memories, but I don't.
Last season in the Champions League, Liverpool were trailing Atletico Madrid at Anfield by a goal. Coming into injury time, it seemed that the Spaniards had the game wrapped up. Not for the first time, Steven Gerrard stepped up to save his team.
Except this time he cheated.
Feeling the slightest of slight touches from a defender, he executed the most wonderful of star jumps, and incredibly the referee pointed to the spot. As Eduardo did, Gerrard slotted home. It was as blatant a dive as the one last night.
Except that is not the way ITV viewed it. Oh no! According to them, Gerrard had "played the captain's role in gaining his side an advantage when they needed it most."—Funny, isn't it?
When Eduardo dives, he is a "Johnny Foreigner" ruining the beautiful game. When Steven Gerrard does it, he is "helping his team."
When Dalglish was then corrected by the host, who said, "English players do dive too," Dalglish incredibly suggested that again it was the foreign players' fault and the British players only do it because they see the foreigners doing it.
Isn't it a bit insulting to be calling British players sheep?
So tell me then, Kenny Dalglish, which "foreigner" put the gun to the head of Michael Owen in 1998 to dive and win England a penalty against Argentina? Of course, I forgot—the British media at the time claimed Owen "earned" his team an advantage, not cheated to get it.
Last season, when Wayne Rooney dived, Alex Ferguson laughed it off as Rooney "having learnt it off Robert Pires." The media laughed with him—All "Johnny Foreigner's" evil doings once again.
This contraction and double standards took me back to the Chelsea vs. Barcelona game at Stamford Bridge last season.
Whether you agree or disagree with the decisions the referee made, his place of birth and country of residence should have nothing to do with it.
Unless, of course, you go by the name of Jamie Redknapp, who lambasted the fact that Norwegian refs are working at the top level. It should be the reserve of the bigger and better football countries, he claimed...Because English referees are perfect, aren't they, Jamie?
Tell me again, how many yellow cards do you need to receive before you get sent off? Three! Only if you are Graham Poll, former England referee.
This isn't an attempt to paste the British media as some kind of evil, but exactly what good are they doing for the game in the country? By blaming the foreign contingent in the game, they are exacerbating the problem, not finding a solution.
Have a go at Eduardo for what he did, but what about having a go at Gerrard?
Why is Didier Drogba a cancer on the game when Wayne Rooney is a shining light?
Kenny Dalglish and the rest are doing what they have often blamed "Johnny Foreigner" Arsene Wenger for doing—sticking their head in the sand and not seeing what they don't want to see.
There must be some form of irony lurking there somewhere.
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