Are They Mad? John Terry, Sir Alex Weigh In On Divers
Eduardo-gate keeps gaining steam in its quest to become the most surreal and farcical incident ever to be dealt with by UEFA.
First, we had UEFA handing out an unprecedented two-match band to the Arsenal striker, a massive increase in gravity from the standard yellow card he would have received had he been punished during the match.
Just days later, Arsenal was a cruel victim of karma as Wayne Rooney went down under the strong challenge of, well, nobody. Last time I checked, there was no UEFA investigation into that matter, even though slow-motion replays clearly show that Rooney was on his way down before any contact.
Now, we're treated to the expert opinions of John Terry and Sir Alex Ferguson. These two gentlemen apparently felt that their own anti-diving stances needed to be added to the discussion, despite the fact that several of Terry's England teammates are known offenders, as well as a few players on the books at Old Trafford.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
I'll start with Ferguson, because his comments actually contained some truth.
In a conference of coaches organized by UEFA, Ferguson stated, "Something should be done and we hope the message gets across."
A valid opinion, certainly. The vast majority of people involved in football, from the fans to the managers to most of the players, seem to agree that diving only hurts the game and should be eradicated.
Shortly after that statement, Ferguson dives off the deep end.
"I would not criticise one of my own players publicly. When you make public criticism of your players, you damage morale. Your job is to keep [the dressing room] solid."
I'd wager that most non-Manchester United fans find it very difficult to believe that Ferguson ever reprimanded Rooney or Ronaldo after one of their spectacular diving exhibitions.
In fact, I'd wager that dressing-room discussions about diving are more of the "don't get caught" variety rather than "don't do it again." Football managers are quite adroit at becoming temporarily blinded when one of their own is busy doing their best Greg Lougainis impression. What's to say that this indifference doesn't extend to the dressing room?
With all of the video evidence against United's players, Sir Alex would make a more meaningful contribution to the debate if he just stayed quiet.
This brings us to John Terry, who deserves some sort of recognition for his ignorant statements.
At a press conference during England's preparations for their next round of World Cup Qualifiers, Terry asserted that English players don't dive, and their reluctance to simulate hurts them on the international stage.
I'll give you all a moment to pick your jaws off the floor.
Sadly, it's true. Terry had the audacity to publicly claim that English players are too honest to dive.
"I can speak about the England lads and I think it is something we don't do," said Terry. "I think we're too honest, sometimes even in the Premier League you see the English lads get a bit of contact and stay on their feet and try and score from the chance they have been given.
"I think sometimes that honesty goes against us. I think sometimes as a country we're too honest. I think the Eduardo one was a dive and we can all see that and it is disappointing to see because Arsenal are a quality side and I don't think they want to be portrayed like that."
As a country, England is too honest? Just a few minutes of searching will reveal quite the opposite. England harbors some of the most notorious divers in Europe.
We've already covered Rooney, but that still leaves Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Joe Cole as known divers. Terry should be plenty familiar with the antics of Lampard and Cole, because he's been able to witness them taking dives for both club and country.
For exhibit one, I'd like to present Frank Lampard's tidy effort in the FA Cup Final against Everton. Thankfully, he was booked for his troubles, but it certainly doesn't help Terry's case.
Take a look at Joe Cole in action here. Spectacular, and shameful. That looks to be anything but honest play, Mr. Terry.
And then we come to Steven Gerrard. Not only is Gerrard a frequent diver, he speaks out against diving as well. The video evidence would suggest that Mr. Gerrard is a hypocrite. And, unfortunately for the credibility of Terry's statement, Gerrard is also an Englishman.
Despite the evidence against his statements, perhaps we should give Terry the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's just trying to get the rest of the world to embrace the dive-free fantasyland that he's created in his own mind. Let's see what he said later in the press conference...
"As Chelsea first came into the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, I think we had to adapt, because in the last minute of games we were giving away silly fouls that weren't [fouls]. I think we have to adapt to the game and if the rules are there and the referees are giving them fouls we have to play along with that as well.
"I think that is how we play, if there is a foul or a touch and you're through on goal you go down. If you stay on your feet and [the referee] realises you don't get a full contact on the shot after that, it is for the referee to decide."
Stop me if I'm wrong, but that seems like Terry is encouraging diving. He's using the classic "everybody does it" defense, and telling his England teammates that they, too, must flop around on the pitch like a wounded deer if they hope to compete.
If his first statements didn't completely incinerate his credibility, surely those have done the job. Should we accept diving if it makes our national team more competitive?
Suddenly, this article by Mary becomes even more serious.
Diving is definitely a serious issue, one of the ugliest parts of modern football. We should be taking steps to eradicate it, not encourage it. Hopefully John Terry will realize that his statements are only adding to the problem.
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