Divers Beware: The Lesson of Nelson Dida
And by "viciously bitch-slapped," I mean "gently tapped."
And by "sidelined," I mean "suspended for the next two Champions League matches for being a big, dumb faker."
Footage of the incident, now available on YouTube, clearly shows that Dida has mastered the art of the flop.
After Celtic forward Scott McDonald scored a tie-breaking goal in the 90th minute, an over-exuberant fan ran onto the field and, to add insult to defeat, gave Dida a tap on the neck or shoulder.
Dida initially turned to chase the fan—but promptly collapsed after a few steps, holding his face. He was ultimately taken off on a stretcher, with an ice-pack pressed to his cheek.
Dida isn't the first football player to consider "diving" a legitimate on-field tactic—but that doesn't make it any less dishonourable.
In fact, it's cheating, plain and simple.
Dida's indiscretion was so blatant and so egregious that it's damaged his own reputation. The most pointed example: Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly looking for a goaltender to replace him.
If a slimy cheater like "Il Cavaliere" can't support your underhanded tactics, you've definitely gone too far.
Unfortunately, not much is likely to come of the incident. Despite Berlusconi's bluster, Dida will likely stay with Milan. And even if he doesn't, the world-class keeper won't have any trouble finding a new home.
The only hope is that Dida, jackass that he is, will continue to suffer in the spotlight a little while longer. If his suspension is upheld and Milan suffers in the Champions League as a result, we can say at least say that justice has been served.
And maybe—just maybe—the embarrassing nature of the incident, and the ensuing suspension, will serve as a deterrent to potential fakers in the future.
It's a simplistic and perhaps even naive assumption—but if the rewards of diving are replaced by ridicule and suspension, there would no longer seem to be any incentive to take a dive.
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