Eduardo, Jermain Defoe and the Great English Hypocrisy

Joseph MillardCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates as he scores their second goal during the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and BSC Young Boys at White Hart Lane on August 25, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Good morning. Let me take you back about a year. Arsenal were playing Celtic in the second leg of a Champions League qualifier. The second leg was largely academic as Arsenal's 2-0 win away at Parkhead meant just barring the most incredible of comebacks from a Celtic side that proved themselves thoroughly incapable of anything of the sort in both games.

Arsenal were going through without difficulty to the group stage.

Arsenal controlled the second leg, and were unfortunate not to be ahead on the night long before their first goal, but as it was, that goal came about after a penalty was incorrectly awarded to Arsenal following a challenge by Artur Boruc on Eduardo Da Silva, with Eduardo making the most of, at best, minimal contact from the Celtic goalkeeper.

In the aftermath of that incident, the fact that Arsenal were already comfortably winning, and indeed comprehensively won, both legs of the tie were swept under the rug by the English media.

You would have thought that the tie was poised at 0-0 and that the penalty Eduardo gained, took and scored was the only difference between the two sides over 180 minutes.

More than that, you could also have been forgiven for thinking that Eduardo was the worst kind of scum walking the Earth if you read or listened to the character assassinations that were performed on him by English television and radio shows, as well as the newspapers.

Eduardo was vilified, Arsenal were once again scapegoated for all the evils in football by the British press and, quite frankly, the whole thing was blown so massively out of proportion you would have thought
Eduardo's dive threatened to bring about the end of the world.

Faced with such a massive outcry, UEFA attempted to discipline
Eduardo with a two-match ban for "attempting to deceive the referee."

It was a charge so ridiculous it was easily dismissed on appeal.

Nevertheless, the effect was lasting. Arsenal were denied refereeing decisions, especially penalties consistently throughout the course of last season, and the effect on
Eduardo's career is easy to see, as he now plays his football in the Ukraine.

So with that incident in mind, let me take you forward again to last night.

Tottenham Hotspur were playing Young Boys in the second leg of a Champions League qualifier. The second leg was finely poised as the aggregate score was tied at 3-3 with Spurs having a narrow advantage on away goals. Although Spurs were in control at that point, there was no reason to think the match was beyond Young Boys, and Spurs had a fight on their hands to get through to the group phase.

The crucial second goal of the night came to Spurs through a piece of outrageous cheating from Jermain Defoe. With a high ball coming in, Defoe clearly and deliberately controlled the ball with his hand, bringing the ball down to enable him to score the goal that put Spurs firmly on their way to the group phase.

What consequences then for Defoe?

Is he waking up this morning to headlines branding him the enemy of football? Is he facing a tabloid campaign to blacken his name in every corner of the footballing world? Will he have to watch the video of last night's game back and listen to ITV's commentators condemn his actions and call for cheaters like him to be expelled from the game? Indeed, does he face the threat of a two-match ban for attempting to deceive the referee?Β 

Of course not. Because he's English, and his cheating helped good old 'Arry's team win the game. The fact that (as the BBC's Mark Bright, in a rare attack of honesty concerning an English player in the English media, pointed out) Defoe has a prolific history of being penalised for handball, and Eduardo was, to the best of my knowledge, never penalised for diving is apparently irrelevant.

The jingoism of the English press is clearer than ever.

What Defoe did last night was not only on a par with Eduardo's "dive" against Celtic, but it was far worse. What Defoe did swung the tie decisively, and yet he's not the subject of a witch hunt. What he did apparently isn't a bad example to the youngsters watching at home.

Lady ArseΒ sums up the hypocrisy with far greater aplomb than I could hope to manage.

The fact that it is the very same idiots at ITV who began the whole ridiculous Eduardo saga who have so conveniently ignored Defoe's cheating only serves to highlight the double standards that exist in English football "journalism."

The English press still complain to this day about Diego Maradona's "hand of god" goal against England back in the 1986 World Cup. The incident is used as evidence of the good honest English being cheated by nasty foreigners. That attitude is a complete farce because we here in England are as adept at bending the rules as any nation on Earth.

The reason for that is simpleβ€”cheaters are everywhere. It is human nature to cheat, and there are prolific cheaters in every country on the globe in abundance. The long held belief by some in the media that English football was free from diving and cheating until foreign players started coming in to the Premier League is absolute nonsense.

English players have simply been allowed to get away with it without it being remarked upon.

Lady Arse points it out well in the post I linked to above. What analysis did ITV give the Defoe incident? I'll let Lady Arse tell you.

"It was Beglin and that other muppet who started the crusade against Eduardo which eventually drove him from our club. And how do they deal with Defoe's handball? Do they ask why he didn't own up to it like a good little professional? Did they call for cheating to be eliminated from the game, citing the destruction of our youth from idolising a bunch of over-paid idiots who think it's ok to win at any cost? Did they empathise with Young Boys?

"Did they ****. 'He got away with it' said Beglin, sounding as if he was trying to suppress a little chuckle."

And that sums up the attitude of the English media. It's, "Oops, got away with one there" if it's an English player who cheats and "FILTH! CHEAT! SCUM! CORRUPTING OUR CHILDREN!" if it's a foreigner.

If I were feeling really malicious I could suggest that part of the reason why the reaction to Eduardo's "dive" was so vehement was because journalists had been waiting for a chance to stick the boot in on
Eduardo ever since the incident where Martin Taylor broke his leg with a tackle that was among the most thuggish I've ever seen.

After all, it was
Eduardo getting his leg broken that caused good old English "Tiny Taylor," the nicest most English goody two shoes you could ever meet to be the victim of the evil Arsene Wenger, who dared to express anger at his fellow foreigner having his career endangered by a reckless attempt at a challenge.

By showing the world that
Eduardo was actually a despicable cheat, it meant that there was no need to sympathise with him and therefore nothing to blame a good old English lad for when Eduardo's leg was broken.

I realise that talking to Arsenal fans about this, I am somewhat preaching to the choir. We all know the treatment given to Arsenal's nasty foreigners and England's saintly Three Lions for the same behaviour will be totally different where the media is concerned. But that doesn't mean that hypocrisy should be ignored, and not challenged when we're presented with it.

'Arry Redknapp is the journalist's best friend, so I doubt he'll be asked any searching questions about his player and his team's integrity.

But nevertheless he'll know that he got away with it last night in more ways than one. His team will be left alone to prepare for their next game while the hacks in the English media sharpen their knives ready to stick them in the next time one of those nasty foreigners steps out of line.