Oct 11, 2007

Let's Applaud UEFA For Punishing Theatrics

By now you've probably heard that UEFA has punished AC Milan goalkeeper Dida for his pathetic acting display in last week's Champions League game at Celtic Park. Soccer's European governing body suspended the Brazilian goalkeeper for two games, which sounds about appropriate to me. Repulsive acting displays have plagued the game for too long and the powers-that-be have wasted too much time without taking action against it. I mean, seriously: Besides the occasional yellow card, can you think of any punishment being handed down for acting? Ever? I know FIFA did a lot of talking ahead of last year's World Cup, but that's exactly what it was: talk. Talk is cheap. It doesn't work, least of all with cheaters, which is what you call players who intentionally try to deceive officials.

I don't care who is responsible for starting this plague of theatrics that has gone on for a generation (or more--certainly as long as I can remember and I've been following the sport since the early 1980s). Some will argue that it is more prevalent with Southern European or South American players. There may be some truth to that, but I don't particularly care because they are by no means the only ones doing it. But yes, I do view it as a plague. It has poisoned the game and given "soccer haters" in this country and elsewhere something to rally around. And you know what? They have a point. How can you defend a sport where somebody writhes around on the ground in what appears to be excruciating pain one moment, only to get up and scamper back into the game the next? You can't. And no, other sports don't have it. At least not to this extent. Or even anything close.

Now I know the Dida incident didn't come during the run of play and that the Brazilian arguably had nothing to gain by pulling it in the first place. But that just proves how deeply ingrained it is in the modern game: faced with an unprecedented and inexplicable event, Dida's recourse (after an initial attempt at pursuing his attacker) was to go down like he had been shot. We don't know why he did it, but I think he simply couldn't come up with anything better. Which again, makes a statement. I also know I haven't mentioned Celtic's lax security, which was to blame for letting the fan run onto the field in the first place. But Celtic also got penalized, to the tune of a GBP25,000 fine (though that arguably amounts to a slap on the wrist for a team with Celtic's coffers, but that's another story for another day). And that one was a no-brainer anyway. The Dida suspension, which will undoubtedly hurt Milan on the field, was a bolder attempt by UEFA to take a stance against something that has vexed the sport for a long time. And it's got teeth. I, for one, expect it to work.


  1. It seems to me like Dida suddenly had the idea that if a Celtic fan knocked him out of commission, then perhaps UEFA would have been forced to award a victory for Milan by forfeit.

    Unfortunately for him, he thought of it about a second to soon, and kudos to UEFA for punishing the bad acting.

    I just wish MLS would do the same for Carlos Ruiz's head grabbing after Ricardo Clark gave him the kick that everyone who's ever seen Ruiz play wanted to deliver.

  2. yeah Ruiz is a little bitch. he pulls that stuff all the time.