Orlando's picture

    America: Home of the Free, the Brave, and the Cheaters

    Thierry Henry is headed for New York. Who is Thierry Henry? Well, that's a complicated question.

    Wait. No, it's not. He's a cheater.

    I understand that cheating, or at least pushing the limits of fair play, is a part of soccer. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. Inadvertent handballs are one thing, but catching the ball and putting it on your foot is certainly another. He didn't even try to hide it.

    While we're on the subject, I still hate the diving and the pretending to be injured. I didn't see too much diving during the World Cup, but oh if I had a dollar for each time a player fell to the ground and rolled around clutching a knee or an ankle like the only possible treatment was amputation of the bloody, severed limb. Of course, there usually wasn't any blood and as soon as the little tyke realized he wasn't getting attention from the ref, he popped up and rejoined the action. I wonder if the refs take parenting classes because that is classic Toddler 101.

    I actually think that Henry's move to the United States might be his penance. Certainly, at only 33, his elite-club career doesn't have to be over for another year or two. Maybe he did it because he can feel himself losing a step against younger defenders. Maybe he did it for the money. Maybe he did it because France sucked as much as it is possible to suck during the World Cup and he wants to be as far, far away from that suckage. Or, maybe he did it because he doesn't want to play in Europe where the fans in almost every stadium--especially in Ireland--would be all to happy to remind him of what he is--or at least what he was in 2009: a cheater.



    You'll just never understand soccer ;)

    But Henry wouldn't have made this move if he could have still played at a top-flight European team. The last two years his game has dropped off significantly.

    Maybe that's why he had to use his fist. I haven't really followed him since Arsenal, so I imagined he had another year or two in him.

    Also, I've forgotten more about soccer than you probably know. I've got some very important tutors. Don't make me name drop. Tongue out

    I just tried to watch the original handball and a few other classic World Cup moments. All blocked by FIFA for copyright violations.

    You know, I have something important to say that's long overdue, and this seems as appropriate a spot as any...

    Fuck you, FIFA! You're nothing but a pack of overblown, imperious, anachronistic, possessive, pigheaded asswipes!

    Ah, I feel better already.

    The word rhyming with RIFA has been copyrighted itself, so I hope you're ready for the takedown notices… Wink

    They've also copyrighted Pele's name. He now needs FIFA's express written consent to introduce himself.

    Wow, G. That book thing is really stressing you out, huh? Even I don't get that angry.

    The rhetoric might be a bit over the top, but I've got a particular aversion to small-minded imperiousness.

    Gotta love Henry. And his "cheating" wasn't nearly as deliberate as Suarez's, so I cut him some slack. Besides, it was FRance, so I just add it to the list of their National Failings.

    But yeah, the diving. They're destroying the game with the referee-dominanted 1 goal games, which produces the diving - but since revenues are up, and it's the Beautiful Game, then all is well. Someday they'l realize they ned to change, the game will soar, and people will wonder why it took so long. Right now, all the soccer experts buy this cynical line that it's part of the game. Whatevs.

    Jeez, quinn. You of all people should know what Suarez did wasn't "cheating." The game was on the line, and he acted instinctively, out of desperation. No attempt at dissimulation. In hockey it's called "a good penalty." He still gave his team only a one-in-10 chance at survival. It was Ghana's game to lose, and they lost it fair and square.

    As for the diving -- yeah, you're dead right. It was pathetic. With dozens of HD cameras trained on every play, there's no excuse for letting players act their way to victory any more. You can't review every call during play, but every carding should be subject to instant review. Or, at a minimum, give each coach a set number of allowable challenges. Scrutilize the video after every game, and give any player who drew a penalty by diving a one-game suspension.

    Goalline video replays should be automatic, of course. Even Blatter realizes that battle is now lost.


    I'm not sure on Suarez. I think it's dangerous for sports to lose all sense of honour, fair play, the stuff we've almost come to mock. Hockey, for instance, can very quickly become unplayable, without the invisible "honour code" stuff. There are literally 101 ways to permanently injure a guy on ice - butt-ends, running into the boards, high stick back of neck, kicking, shooting the puck at people, fighting continued onto the ice, etc. And the rules will only ever be able to partially catch and control this stuff. Unsurprisingly then, hockey has a very detailed, very sense, "code," around how one should - must - play.

    Soccer is in trouble on this, however. The fact that Suarez was carried off on his teams' shoulders - that's a bad bad sign. NO shame at all. None. And then he became a hero, and was proudly blowing his horn about it. I thought it was awful. See, Ghana had won - a last second shot, literally crossing through the empty air, into the net, no goalie in sight, no chance to recover. Ghana would win. But because of a failure of the rules to be complex enough to handle this situation, a deliberate handball offered Uruguay a second chance. It was a failing of the rules - penalties are supposed to match the opportunity taken away by an illegal move. The equivalent would have been for Ghana to get a penalty shot, from 1 foot away, with no goalie.

    And therein, my real problem with soccer these days. The nature of a game usually won by 1 goal is that it places enormous weight on referees judgments. And right now, soccer has decided its penalties must be either appallingly light... or absolutely backbreaking (penalty shots, sendings off.) It therefore makes penalty shots and sendings off THE most important pat of the game, and every player is incented to appeal, lie, trick, the referee. The game circles around him, not the ball.

    But soccer refuses to make its rules broader, or deeper, or more nuanced. And it refuses to open up the game so that we see more goals. Therefore, more and more of the "game" actually becomes... bending the rules, and lying to the refs. Suarez is just an extreme version. 1001 players have actually been in that position, oddly enough. It happens all the time. And what do the players usually do? They try to head the ball away. And fail. And stand there looking noble, losing, but having played it right. We actually saw a number of other cases, in the World Cup, of players failing to head the ball off the line. ALL of them will now think - if it's late in the game, I should play it with my hands.

    And the rot will get worse.

    Good points, quinn. The rules are definitely flawed when gaming the ref becomes more advantageous than propelling the ball toward your opponent's goal.

    I'd also like to see higher scores (at the very least, some scores). The solution could be to make the net bigger. Say, the entire width of the field. It would make corner kicks way more exciting.

    In passing, I've long argued that the awarding of a penalty shot in hockey should not nullify the underlying penalty. If the puck goes in, fine -- penalty's over. If not, however, the offending team still has to play shorthanded.

    bending the rules, and lying to the refs

    I believe that's what FIFA calls the "purity of the game."

    Brilliant comment that sums up the core problem better than I've seen anyone else do.

    Those ideas would never work. They're too sane.

    Latest Comments