Cheating more than a game

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben

BASED on SBS soccer expert Craig Foster's indisputable logic that if Australia had fielded opponent Spain's players it would have won their final World Cup group match, Kevin Rudd has questioned the last federal election result.

He rightly points out that had Labor received all the votes that were cast for the Liberals, he would still be Prime Minister.

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna believes if his Suns had fielded Jarryd Roughead, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and a few others alongside Gary Ablett in Launceston on Saturday, they would have won at a canter.

And back at the World Cup, Germany has also lodged a protest. Chancellor Angela Merkel said if her country had received the support America gave the Allies, it would have won the Second World War.

Entering its third week, the World Cup continues to produce some wonderful entertainment, with Columbian wonderkid James Rodriguez probably coming closest to equalling the brilliance of Foster, who effortlessly puts the first four letters into analysis.

However, the showpiece of every AFL fan's least favourite alternative code also continues to produce truckloads of incriminating evidence for its detractors.

There is the tedious time-wasting of teams holding on to one-goal leads, the irritating habit of instructing the referee to issue yellow cards and my personal favourite, the unforgivable but unpunished reluctance of players to take corners from within the corner arc.

However, leading the case for the prosecution is the cheating.

When contemplating recruiting Professor Peach for the bank heist in  The Italian Job , Camp Freddie asks Mr Bridger, ``What if the professor's not bent?'' Mr Bridger, alias Noel Coward, replies: ``Camp Freddie, everybody in the world is bent.''

In a similar fashion, every soccer player in the world cheats.

Whenever a ball goes out, players from both sides appeal for the throw, 50 per cent of which usually know it came off them last; players ruthlessly hack down opponents then lambast the ref for rightly penalising them; and supremely gifted dribblers like Arjen Robben possess exquisite balance until the moment they enter the penalty area and then lose all ability to stay on their feet.

In yesterday's second-round tie, the Dutchman went down for the injury-time penalty that won the match, but later admitted to diving in an attempt to get an earlier spot-kick.

``In the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn't do that,'' he said. ``That was a stupid, stupid thing to do.''

Ten out of 10 for honesty, zero for sportsmanship.

Mexico's immaculately coiffured coach Miguel Herrera responded in predictable fashion by blaming referee Pedro Proenca (``He put us out of the World Cup''), even though the Portuguese official actually got both calls correct.

Through all this cynicism and deceit, there is hope.

Running the line in a recent Northern under-13 match, I awarded a throw-in to a team whose player immediately told me: ``That came off me last, it should be their throw-in.''

I reversed the decision, thanked the boy for his honesty and learned two lessons. The future of sport is safe while players like that are around, and I'm clearly a useless linesman.

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