Reuters

COMMENT: Diving threatens to ruin game

COMMENT: Diving threatens to ruin game
By Eurosport

06/07/2006 at 08:46Updated

Portugal made their exit from the tournament on Wednesday with their reputation as the 'Brazil of Europe' in serious jeopardy, after another display of cynical football that can only drag the game further away from the ideals that lie at its roots.

Portugal undoubtedly tick all the above boxes, and with players with the skills of Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo, the hard work of Ricardo Carvalho and Costinha, and a sense of team-work instilled by a coach of the quality of Luiz Felipe Scolari, they have more than what is required to play the beautiful game.

But when that is soured by such a blatant display of over-the-top simulation, as witnessed in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night, it is difficult to lose the sour taste left in the mouth.

PRICKLY RECEPTION FOR RONALDO

To the neutral, that seemed a touch unfair, especially since only England fans really had a reason to feel aggrieved at the player, after his role in the Wayne Rooney quarter-final affair.

Ronaldo had a chance to set the record straight and show the world exactly what he can do.

How he wasted it.

DISGRACEFUL DIVING

But he was not alone. On the contrary, he was more than ably backed up by a series of Olympic sized dives from team-mates Pauleta and Helder Postiga.

"We were all disappointed," said Eurosport Expert Eye Graeme Le Saux. "Every time the Portuguese came into the box, basically the slightest touch, even feeling an arm on their back, they would throw themselves down and I'm surprised the referee didn't make a couple of bookings for feigning fouls."

Players like Ronaldo should be delighting crowds with their silky skills, not infuriating them with their antics.

FURTHER DAMAGE TO REPUTATION

Every time one of his players took a tumble, Scolari was the first off the bench to give his views to any official who would listen to his protestations, no matter how blatant the dive.

And at the final whistle, the Brazilian expressed his dissatisfaction at how the game had been officiated, berating the Uruguayan referee before eventually having to be dragged away. FIFA charges are sure to follow.

Should he wish to review the game in the comfort of his own home at a later date, Scolari will hopefully be able to see the error of his ways, as invariably television replays showed his players hitting the turf with no apparent contact from French players.

But the problem is that it is not just Portugal who employ tactics such as diving, or the deplorable habit of brandishing imaginary cards to referees.

These dark arts are spreading like a disease across the football globe, and unless the powers-that-be install some tough measure to deter players from cheating, the game is in danger of losing its soul.

And with it, all that we love about the game.

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