first_imgJamie Vardy Topics Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Facebook Presumably, everyone is up to speed by now about the reassuring news from Uefa, permanently trying to find different ways of curing football’s ills, that it has launched disciplinary action against Besiktas because of the pitch invader that briefly interrupted the club’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.Even by Uefa’s standards, it’s a belter of a story given that it was actually a ginger cat who had wandered in off the streets to investigate what all these silly humans were up to. Unfortunately for Besiktas, nobody at Uefa appears to be aware that cats, as a general rule, do as they please, rather than what they are told. Nor is it particularly easy to understand what Besiktas should have done to avoid the charge of “insufficient organisation”. I mean, how does one organise the pussycat community of Istanbul these days? Should a saucer of milk and tin of Whiskas be kept by the dugout just in case? And, all silliness aside, could Uefa really not have taken the lead from Bayern – whose supporters voted the feline as their man of the match – rather than directing a moment of harmless fun towards its sanctions department. The case will be heard on 31 May and, knowing what we do about Uefa’s disciplinary tariff, don’t rule anything out – who could really be shocked if a stray kitty ends up costing Besiktas more in fines than a Nazi salute or racist chant would?It was interesting, though, that there was nothing from Uefa about what happened the following night when Arsenal played Milan in the Europa League and the latest evidence that maybe it was time for the people in charge of these affairs to reassess their priorities.A few paw prints on the pitch at Besiktas certainly seemed less offensive to me than the sight, once again, of a professional footballer duping the officials into awarding a penalty and it is strange, to say the least, that Uefa doesn’t employ the same rule as the Football Association, whereby the relevant player would now be banned for two games. There is an option to take retrospective action if the referee or match delegate raised the matter. Plainly, they didn’t – and I doubt Danny Welbeck, the player in question, will care too greatly that the headline in Corriere della Sera was “Affondati da un tuffo” – “Sunk by a dive” – or that Enrico Currò, the correspondent for La Repubblica, described it as a moment Italy’s most famous high-board diver, Tania Cagnotto, would have been proud of. Pinterest Pinterest For the hard evidence, just look through the list of players Gareth Southgate has called up for England’s forthcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy and tot up the ones who have previous for these kind of deceptions.All four of the players listed as forwards, just for starters. Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy have made an art form of initiating contact with the defender and then going down in the penalty area. Marcus Rashford’s dive to win a penalty against Swansea last season was one of the reasons why the FA beefed up its rules. Welbeck has just proved Arsène Wenger’s point about English players taking over as the “masters” of diving – if you remember the penalty Welbeck won against Wigan at Old Trafford in September 2012 you might argue this is nothing new.When it comes to the midfielders, it is not just Dele Alli who appears to consider thespianism just an extension of all his other talent. Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson have both been booked for diving, and in the kind of games when it is bemusing to think they felt it necessary to try it on – Lingard in a Europa League tie against Midtjylland and Henderson in a League Cup tie against Exeter.Alli is, however, the worst of the lot by some distance: a serial offender who has been booked three times for diving since his Premier League debut in August 2015, as well as getting away with the same kind of offence more times than he will probably want us to remember. He cheats. He will do it again, soon probably, because he doesn’t learn from it and doesn’t seem to care too greatly that he is now thought of in this regard as even more prolific than Ashley Young – a player Roberto Mancini once referred to by leaning forward in his chair, putting his hands together and stooping his head in the manner of another Tania Cagnotto. A cat jumps on to an advertisement board during Besiktas’s Champions League game with Bayern Munich. Photograph: Sedat Suna/EPA Share on Messenger Share on LinkedIn Not that the Italian media are demanding Welbeck is put in stocks outside the Duomo. One newspaper’s description of Welbeck as “cunning as a weasel for pinching a penalty that never was” comes across as praise rather than condemnation and Corriere dello Sport actually made him man of the match, acknowledging his movement, his two goals and the way he won, then scored, the penalty that turned the game heavily in Arsenal’s favour. It’s a different culture, far more conditioned to players who dive, but that doesn’t mean to say English football can be arrogant enough to give itself a pat on the back. I still see no English player as unsteady on his feet as, say, Diego Costa or Didier Drogba. But the gap is closing and it is starting to feel like a close-run thing. Danny Welbeck Share on Twitter Read more Arsène Wenger claims English players are now the ‘masters’ of diving Read more Uefa Raheem Sterling Mauricio Pochettino says Dele Alli dive was simple case of football trickery Arsenal Champions League If you are wondering how many that leaves with a clean slate from the list of England strikers or attacking midfielders, the answer is three: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Jack Wilshere. Or four, perhaps, if Harry Kane was fit and given the benefit of the doubt. Daniel Sturridge? His only booking in the last four years for Liverpool was for – you’ve guessed it – a dive. You might also remember the little piece of mid-air sorcery to conjure up a penalty at Manchester United in 2014. “Such a good dive,” as Luis Suárez later wrote in his autobiography, full of admiration. “When I saw the replay, I realised that Daniel was about a metre away from [Nemanja] Vidic. I said to Daniel later: ‘Can you imagine what would have happened if that would have been me?’ He said: ‘I felt him touching me,’ and started laughing.” Not just cheating, but virtually high-fiving about how clever it was. Suárez and Sturridge didn’t always get on – but in this moment they sounded like blood brothers. Share via Email Sportblog Facebook Tottenham’s Dele Alli takes a dive over Wayne Hennessey of Crystal Palace. Photograph: John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Gety Images Dele Alli Twitter Twitter The difficult part is knowing what to do about it now it is such an unshakeable part of football life. The new FA rules have changed little and it didn’t need Uefa’s inaction after the Arsenal-Milan tie – a game, incidentally, when a Milan player, Suso, was booked for diving – for one to suspect European football’s governing body still doesn’t understand why so many people find it a turnoff.One idea is that if Premier League managers were fined a certain amount – £15,000, for example – every time it happened they would quickly make sure the players got the message. But that kind of money is still chickenfeed for today’s multimillionaires and it would be much fairer, surely, to punish the players themselves. Each player caught diving should get one strike, to act as a warning. But I like the idea that if somebody does the same again, and gets another booking in the process, that player should serve an automatic two-match ban. If it happens a third time, it goes up to three matches. And so on – with all offences counted over the previous three seasons.Uefa could introduce something similar if it were not too preoccupied with the issues caused by Istanbul’s stray kitty community. Except Uefa has promised before to tackle diving in football but never kept to its word. “Uefa is prepared to crack down on what it considers as the intentional cheating of referees and opponents, by suspending ‘simulators’ for gross unsporting conduct if evidence such as TV video footage shows that a player has intentionally duped a referee by, for example, diving in the opposition penalty area,” the press release announced in November 2004. “It is important that Uefa sends a message on simulation out to players,” Peter Limacher, Uefa’s disciplinary services manager, added. “They must know that if they are going to cheat, they will face disciplinary proceedings.” All of which raises one obvious question: how did that one go? Share on WhatsApp comment Reuse this contentlast_img

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