Ok, now this is really pissing me off to no end.
My regular reader knows that I don’t really watch internationals: I don’t care about some old line drawn in the sand where the people on one side are “perfect” and the people on the other are “cunts” and I don’t care for the inevitable racism and xenophobia that make up no small part of Nationalism Football. That’s right, let’s call it what it is; it’s not international football because with very few exceptions most national teams won’t take players from another country. No, this occasional break from real football so that national clubs can play each other has nothing to do with internationalism, this is Nationalism Football. And after reading this morning’s bleatings by the Brit press about what a horrible diver Eduardo is despite the fact that he’s not, while simultaneously saying that proven serial diver Rooney should not be labeled a diver because it might effect the referees, and how the referee for Wednesday’s match is already “drowning”, I’m actually pissed off enough to root for a national team: Croatia.
Take a look at this screen cap from the first link above. Ostensibly, it’s a story about how Croatia and Eduardo are united and mentally prepared for Wednesday’s match. But the subtext is glaring “EDUARDO IS A DIVER, BOO HIM THE WHOLE TIME, GO ENGERLAND.”
Look at the image they used and look at the caption. Michael Carrick had, up to that point, pretty much tried to break everyone’s ankles on the pitch and nearly succeeded on Denilson. But here they show Carrick, barely in frame, and Eduardo looking like he’s about to do a triple-gainer.We can’t see Carrick’s feet, we don’t know what call the referee made, we don’t know anything about this picture except what our friend Jeremy Wilson has told us to think about this picture.
It’s important that they used the Carrick tackle here, because had they used one of Darren Fletcher’s numerous yellow card fouls it wouldn’t have been as effective: Carrick is English, Fletcher is only British.
How better to whip up the English fans into a frenzy than take a totally decontextualized photograph, and then put some text on it that says “Eduardo caught in the act” and then claim that Carrick was quote un-quote tackling? Frankly, if a CD which contains the chant “Sit down you pedophile” is slander in England, how is it that this image and this story, which is a pretty obvious attempt to slur Eduardo’s reputation ahead of the England Croatia match, isn’t being pulled for slander? This is exactly what Arsene Wenger was worried would happen now that UEFA has unfairly singled Eduardo out. What I’m also afraid of is that no matter how this 2 match ban plays out, pieces like this mean that Eduardo will never receive fair treatment in any match from here on out. Well, maybe if he lets ANOTHER English player break his legs he’ll start to get some fair treatment.
But why stop with Eduardo? Why not have a go at the referee? The Telegraph again obliges, calling him “inexperienced,” “rarely hesitant in waving his cards” and quoting another source that the referee was so out of his depth that he was “drowning” in a contentious match between Juve and Chelsea. My favorite quote though, the one that’s supposed to really hammer home that this referee doesn’t know what he’s doing is this “awarding Juventus a penalty so contentious it triggered a 15-man mêlée.” A 15 man melee in a Chelsea match? That’s about as rare as air molecules. It’s perfect to warn fans ahead of the match that referee is shite, that way they can boo him too when he gives Lampard a yellow card for an ankle-breaking tackle on Eduardo.
But bringing it all home is England’s finest ever referee and new-found blogger extraordinaire, Graham “three yellow cards” Poll. He penned a great piece yesterday, warning of the dangers of calling players divers because calling a player a diver might influence a referee’s decision, which in turn might cause that player to get unfairly kicked all over the pitch.
Well, by “players” I mean, just Rooney, because Poll goes on to laud Drogba for staying on his feet this season, and openly accuses Eduardo of diving. See, what Graham Poll is worried about isn’t the truth or whether labeling a player like Eduardo a diver might adversely effect referee’s calls against him on Wednesday. No, he’s worried that all of us pointing out Rooney’s blatant dives — like this one against Arsenal which is universally accepted as a dive, or this one against Tottenham where he gets a yellow card for simulation (cheating), or this disgraceful cheating against Chelsea where he both dives AND pretends he was injured, or his coup de grace, the absolutely shameful Dida-like fakery against Blackburn Rovers — Poll is worried that all of us pointing to those examples of fakery might hurt England’s chances in the World Cup. Because Graham Poll, the guy who’s job it was to be professionally fair, suddenly doesn’t seem to give two fucks about fairness.
In the end, I’m not worried that Eduardo won’t be able to overcome this, he overcame Taylor breaking his leg and the year of rehab it took to get back into the game, but I am pissed off. I’m pissed off that because of this Nationalism Football week I’ve got to sit here and have an heroic Arsenal player get slagged off in the press. I’m pissed that this might effect Arsenal next week when we take on City because there will inevitably be a challenge that goes in on Eduardo and all of these slanderous news stories will, no doubt, be fresh on everyone’s mind and that because of this bullshit press Eduardo and Arsenal might not get a fair shake.
It’s time to end this slur against Eduardo and Arsenal and get back to playing real football.