When is a dive a dive?

One of my favorite things about writing this blog is that I learn so much about the game. From my readers, from the football pundits, the football writers, old heads like Arseblog, it seems like every day I get a fresh perspective and I love it. I soak it in, steep in it for a few days and then I change my mind, or maybe I don’t change my mind and stick to my guns. I guess in a sense, I’m like an infant and my footballing mind is like a sponge. Yes, you can chalk that up to the fact that I’ve only been around the game for 10 years or so and yes, I get a lot of stick for that, but who cares? I love learning about the game and about Arsenal.

Today, I got a wholly* different perspective on diving, simulation, and all things cheating from some guys who know a whole lot more about football than me. Plus, I get a whole different way of looking at football chants and free speech.

So, from them, to me, to you…

Did Eduardo dive?

Patrick Barclay describes the furor in the U.K. resulting from Eduardo’s supposed dive as a “hysteria.” From what I can tell, us Americans, not to be outdone by our British cousins, have taken this hysteria and turned it into evangelism. I’ve had many a United fan on this blog, and of course in person, describe how revolted they were by this scourge of cheating and how this needs to be “stamped out” of the marble halls of football.

I understand why us American football fans are like that. We hear it constantly from the throwball contingent that “the one thing they can’t stand is seeing grown men rolling around on the ground” and that’s why they won’t watch “soccer.” They have no problem with grown men obviously using steroids but GOD DAMN DEM SOCCER FAGS!

So, I suppose it makes sense that the most vociferous and evangelical football fans are Americans, who also happen to support Man U (in my experience). I think they are laboring under the delusion that their sport will be more holy and therefore more acceptable to other Americans if only they could expiate the sin of “diving.”

Those damn holy rollers they do love a good witch-hunt.

But what if Eduardo didn’t dive? There are a lot of folks out there, knowledgeable folks, who think that Dudu didn’t dive. Patrick Barclay is one of them and his statements in response to the people who wrote into him about Monday’s column are priceless.

It wasn’t a clear dive at all. While waiting to go on the Sky television programme The Sunday Supplement at the weekend, I was shown different angles of the incident and you could see that there was contact with Boruc.

Not only that. I was in the company of three other journalists and we all agreed that the evidence contrasted with all the hysteria after the match. It’s not often you get four football writers to agree! The producer was of the same opinion.

So, Patrick Barclay joins Arsene Wenger and a small chorus of other old school football fans and says “there was contact, it is a penalty, no yellow, no retroactive ban.” These are people who have lifetimes of footballing experience, while some of us Americans have been watching this sport for just a few years, so who would you rather have preaching the gospel?

I’m sure I’ll disagree with him later on, but for now, I consider him the high priest of diving and that column to be the bible on how to speak to the know-nothings and holy rollers who want to cram their new religion down our throats. Read it, read it again, and then get back to me on whether Eduardo dived and what his punishment should be.

2 matches for diving, 3 matches for going ape shit


Even if we accept that Eduardo dived, and that we can get into his mind and say that he did it on purpose, one of the things that I have found puzzling is the arbitrary nature of the punishment levied in this case. How is it that a yellow card offense, one that would net a punishment ranging from shame to a 1 match ban (if it was a second yellow) is suddenly worth two matches? That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

It must not make any sense to UEFA either, because they have not yet explained the logic. It’s the same ban that Bosingwa merited for calling Tom Henning Ovrebo a thief! It’s one match less than Drogba got for an internationally broadcast display of what was, in essence, football hooliganism. How does that make sense?

Now, I don’t want to get into the cluttered mind of Michel Platini, but I think that what’s going on here is that they see Eduardo’s “dive” as equivalent to what happened with Dida when AC Milan played against Celtic. Or maybe they see it as worse, somehow, than the £5,000 fine that FIFA levied against Rivaldo for his disgraceful actions. I don’t know but I eagerly await the report from UEFA because this makes no sense.

Was it worth it?


IF, as Celtic fans would like to have you believe, it was a dive AND it was a game changing dive despite the fact that Celtic has managed only one shot on goal in the previous 120 minutes and needed 3 — THREE — goals to go on to the next stage THEN yes it was absolutely worth it. Because what was at stake here was millions of pounds in revenue from the Champions League group stages.

Which is why if you’re serious about getting rid of cheating then it’s important to get the call right during the match and not after. Which can only be accomplished by using video replay.

Sorry, but if we all get to sit around and watch endless replays of the action, and armchair referee every match, why can’t the officials actually officiate matches in real time? After all, a lot of money is at stake, accuracy is at stake, and the reputation of football is at stake.

And don’t give me this crap about replays slowing down the action. I bet if I took a stopwatch to the average match there would be something like 60 minutes of action total. And if I took a stopwatch to the average Bolton match that total would be something like 15 minutes.

What’s the sound of one dipshit singing?

I love football chants. I love that a whole crowd of 60,000 people can sing in unison “We love you Arsenal, we do.” Chants inspire the players, chants make for a great crowd atmosphere, chants show that you belong to the in-group, in short, I love chants.

I also love being an Arsenal supporter because by and large we stay out of the ugly side of chants. Racist chants and chants that celebrate the dead of our opponents are not really a mainstay of Arsenal fandom. Maybe they were at one time, but my understanding is that Arsenal are now one of the most proactive clubs when it comes to wiping out ugly chants from our stands.

So when I see an American Man U supporter singing or writing one of their filthy chants about Wenger or one of their disgraceful chants about Liverpool, I don’t think it’s cute, or cheeky, or that it makes them part of the in crowd. I just think you are a dipshit.

That’s about as far as I normally go in this matter, basically, there are dipshits all over the world and clubs and the police should do a better job of keeping the number of dipshits to a minimum.

That said, there’s a particular chant about Arsene Wenger which calls him a pedophile and that chant was in full throat last weekend when Arsenal played Man U. After the match, intrepid bloggers discovered that a disk containing the chant was being sold on Play.com and Amazon.com.  Play.com took the disk down but Amazon so far has steadfastly refused, hiding behind “free speech.” I’m not a lawyer, but I’m fairly certain that if I penned an article that called Wenger a pedophile I would be in real trouble so how a recording of several folks chanting that charge is acceptable, I don’t know.

Like I said, I am not a lawyer.

What I do know is that there at the bottom of that link I provided is a contact form. I have submitted a complaint using that form which voices my displeasure at the fact that they are carrying this product. That, plus writing this little bit, is about as far as I can go with this. It’s now up to Amazon, Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, the Press, the Greater Manchester Police, and the fans to do something about it.

The ball’s in their half.

*yes, that’s a pun, it’s like a pre-pun.


  1. At the risk of boring repetition

    DUDU DIDN’T DIVE!!!! Dohfuc, or whatever the goalkeeper’s called went in with intent and caught Dudu, Dudu was unbalanced and virtually went over the ball. Not like Rooney who went down first then fell over Almunia.

    In the whole sequence I see no evidence that Dudu was looking for a penalty, or even expected one. So where is the intent to deceive. Four officials saw it and none contradicted the refs decision.

    It is wrong to suggest that Platini has a mind full of anything. It is abundantly clear there is nothing inside, certainly nothing that works.

    As to the chanting, the CD and Amazon, looks like criminal defamation, both slander and libel, Amazon, the publishing company and the chanters are all equally guilty, and could find themselves on the wrong end of legal action. For my part, I would seek an injunction to close Amazon until they withdrew the offending item, and demand huge punitive damages.

    Chelski banned from buying any players for two transfer windows!! Surprised someone hasn’t tried to apply that one to us. Perhaps FIFA will do the same to Barca for continually tapping up Cesc, through the media!!

    Just think, when Chelski can recruit again, many of their players will be pensionable.


  2. Very Good piece, Tim. UEFA has shot themselves in the foot wit this one. Arsenal has officially decided to appeal the ban. Croatia FA are not happy that their player & citizen is being singled out as a cheat. The match referee has stuck by his decision that he saw it as a penalty not a dive. So we await what happens further.

    The Guardian today wrote about the chant to bring it out in the open and request that something be done about it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/sep/03/arsene-wenger-chant-arsenal

    But Cheer up guys, FIFA has done a UEFA on Chelsea.

    Chelsea have been fined and banned by FIFA from any new signings for two (2) Transfer Windows, i.e, until January 2011, for tapping up Gael Kakuta from Lens in 2007.

    1. @LRV, That really is so great. To think not being able to cover all the players going to the ANC, and Ballack is a broken hip away from a wheel chair, Maybe Chelsea wont have as good of a season as the media thought.

    2. @LRV, I loved the comment I read that said if you’re black, French and Wenger has not bought you then you’re not that good.

  3. I have sent this to Amazon it may be worthy of further investigation, all the best Toby:

    Manchester united chants, number 5; ‘Sit down’ by Fat Willy:
    As an Amazon user of long standing and a true believer in freedom of speech, i find your published explanation for the continued sale of the above mentioned unacceptable. The main reason being that this has nothing to do with freedom of speech but is in fact “Hate speech” which contravenes the criminal justice and immigration act 2008 amended part 3a of the public order act 1986. That is also assuming Mr Arsene Wenger is a paedophile.
    Please respond asap

  4. Manchester united chants, number 5; ‘Sit down’ by Fat Willy:
    As an Amazon user of long standing and a true believer in freedom of speech, i find your published explanation for the continued sale of the above mentioned unacceptable. The main reason being that this has nothing to do with freedom of speech but is in fact “Hate speech” which contravenes the criminal justice and immigration act 2008 amended part 3a of the public order act 1986. That is also assuming Mr Arsene Wenger is a paedophile.
    Please respond asap

  5. So we’re appealing. Excellent. Trouble is, an appeal presupposes UEFA are rational beings with some sort of integrity, as opposed to a bunch of chest-thumping nitwits swayed by, among other things, the media witch-hunt. I can’t see them backing down – they hate losing face; more likely the ban will be doubled. Oh well, it’s the principle that’s important, I guess.

    1. Contrary to popular belief, UEFA, or FIFA for that matter, are not sacrosanct. If they muddle the appeal, there is abitration court for sports. I think once they know that the club is willing to go the whole hog, they will consider their actions carefully. Do you remember how the Bosman Rule came about?

  6. Thanks for the link to the Guardian article. Interesting. I hadn’t known that Arsenal fans had protested about the anti-Semitic chants. Good for them, and nice to belong a bunch of supporters with the guts to do something for once.

  7. The only thing i wonder is after all this time from the dive, why are some media experts coming out now and talking about it. Where were they when the Scottish FA were yelling about it like they were Braveheart?

    I like that some people are actually agreeing that it wasn’t a dive but if they came out sooner than the witchhunt might not have been so strong and UEFA wouldn’t have banned him.

  8. I originally thought it was a dive but if there is video showing contact ( and Wenger has it) and that’s what the referee saw then UEFA may have to do some tap dancing when they answer Arsenal’s appeal. That’s why I want UEFA decisions to be transparent. Now things are about to get interesting. UEFA certainly moved to impose the ban quick enough but will they respond to our appeal before 9/16 is the bigger question. Putzes.

    Poor old Chelsea got caught once again doing something illegal. A 2 transfer period ban is a brilliant punishment for a team of aging players. It’s also an indelible stain on a club that is most deserving of such. Some may remember how Chelsea’s Frank Arnesen stole 3 player from Leeds under the cover of night and were duly penalized. 2/3 players (Woods, Taiwo) did wind up w/ Chelsea but the 3rd stayed w/ Leeds. Let’s not forget the John Obi Mikel fiasco for which Anderson should be eternally grateful for. If Mikel was still at Man U then Anderson would still be in Portugal instead of riding the bench at Man U for acting like a child.

    For those who would cite Fran Merida’s move from Barcelona, it is not the same thing. Nice try.

    Capello pimping our training academy as the standard for English clubs to follow if England are to produce talent for the national team. Do England and the British media ‘deserve’ the fruits of our academy after all the abuse Wenger has been subjected to?

    Congratulations to ‘Tim’s’ Seattle Sounders’ Lamar Hunt Open Championship over DC United. Sounders were led by 2 ex-Arsenal players Zackuani and Lungjberg were all over DC United like flies on doo-doo. DC United goalie Wicks gets a straight red for stomping on Montero after he scores the first goal. Wicks reminded me Boruc’s protesting that he didn’t bring down Eduardo.

  9. Forbes.com lists Arsenal as the 3rd most valuable club in the world. For anyone to buy the club outright, they have to find $1.2B. Only Man U & Real Madrid have more sale value at $1.87B & $1.353B respectively. Figures calculated April 2009.

  10. Rooney denies he’s a cheat then excuses himself from the interview, as he’s late for confession.

  11. Strangely enough, I wish we weren’t appealing the ban. I know we’re in the right, but right now we’ve gone from being the perpetrators (as of a week ago) to the victims, and that can help with refereeing decisions and those of the powers that be. Suffice to say that if the appeal succeeds, UEFA will be waiting to bring the hammer down at a later point.

    On the chant, it is hideous – I’m waiting for replies to two carefully worded emails (proof read and amended by my solicitor wife!), one to the FA, one to United. Should be interesting.

    But while I think Amazon are being exceptionally weak hiding behind a legal argument when this issue is one of morality more than legality, from a strictly legal point of view the CD is fine as there is no named target of the abuse. Of course we all know it is sung at Wenger, and therefore singing it at a ground has that context, but on a CD the context is stripped away (legally speaking, anyway), and they have no obligation to remove it,

    That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, of course.

  12. Now it’s Man U (another of the EPL’s top 4) in FIFA’s hot seat as Le Harve is threatening to report them for ‘stealing’ 16yo Pogba. Man U already mounting a vigorous PR offensive. Stay tuned.

  13. Richard Dunne says he was told to leave and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. 9 yrs. The talisman of Man City not SWP who left for the money but had to come back w/ his tail between his legs. We’ve got Toure and Lescott and you can’t stay and fight for your place because we need the money. I know it’s a business but that is some cold sh*t.

    Now comes classless Lescott wanting to be the new Dunne: http://www.goal.com/en/news/9/england/2009/09/03/1479150/i-want-to-be-the-new-richard-dunne-at-manchester-city-joleon


  14. You know what pisses me off the most. I went and watched the game at the pub on the weekend, and the cunting United fans were going on and on about Dudu being a diver. WTF! They have Owen and Rooney and they used to have Ronaldo, the biggest diving cunts in the modern game.

    I was well fuming at that.

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