Jake: ‘will VAR and punishment after the crime just make cheats better at cheating?’

Monsieur Salut: would I have taken survival last season, would I take survival this season, if it depended on a blatant act of cheating by a Sunderland player? Easy to say no when, in the heart, you might mean yes, maybe or depends. But I’ll stick to my guns and say no. And whatever individual fans feel about matters affecting their teams, football as a sport should rise above natural human instincts to win at whatever cost …

A realistic breath of fresh air or a deplorable attempt to defend the indefensible? That appears to be our choice as we assess the Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino’s efforts to shrug off diving as unimportant.

Salut! Sunderland has never sat on the fence. Diving is cheating. It should have no place in the game. Perpetrators ought to be boiled in oil or, if medieval punishments are out of fashion, suspended for three or more games. When a Sunderland player dives, as Dele Alil does so often for Spurs, we make no attempt to defend or excuse.
We ask opposing supporters for their views too, in our Who are You? interviews (it’s currently called the Niasse question, has been named after Eduardo and may now become the Dele Alli question). Overwhelmingly, they condemn the practice along with the other forms of cheating – shirt-pulling, wrestling at corners, rolling around in fake agony, waving imaginary cards – even if they are even more disgusted by brutal, often career-threatening foul play.

But Pochettino is quoted by the Mail and elsewhere as saying we really shouldn’t get so worked up about it.

‘Twenty years ago, 30 years ago, it was like “all congratulate the player when he tricks the referee”. In Argentina but in England too. You believe that in England you were honest and always perfect. That is the football that I was in love with when I was a child. Football is about trying to trick your opponent. Yes or no?

…The problem now is that we are so sensitive about the situation. And then we are so focused on Dele Alli’

The interview does get a little confused, with Pochettino admitting that his player’s yellow for diving against Liverpool was the correct decision. So cheating is both a “minimal detail” and wrong. Maybe it’s a question of language; I have virtually no Spanish but certainly in French, there is little or no difference between “tricking” and cheating.

But the weight of Pochettino’s remarks shows him to believe the fuss some of us make about diving is excessive.

With huge respect to one of the best managers in the land, that is not a remotely respectable argument. Cheating is contrary to the spirit of this or any other game that wants to be taken seriously and the quicker and more harder it is fought the better.

There are grey areas but VAR and properly constituted panels applying restrospective judgement should be able to identify clear cases of attempting, with or without success, to hoodwink referees and make a mockery of fair contest. And those cases, demonstrably watertight examples of sporting fraud, should be punished with lengthy bans, fines and, if necessary, points deductions.

The Spurs boss is certainly correct to point out that English players cheat just as much as the foreigners lazily blamed for importing the practice into the Premier and Football Leagues.

He was a victim 16 years ago when Michael Owen “won” a penalty for England in a World Cup game versus Argentina after going down under  a challenge by Pochettino which replays showed involved no contact.

But all’s fair in football, even when it’s self-evidently unfair, he seems to be saying. And my own fear, reinforced by his comments, is that players will try – with the encouragement and even coaching of their managers – to carry on cheating while doing their utmost to cheat more successfully.

You, of course, may disagree ….

Click on the image to take you back to the Salut! Sunderland home page

Tags: , , , ,

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

3 Responses to “Will the real Mauricio Pochettino stand up or feel ‘entitled to go down’?” Subscribe

  1. Bill February 7, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

    A three game ban is all well and good but I would prefer a points deduction. With a severe punishment such as this I would also introduce retrospective withdrawing of the yellow/red card if the match day officials get it wrong as they did recently when booking Asoro.

  2. wrinkly pete February 7, 2018 at 6:15 pm #

    Not a single word in your article do I disagree with. The shirt pulling is now so common it almost seems sanctioned but it spoils the game and my enjoyment. Why on earth would I accept it or any other form of cheating? We ALL need to back the attempts to stamp it out.

  3. malcolm February 7, 2018 at 11:36 pm #

    The main problem as I see it is that football is now no longer just a game. Maybe it never has been but the vast, obscene sums of money that are involved now, means that honesty and fair play are unimportant to the vast majority of owners, managers and players.

    TV deals, online betting, and personal greed has destroyed the game I loved and the insidious attitudes at the top seep their way down to lower levels.

    I can’t watch international cricket now without wondering which players might be getting a bung. I have less interest in sport now than I ever thought possible.

Leave a Reply

Branch Lines: calling all SAFCSA branches. Don’t miss your connection

Salut Banner4(featured image)

For those Sunderland supporters who take the trouble to visit these pages regularly, it will come as no surprise that […]

Branch Lines: Sunderland supporters in the Heart of England

Sunderland Supporters 1

Malcolm Dawson writes….back in 1997/98 despite living in the Midlands I made 43 Sunderland games over the course of the […]

Sunderland vs Rochdale prize Guess the Score. Keep Henderson quiet, Lads

Click on the image above, post your scoreline prediction and - whoever you support - you may win a prize

Hail the return of Guess the Score in prize format – Monsieur Salut is in a slightly better mood this […]

View from the North West Corner: Sunderland U23s v Norwich City U23s

View From

SAFC U23s 1 v Norwich City U23s 1 For some reason the Under 23s had elected to play their home […]

Sixer’s Sevens: Sunderland ailing at Burton Albion

Jake

Pete Sixsmith was looking forward to the weekend, not just because of the prospect of a decent game but also […]

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground: Burton Albion and the Pirelli Stadium

Salut Banner5(featured image)

John McCormick writes: I wondered how Pete Sixsmith would approach this one, given that it’s less than a year since […]