In a way, I’m not surprised at this turn of events. In another way, I feel it’s symptomatic of what is wrong with the game of football today from a player’s perspective.
From a psychological point of view, it’s a reality because the children watching soccer games are, themselves, going out on a Saturday and Sunday, and perhaps during the week, and emulating their superstar heroes.
I regularly see children as young as 10 falling easily after being slightly touched by an opponent. They see their idols do the same on television and perhaps doing it “live” at the ground and then getting up to the most ridiculous shenanigans. So I guess it’s only natural that they will do likewise.
When I read of this particular case, I was shocked but not entirely surprised. This young boy was disgruntled after being admonished by a woman referee and showed his displeasure by dropping his shorts and exposing himself to her.
The ultimate insult I would suggest, and particularly to a woman referee.
The big question is why did he do it? Where did he learn that this would somehow come across as an insult to the referee? Was it bravado on his part and was he encouraged to do it? Was it a bet? Was it pre-planned? So many questions.
Now, I haven’t heard of any top-flight players behaving in such a crude and rude manner, but it surely has its origins somewhere, or did he just think at the time that this was the thing to do?
The big money earners of world football have an enormous responsibility to behave in a way that is a good example to their hordes of followers, particularly the young ones.
Are they doing it? Absolutely not.
The main problem as I see it is that football today is no longer a sport. It’s a business and a very lucrative one in some instances, as well as a very expensive one in other cases.
One goal can win a game and perhaps a major championship. That same goal, or lack of it, can also mean a team being relegated with the loss of thousands and perhaps millions in revenue from gate takings and sponsorship deals.
Recently, there was the play-off in England for promotion to the English Premier League from the second tier.
The estimated benefit to the winning team (Aston Villa) was reckoned to be about £170 million (R3.2 billion). That is a huge amount of money, and it’s no surprise that some players will go to whatever lengths to achieve that all important victory.
On another note, the penalty awarded to Liverpool after about 20 seconds of the first half of the Uefa Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday was the correct decision in my opinion. There was much debate and discussion about it, but I thought Slovenian referee Damir Skomina was 100% correct.
The law says (I’m paraphrasing) that a player cannot make himself “bigger” by an extension of his arm, and that’s what happened in this instance.
It was a brave decision, as some have said, but, in my opinion, it was the correct decision and I wish more referees would act as courageously as Skomina regardless of who is playing or the importance of the game.
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