Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Daniel Brigham

Is Fer's honesty the best policy?

Recommended Posts

Hi all, here''s my latest blog on cheats, heroes and villains and why football has room for them all ...

There was an unusual outbreak of honesty among

Premier League players last weekend. It was both disarming and

life-affirming, like bankers suddenly admitting they’re all arseholes.  With

a charming grin our very own Leroy Fer admitted he had tugged Kenwyne

Jones’s shirt. Tottenham’s Andros Townsend owned up to diving against

Chelsea, said he deserved to be booked and, like someone telling their

partner they’ve got a porn addiction, proclaimed “I have got to kick it

out of my game.” Daniel Sturridge was asked if Liverpool’s failure to

score in the second half of games this season had been a big talking

point among this team-mates and, unusually for a Premier League

footballer, he was honest enough to say it had been (shortly before his

manager Brendan Rogers said the problem had never been discussed.

Managers, eh?).While Fernando Torres’s angry cat impression gave

succor to those who like to damn football for its vulgarity and

gamesmanship, there were three incidents that gave the opposing view and

showed the sport in an honourable light. It was footballing yin and

yang, a weekend that perfectly demonstrated why we love the sport. Like

soap operas and reality TV, sport shows the human condition under a

distorted microscope, where every fault is heightened to the extreme. It

makes us forget the simple human fact that some people don’t like to

cheat, some do but most are somewhere in the middle, where they don’t

know which way they’ll go in a particular situation. One day they may

choose one path, the next day they may choose the opposite path.To

cheat or not to cheat is often a decision made in a heartbeat. Do I

lie? Do I use the last of a colleague’s milk from the fridge? Do I tug

this player’s shirt? The brain is like Jim from The Vicar of Dibley:

no, no, no, no, YES. It’s impulsive. When Luis Suarez scored with his

hand against Mansfield in the FA Cup last season even the Mansfield

manager Paul Cox said it was “instinctive”. Suarez’s brain had told him:

yes. On the flipside, just four months earlier in September

2012 Germany’s Miroslav Klose used his hand to score from a corner for

Lazio against Napoli. The referee gave the goal but the Napoli players

were incensed (conveniently forgetting about club legend Maradona’s

attitude to handballs). Klose, after a halfarse celebration, called the

ref over, owned up and the goal was disallowed. Klose’s brain had told

him yes. But then, when his own code of ethics caught up, it had told

him no. The Napoli players went from wanting to kill Klose to fawning

over him in a vaguely creepy way, like they’d just witnessed an act of

God. Team-mates even have different interpretations of cheating

and honesty. Famously, when Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler was awarded a

penalty in a top-of-the-table match against Arsenal in 1997 he told the

referee there had been no contact from Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman

and that it shouldn’t be a penalty. Fowler’s admission failed to change

the ref’s mind so Fowler took a weak penalty (why didn’t he just put it

wide?). Unfortunately it bounced off Seaman and Jason McAteer, who

obviously didn’t hold the same views on fair play as Fowler, smashed in

the rebound. In the commentary box Andy Gray said that “Fowler’s manager

should give him a clip around the ear.” Such disparity is also

shared in other sports. In snooker and golf players often admits

infringements; other players don’t. When Australia cricketer Adam

Gilchrist walked off after edging behind at the 1999 World Cup

semi-final, he did so despite being given not out by the umpire. While

his actions were honest and lauded by many, several of his team-mates

were furious, believing he could have cost them a place in the final. So if even team-mates can’t decide when to be scurrilous and when to be honest, why should we get so pious over it?It

comes back to sport reflecting human behaviour, and it does this in

front of hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of people. It forces a

24-hour media and public to instantly assume a hyper-sensitive position

based on rabid emotion rather than considered thought. The

immediacy of this inevitably leads to players being labelled disgraceful

cheats because 24-hour news loves a label; it’s so much easier than

having to spend tedious time debating and thinking about the rights and

wrongs of situations. In reality these disgraceful cheats are just doing

in their sport what millions of us do every day in our work

environment: pushing the boundaries, cutting corners, arguing, cheating.

Using the last of a colleague’s milk from the fridge. Sport

provides such drama precisely because it finds room for contrasting

characters and personalities. After all, where would football be without

Maradona and where would it be without Bobby Moore? One brilliantly

devilish, the other brilliantly saintly, both unique gifts to football.

World-class players like Maradona who are considered cheats or bad boys

have often broadened football’s horizons and enriched its appeal as much

as players known for their dignity and sense of fair play. Dashing

heroes and dastardly villains are crucial to any great story. We should

celebrate football for providing both in their droves.Daniel Brigham is features editor of The Cricketer.You can follow him on Twitter: @cricketer_dan

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
He should have kept stum imo, refs will be harsher on him from now on.[:S]

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think you hit the nail on the head with the heat of the moment thing of no, no, no, no, YES!

In general game play I don''t cheat, I am always honest about last contact when the ball goes out etc, but I know for a fact if I were in the cup final and I had the option to handball and the team have to take a penalty (a la Suarez in the World Cup ((albeit not final)) I would do it in a heartbeat. I wouldn''t set out in the game thinking I would do it, I just know in my heart that if it came down to it, I would.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Howson is now - in total agreement, I''d do the same. It wasn''t the handball that irked people so much about Suarez at the World Cup, it was his celebrations from the touchline when the penalty was missed.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
But that was exactly why he did it. In the hope that they would miss the penalty. Agree his celebrations were foolish (so much about that man is) and that he should have gone down the tunnel or something and then gone crazy.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...