Diving, embellishing, tactics and cheating, aka “This is a man’s world, until it isn’t”


Neymar is a diver. Come on, right? We all know it, and we knew it when we bought him. Diver. Shameful. Right?

Wrong. Further, the campaign to label him one is disgusting. It’s an effort to cover a player with crap before he even has a chance to develop ANY sort of image or reputation at all. Mourinho claimed that he dived against Celtic. Culers who should know better are saying that he is a diver. It’s all rather shameful.

HAS Neymar dived? Yep. Name me an attacker who hasn’t. On more than one occasion. Rooney? Yup. Suarez? Please. Iniesta? Yep. Pedro? Yep. Cuenca? Yep. Drogba, Torres, Cole? Yep, yep and you betcha.

Are they divers? Be careful how you answer that one.

I reckon life would have been easier for so many had Neymar been an expensive flop. Then no narratives would have to be developed. People could just sit there with smug faces and say, “See. Look. YouTube sensation.” But now, that he is beginning to live up some of his potential, making a mark at the best club in the world, a new way must be found.

Meanwhile Mourinho, who rode herd over specialists such as Ronaldo, DiMaria, Marcelo and Pepe, wants to eliminate diving from the game. It’s all blind and rather silly, for the simple reason that diving will NEVER be eliminated from the game. Players will always attempt to deceive referees. Always. Even the most stalwart of them, the man’s men of the game. Because that has become PART of the game.

Further, people have to differentiate between diving and embellishment. THIS is diving:

Now if Neymar is kicked in the back and chooses to embellish that kick to make sure the ref saw it, is that diving? Jose Mourinho says that it is. Celtic supporters say that it is. Others say that it wasn’t. Technically, it wasn’t, because there was actual contact, which moves it into the embellishment category.

Is Didier Drogba a diver, or a player who maximizes the effect of contact? For me, he’s the latter, putting him in an even bigger camp than players who have taken dives. During the Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge, Drogba WAS actually being fouled as he lolled about on the grass. He wasn’t simulating contact. And our players, who have done the same thing repeatedly, gestured at him to get up and shook their heads as if to say, “For shame.”

But we see players all around the world, in every league, week after week, match after match, clutching the wrong leg and looking pleadingly at the official, begging for resolution of a “problem.” If the official obliges, they leap to their feet, redeemed.

Wayne Rooney, on anyone’s list of man’s men, has dives and embellishments in his playing history. Ronaldo, a bull of a player blessed with stability, speed and brute strength, will go over if you breathe on him hard. A man mountain such as Balotelli will grab a player and fall over in the box, just as Pepe did, to earn a penalty. Diving is part of the game, and a disgusting part of the game at that. But it’s a “reputation” question, right? For example, Messi doesn’t go down is part of his reputation. Messi doesn’t dive. You bet he doesn’t.

Messi dives. Messi also embellishes. Recall his going down in a Classic when Arbeloa raised his arm. Messi will seek an advantage, just like any other player, reputation notwithstanding. And make no mistake, “reputation” is the key word here. “Messi doesn’t go down.” There is even a YouTube video or dozen to that effect. But examples where he does indeed go down aren’t too difficult to find. Why? Because Messi, and any other athlete who plays the beautiful game, is looking for any edge, any advantage, any lever with which to pry open a match. The range of prybars spans Otherworldly Brilliance to Let’s Try This. Diving and embellishment are part of the game, even if they shouldn’t be.

A diving-free world

If you are going to eradicate diving, you have to do a number of things, all of which run counter to the continuous play nature of the game. But here’s how I would eradicate diving.

— Multiple cameras that follow the match, even more than do already, for every match.
— When there is a foul, you go to video review of the foul. Every. Last. Time.
— If a player is ajudged to have dived, he gets a red card. No questions asked, no appeal, with a two-match suspension. That suspension increases by one match with each subsequent offense.

Simple, even as it is not so simple, right?

But there is a complexity, which arises when you have a certain type of situation created by a small, technically gifted player playing a game against larger, stronger players. The one way that the bigger, stronger player has to control, or put the smaller player “off his game,” is to kick him. Early, often and with vigor. The hope is that the small, technically skilled player will become less so, because he is worried about getting kicked instead of working his magic.

So that wee player is kicked. And kicked. And kicked again. And again. He wants to “man up,” keep playing the match according to these hairy-chested rules of engagement, but getting kicked by a bigger, stronger player hurts. A LOT. So then what? The next time he is kicked, he goes to ground, clutching the part in which he was kicked, to draw attention to the fact that he was kicked. Because it’s worth a shot, right? And it works. A foul is called, or maybe a card is produced. Then, with the situation under control, the small, technically gifted player can return to being a small, technically gifted player instead of an apprehensive player.

So. Is the small, skilled player simply protecting himself with this embellishment? Is this a tactic, or pursuing an unfair advantage, “cheating” in some way? Good question. But as far as the game is concerned, calling those players “divers” is no different than a bully calling the smaller kid a “baby” when he is punched, and seeks the succor of a parent or other person who can make it stop. “Go ahead, ya baby! Run crying home to your mother!”

So don’t punch that kid in the nose.

Cheating, quantity vs quality

In another situation, it is late in a match that a player’s team has to win, and he has the ball. He rushes toward goal with the ball, and the defender approaches him in a way that is going to prevent the attacker from being able to influence the match. The defender moves close to the player, close enough to make it clear that a physical play is about to ensue. The attacker then throws up his arms, falls down and looks at the official, hoping to “win” a penalty that will bring a goal scoring chance, and win the match.

THIS is cheating, as something clearly differentiated from a tactic intended purely to stop a player getting kicked, time and time again.

As a general rule, a player will receive 2-3 times more kicks than fouls that are actually called. So for every foul that Messi gets called on an opposing player, there are two or three other times where his shirt is pulled, or a follow-through just happens to strike his heel or Achilles tendon. If my knee just happened to hit him in the back of the thigh as I was coming to a halt, is that my fault?

Ah! But not everyone can afford a team of Messis and Iniestas. Some of us just have what we have, and if you can’t play the same quality of match as those little guys, how are we supposed to stop them, except to foul them? A foul-free match would be pretty boring, right? And our big, strong, not-as-gifted team would probably lose. Is THAT fair?

So many good questions. The supporter of the big, strong team would say “No! Unfair!” The supporter of the wee, skilled team would say “Fair. Absolutely.”

People who are so disgusted by divers and embellishers are neglecting the easiest solution: Don’t kick them.

“But that is my only option in a given situation,” a player might say. When talent was being doled out, a player such as Messi got his, then a bunch of other folks’. So playing against that player, straight up, is unfair for a less-talented player trying to stop him. The rules allow for a certain physicality, but Messi will take that physicality, bounce off it and proceed to make you part of a highlight reel. So what now?

Reputation and The Jordan Rules

When the Chicago Bulls were beginning their ascent, that team’s chief rivals, the Detroit Pistons, were a big, physical team, the very opposite of the Bulls’ technicians in identity. They had a set of Jordan Rules, which was essentially, no layups or easy baskets. So every time Michael Jordan drove to the rim, he got fouled. Hard. They distributed the fouls among the players, so there was always somebody to whack Jordan.

What stopped the Jordan rules wasn’t just Jordan passing and jump shooting. It was also referee intervention, as in Superstar Rules. “Hey, whoa! Hands off the meal ticket!” And suddenly, you couldn’t even breathe on Jordan hard without getting a foul call, and Jordan got all of the 50/50 calls. Reputation.

The Neymar penalty shouts against Valladolid were all clear contraventions of the rules against physical contact in the box. Some say his reputation was why he didn’t get those calls. Others say it was a crappy ref. Some say Messi would have gotten those calls, others say he wouldn’t have, because the reputation that he doesn’t go down works against his getting such calls.

But rules are rules, until …

The ref question

There is a physical play, and an illegal play. Within the rules of the game, there is room for interpretation by different officials. Some say, “No blood, no foul.” Others are more rigid interpreters of the game, and supporters of different types of teams know these officials, and are either cheered or chagrined when one or another is assigned to their match.

My solution for eradicating diving from the game has a second level, which is to remove illegal play from the game. So trips, kicks and other plays intended to put a player off his game, are dealt with harshly, immediately and (here is the kicker) UNIFORMLY. A Howard Webb foul isn’t an Undiamo Mallenco foul isn’t a Muniz Fernandez foul. So send ALL the refs to the same school, teach them all EXACTLY what a foul is, and make it clear that grounds for interpretation and judgment have been removed.

But were that to happen, you would quickly have a situation where, like the Liga’s strict interpretation of a handball that everyone found so silly, judgment was removed. “The ball contacted the hand, therefore it is a yellow. Period.” So players were kicking the ball at defender arms, full force, to get the yellow card, and it was silly. Judgment and interpretation returned.

So NOW what?

Players are going to circumvent the rules. That, too, is part of the game. Mourinho claims to want to eliminate diving. Yet he will also claim to want matches called fairly, which usually means to the benefit of his club. But Mourinho, like any other coach who claims to want to eliminate diving, doesn’t REALLY want to eliminate diving. He just wants to influence matters in a way favorable for his club. So if you label Neymar a diver right now, you hope it sticks so that when he plays your club and Ashley Cole knocks him down, the ref will say in his head, “Neymar is a diver. I won’t call a foul, as he might have dived there.”

And suddenly the match is unfair, even as it is subjectively “fair.” Mission accomplished.

But if diving is cheating, so is fouling, even if that is the only way that one player might have to stop another. The game deals with both in the same way: yellow cards. But in both cases, there is judgement. Was it REALLY a dive, or did the play happen so fast, the defender so skilled, that it LOOKED like a dive? Ah! Video replay. But that would disrupt the match, and reduce officials to automatons, who go to the video booth to make every decisive call. But the call would be correct, right? And diving would be eliminated, and the game would be better.

Or would it?

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. andrecito
    October 8, 2013

    awesome post kxevin…

    what can be said?…if anyone has had the pleasure to watch fc barcelona’s games this year…they can easily gather that..(input all the superlatives that we have discussed at length for all the players who were part of this team up until this season, i.e. cesc finally owning his awesomeness, alexis finally crowning himself prince of barcelona, xavi, prolonging his xaviness much to the delight of everyone, bartra..etc….adriano, song…ok we love these guys…) + neymar. this smear campaign..i can only compare to the (sorry to bring politics into this) repulican effort to bring down president obama and all of america…sorry to do this…
    but i can only see this as a select few seeing something so positive and paradigm shifting..and wanting to crush it because they are not directly a part of it..it makes me want to delete marca, espnfc, goal, bbc from my favorites and only tune into here for awhile..i think thats what i’ll do..seriously,,,anyone who calls neymar a diver has clearly not watched anything…for me.. all 3 takedowns last game were clear penalites…neymar beats his man, and then, instead of getting a shot off..ends up on the turf…against celtic..what has to happen to further deliniate the line between getting kicked and not getting kicked? ending up with stiches across the forehead? its disgusting…and whats worse..all the world that isnt diehard barca fans read this garbage and accept it as something, truth, half-truth…garbage…for me, its garbage…and for a guy who rarely gets angry..im angry…

  2. Evan
    October 8, 2013

    I like your suggested rules, except that I wouldn’t stop the match for every foul to check if it was a dive or not. I would make a rule that says that if a player dives, after the match when everyone has seen the replays and it was clear that he dived, that player should get a 5 match suspension. For dives, not embelishments. This way, players will become a lot more reluctant to dive.

  3. barca96
    October 8, 2013

    Wait, so Jordan did get ref’s help. Just last week he said that something like the current players wouldn’t be able to handle the physicallity of the game during his time.

    He also said that he would be able to beat LeBron in his prime. Using my brothers phone now in bed. Don’t really have time to look for the exact quotes.

  4. barca96
    October 8, 2013

    Culers who should know
    better are saying that he is a diver. It’s all rather

    I don’t know which Cule you mean but I can’t recall any Cule here calling Neymar a diver. I did however said that in general our players should man up. Stop embellishing. Stop acting. Stop asking for cards. Just stop all that and play fair.

    I believe that you don’t need to go down to get the refs’ attention after getting kicked many times. Just play on. Just because the defender is trying to cheat by fouling doesn’t mean we have to resort to illegal play too.

    If the ref missed the foul then he obviously isn’t following the match close enough! Simple as that. If I’m not mistaken the refs also do a post match review. After a post match review, if the ref is adjudged to have missed a foul, should get a talking to by their respective FA and tell him to improve for his next match.

    As for the offender, well, he shouldn’t even foul in the first place. But if the refs were better equipped (camera or post match review), fouls shouldn’t even be happening. Then football would be an open and foul free smooth flowing game that we all like.

    In real life, if I committed a foul, I’ll raise my hand and call the foul (I believe I would do the same thing if I were to play professionally, I would have a tough time handling the regret of cheating or lying afterwards but maybe it’s easy to say now considering that money isn’t at stake).

    I agree that all refs should go to the same school. Everyone should follow one law. I don’t like how the refs from each country interprets the calls differently.

    • Peter
      October 8, 2013

      The ref is one with two eyes that look in the same direction. Most dirty tricks are done when the ref isn’t looking or isn’t paying real attention. Sometimes the dirty act is excused as “I couldn’t stop” or as Godin(?) would say “I couldn’t not stomp”. That’s the problem, lots of professional footballers aren’t interested that much in playing a sport as in winning. I suppose when the difference between winning and losing might mean a bonus bigger than the annual salary of a mid-level manager, you do whatever it takes to win. Even more so, you’re obliged to win by the thousands of supporters, the club that pays you the magnificent salary, the sponsors, the dozens of chicks trying to get in the bed of a winner…

      With modern tech on top level I think it won’t be that difficult to send a slow-motion close action footage to a small video screen at the ref’s left forearm. It would need less software and hardware than the average Iphone. It wouldn’t even have to be available immediately after the foul. A ref could review the fouls he has or hasn’t called in the break and “mark up” a player who hasn’t yet seen yellow but deserves it. Talking strictly about highest level competitions that can afford the tech and the cameras, of course.

      But of course all this is open to interpretation by the ref.

      To be certain, just because the other guy is fouling doesn’t mean you need to dive. But you should definitely point the fact to the ref’s attention. Otherwise you will be kicked into submission and often the player’s definition of what’s accepted level of physical play, the more physical player’s definition and the ref’s definition are different. Until you show in some way that the limit has been passed, most refs will tend to allow physicality in order to keep the ball rolling.

      P.S. I’ve seen quite a few self-proclaimed a “cule” talk about Neymar diving around what not. Interestingly these mostly come from the savage islands north of France.

      • Jim
        October 8, 2013

        Not sure what point you’re making here, Peter, either about “self proclaimed clues” or “savage islands”.

          • Peter
            October 9, 2013

            I wasn’t referring to commenters here if that’s what you mean, it was a discussion on another forum. The bit about the savage islands is a joke on the fact that many EPL fans have no problem with kicking another player, but have a problem about “diving”. 🙂

  5. October 8, 2013

    Of course Jordan got the ref’s help. Remember his title winning jump shot against Utah? And regarding today’s lack of physicality, I think that removing hand checking has proved a game changer.

    Awesome article, Kevin. Again, Barça is facing a very cynical off-pitch campaign in order to influence how games are called on the pitch. It is really discouraging to see so many referees fall for it. Or maybe they are biased against us to begin with.

  6. barca96
    October 8, 2013

    The same should be applied to fouls. Of course there are different levels.

    Arbeloa on Villa or Marcelo on Pedro or Pepe on Messi type of fouls should get 5 match bans.

    Marcelo on Cesc or Alonso on Messi scissor type of tackle or elbows or slaps (footballers prefer to slap for God knows why) 4 matches.

    Diving warrants a 3 match bans only for me. It is cheating too but it doesn’t actually put anyone in danger except for the fact that he’s trying to cheat.

    Etc., etc…

    And Pepe kicking out on that hapless Getafe player on the ground should get >10 matches.

    They should put guidelines like this. It will put an end to all these illegal things that has been tarnishing the good name of football.

    • barca96
      October 8, 2013

      It’s a reply to Evan but as usual it ended up at the bottom.

    • October 8, 2013

      If you want diving to have a three-match ban, would that include Messi, falling to the pitch as it poleaxed after Arbeloa raised his arm? It was a clear attempt to gain an advantage by getting an opposing player sanctioned.

      Post-match penalties would be a valid method as well, where leagues conduct an after the fact look at contentious situations. They do in other instances such as dangerous play, so why not diving, as well?

      But if you look the way Liverpool reacted after Suarez got a ban for actually BITING an opponent, it’s clear the hurdles that real measures face when it comes to making our sport truly fair.

      In that very different world, Pepe would be serving a ban right now for his actions. So would Balotelli. The damage, however, has already been done in that the cheat worked. So it’s too late to go back and change the outcome.

      • barcadan
        October 9, 2013

        I always liked the NFL “challenge” the coaches are allowed, stopping the game to question a call but gambling one of their time-outs in the process. what if a coach could gamble one substitution to challenge an important call, such as a penalty? then they stop the game and check the video. if the call stands, the coach loses one sub. would add a strategic element to the coaches use of subs, and give them an added tool in influencing the game

    • G6O
      October 8, 2013

      One thing that I never see pointed out is that while our players may dive from time to time, they have never done the kind of things Madrid players have.

      Pepe kicking the Getafe players, Ramos kicking Messi, Pepe stomping on Messi’s hand, Alonso’s tackles, Marcelo on Cesc, what Pepe did against Elche, etc. etc. etc.

      We dive and embellish when we get touched. We have never tried to physically harm another player on purpose, which is what a lot of those situation involved. This is a big difference for me.

      • kosby
        October 8, 2013

        ^ wholeheartedly agree. And thats one more reason I respect our players tremendously

  7. barca96
    October 8, 2013

    Yeah I remember that jump shot but what about it? He didn’t get any foul call ad far as I remember there wasn’t an offensive or defensive foul.

    Found the quote;
    Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and five-time
    MVP, also said that the game was much more physical
    when he played than it is today.
    “You go in with the understanding of, ‘I’m going to get
    hit. I’m going to pay the price,'” he said. “But that’s
    part of the game. I’m not going to be afraid to go
    inside. Those are the types of things that these kids
    don’t even have a clue of how we had to grow up and
    how we had to play.”

    So if it is indeed true that he received special protection, it’s like Messi saying the same thing 20 years later in an interview because Messi does get protected treatment at times (or so the commentators always says. Talented players are protected these days they usually say. I believe it should apply to everyone).

    • Messiah10
      October 9, 2013

      Seriously? Jordan shoved Byron(?) off of him to creat space for his jump shot. It was an obvious shove that should’ve been called and wasn’t. I’m from Indianpolis and Reggie Miller for the Pacers shoved Jordan to creat space for his last second shot in a game during the Conference Finals and he wasn’t called for that either. Both instances were ridiculous no calls. Just as Neymar’s penalty shouts were. Sometimes I wonder what the referee is actually thinking or watching. The problem I have is that ref’s aren’t held accountable at all for their poor decisions. They don’t have to offer an explanation and are protected by the leagues they work for.

  8. Jim
    October 8, 2013

    We’ll just have to agree to differ on this one, Kxevin. I disagree with almost everything you have said in this article.

    I hate everything Mourinho stands for, understand why we are getting his current hypocritical nonsense and was one of the biggest supporters of bringing Neymar to our club so I’ve no axe to grind on these issues. I’ve also stated my views before at length so won’t bore everyone with them again.

    What I would repeat is that cheating in any form should be unacceptable, both in itself,morally, and also for the example it sets our kids. Neymar feigned injury against Celtic and added to his reputation as a cheat. He paid for it in the last game and will continue to do so unless he changes his approach. Adopting a very narrow definition of what’s right and what’s wrong or attempting to bring in a quality imbalance argument or attempting to label Messi with the same attitude is all just obscuring the main issue. Everybody knew that Neymar was feigning and shouldn’t have done it. Getting kicked, getting on with the game and letting the ref deal with it is what football should be about and Messi is one of the best examples of this attitude. Neymar has a long way to go. Giving him encouragement in what he is doing only leads to long term problems.

    One last point. The way to get rid of this blight on our game, and if things continue on their current path we will have a big problem, is for the managers to make it clear to the players that they do that again they won’t be playing the next game.

    • barca96
      October 8, 2013

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way regarding this matter.

    • October 8, 2013

      Jim, I agree that Neymar didn’t do himself any favors by exagerrating against Celtic, but Brown was an idiot for kicking out at Neymar, or, in his own words:

      “I realise that I made a mistake in getting sent off last night. It’s something that happened in the heat of the moment but I shouldn’t have acted in this way.”

      • Jim
        October 8, 2013

        Of course he was, Lev. No arguments there. He’s a horrible player imo. Not attempting to defend him at all.

    • kosby
      October 8, 2013


      I politely disagree with you for this incident. There were incidents that led to Neymar acting (no pun intended) the way he did –

      1. Celtic player went out of his way to kick Neymar. Does it matter how hard he kicked ?? Absolutely not.
      2. Should that be a red card ? It most definitely should.
      3. Did Neymar dive ? Absolutely not. He might have, in the past, maybe at Santos. At Barca ? In all matches I have never seen him dive. He may have gone down lightly. That is not the same as diving. If there is contact in the penalty box where the defender is not going for the ball, its a penalty IMO.

      So, the Celtic player has played his card. His game is done. Are you saying Neymar should simply accept that he has been kicked ? Simply hope that the ref noticed that ? Just stand by when clear injustice has been done ? My answer to all those questions is no. Neymar should do all he can to get the ref’s attention to the foul.

      Neymar did not just collapse and start screaming. He was fouled. IMO the ref HAS to see that. The ref also HAS to see that Neymar was kicked after the initial foul. Now its Neymar’s turn. He HAS to grab the ref’s attention. He did what he had to, inorder to do that.

      This is not cheating. He did not initiate this. He was fouled and he was kicked.

      I do not agree with this notion of letting players get away with insane fouls. As we all saw, these incidents have the potential to decide the outcome of a match.

      As far as reviewing AFTER the match is done and dusted, well its just not good enough for me. Maybe the culprit gets a fine or a ban. But what about the match that is done and dusted ?

      I stand by Neymar and anyone else who gets insanely fouled by players who aren’t competent enough to play football without hurting the opposition players.

      • Jim
        October 8, 2013

        No problem. It’s all just opinion. 🙂

    • Peter
      October 8, 2013

      I have to ask, as I have done in previous discussions in other places, if exaggerating a foul or a dirty act is cheating, isn’t it also cheating to foul INTENTIONALLY or to try hurt the opponent? After all, the physicality in football is allowed because refs realise that sometimes you aren’t able to judge the millimeters to the ball, that sometimes one of the players is bigger than the other. But this allowance should not be abused.

      Again, Neymar didn’t feign injury. If he did feign(and apparently unlike you I don’t know his pain threshold), he feigned pain.
      Again, often the dirties tricks, hits, hacks and kicks are meant to be hidden from the eyes of the ref or to be excused as manifestations of the allowed physicality. If the victim doesn’t show that something illegal has happened the ref will probably not notice it – and the same illegal act will happen again.
      The interesting part is that the same “tough” “physical” players would be falling and screaming bloody murder if they had to face someone who outmuscles them the way they outmuscle the “sissies” they ridicule.

      • 86ed
        October 8, 2013

        I’ll give you Mexes’ example from over the weekend. Dude tried to punch Chiellini (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1DZQwRtMCQ). Did it hurt Chiellini? Not really so he didn’t really dive. Refs missed it, but on replay Mexes got 4 games’ suspenssion.
        So there. Violent play was punished without the need to exagerate or embellish, and Juve went on to win the match, This is what good teams should do, win against 11 men on the pitch. To punch is just as much cheating as to dive and gain advantage.

    • October 8, 2013

      But Jim, this is s balanced post that raises questions, some facetious (of course you aren’t going to video review every foul) some not (what do smaller players do in the face of being kicked?).

      If you disagree with almost everything, I encourage you to read it again, because the piece is intended to get people thinking about a matter that involves our club. It isn’t taking a stand, or defending diving or embellishment. But it does ask questions that a lot of people don’t have valid or reasonable answers to.

      As for “attempting to bring a quality imbalance argument or attempting to label Messi with the same attitude,” again. Read it again. No such thing is happening. The simple point is that every player does it, even a player who “everyone” says doesn’t. Simple as that.

      The whole piece, as a matter of fact, is as simple as can be. It asks a question: what can we do about this, and what do you, as someone who watches the game, think about the situation?

      There is no “narrow definition” of what is right and what is wrong. Diving is wrong. Fouling is wrong. Kicking a player in order to stop him doing something is wrong. Those definitions aren’t narrow. They exist in the game’s rules.

      As for the issue that still seems to have you in a bother, Neymar wasn’t feigning. He was kicked. But he was exaggerating. Absolutely. But it wasn’t a fake kick. And you still don’t answer the question, one raised in the piece but apparently you are still vexed about the Brown red:

      What is a player to do about getting kicked all the time?

      “Getting on with the game” clearly doesn’t work, because it it did, the games would be ajudicated in a way that removed kicking a more skilled player as a viable option. So yes, players (not JUST Neymar, but many, many players, including some of those stalwart, manly Celtic lads) exaggerate.

      Everyone agrees that diving and embellishing are cheating to different degrees. In the case of the former, no foul occurred. But in the case of the latter, a foul occurred, but the effect of that foul is exaggerated.

      This isn’t about Neymar, despite the label that people want to hang on him. It’s about the game. The Neymar point is a lever into a broader question that you want to ignore, but it’s there. A Celtic player exaggerated his way into a yellow on Busquets, using the same logic that others are using in this situation. So what’s the difference? The to me unfair label that Neymar carries.

      Neymar doesn’t have a long way to go. After the red, play was physical, but it wasn’t unfair. And Neymar dealt with it, rubbing shoulders and dealing with challenges. The kicking stopped, so his tactic worked, just as kicking a player often does.

      The question isn’t what or who is cheating. It is what can the GAME, the entire game, do about it? It’s a lot deeper than the player who dives wouldn’t play the next match. No coach would voluntarily do without one of his star players.

      So what would you do?

      • Jim
        October 8, 2013

        Thanks, Kxevin. I’m only vexed about the Brown red because it was achieved by feigning hurt. If Neymar had got up and walked away – as Messi would have done – and the ref pulled a red for the kick so be it. But he didn’t, the ref pulled a yellow and changed it to a red for whatever reason . That encourages the suspicion he was fooled by the actions of Neymar. I’m not in favour of any fouling, only against deliberately cheating to gain an advantage. In many ways we try to hold moral stances as a club. Difficult to hold that position if we condone cheating.

        Not sure what bit of my stance isn’t clear but I would no more support a Celtic or any other player doing it than Neymar. I’m not ignoring that. It’s an absolute stand against cheating of whatever sort by whoever, not a well if I think it’s justified or if the ref isn’t giving me the decisions I want I’ll just dive or feign injury. What kind of morality is that? I know it’s not easy to deal with- I referee kids’ games occasionally and see their changing attitudes to it

        All those who are happy (ish) about it prepare for a slugfest of simulation when Bale, Di Maria, Pepe, Ramos and CR7 come to town. With regard to the coaches, I know there aren’t many with the courage to do that but SAF did and also Moyes. It’d more be the threat which would be enough.

        I agree though. It’s a good discussion point. I just wish sometimes our game was more like golf with its honour code or even rugby, a game I detest but where simulation would see you run out of town.

        • G6O
          October 8, 2013

          Once again, refs have had radio communication with each other for years now. I am ready to bet the ref pulled a yellow for the foul, which was a clear yellow. But Neymar’s body was blocking his vision of the kick so he probably didn’t see it. Our players protested, he probably had a quick consultation with the assistants and the referee behind the goal line who was in position to see it and changed it to red. Which is what it should have been – I would have given a yellow for the kick, but he already had another yellow for the foul, so it’s an automatic red anyway.

          • Jim
            October 8, 2013

            There’s no such thing as an automatic red. The decision is always the referee’s. The nearest linesman was at least 50 yards away and on the other side from the incident – the ref was about ten feet and behind so he had a perfect view. Anyway, this isn’t really the point I was making. It was about Neymar’s reaction for me.

          • October 8, 2013

            @Jim my golf comment was perhaps a bit unfair, please take it in good jest!

          • Jim
            October 10, 2013

            To Lev, your comment wasn’t unfair at all. I’m just not sure it’s a “false” sense 🙂

        • Gwin
          October 8, 2013

          When Messi slumped and rolled around clutching is head after receiving a clearly malicious shove in the head from Coentrao a few Classicos ago, there wasn’t much debate about embellishment. When Messi rolled around upon having his hand stomped on by Pepe, there wasn’t any noise about embellishment. Both events went unpunished because perhaps the ref missed it, he was reluctant to ‘spoil’ a classico or because he concluded both events weren’t severe enough. Perhaps, a little bleeding or fake blood would have helped. You see, it’s quite easy to sit at somewhere and cry foul about the wrongs and rights about football as a sport. And yes, diving is wrong. However, you cannot convince me that taking advantage of a player’s mistake or stupidity is wrong, your job isn’t to do all you can to ensure your opponent remains on the pitch, that’s his. In the instances I mentioned above, logic would have me believe that if Messi gets his head shoved by Coentrao, say, at home, he wouldn’t go down clutching his head as if having been hit by a gun. Rather, he’d demand an explanation or retaliate. Messi didn’t do any of these for a reason. He somehow didn’t forget he was playing a professional football match, and in professional football, you don’t go around shoving or kicking opponents’ heads or backs in the heat of the moment. So, since Jim, 86ed and Barca96 call embellishment cheating, we can agree that Messi “cheated” by trying to call attention to Coentrao’s actions.
          When my country, Nigeria, were leading against Greece in the 2010 world cup and our own Keita got sent off for kicking out at a player after a brief exchange between the two, I was devastated. Devastated not because I knew the Greek player would have probably returned the favour with a punch were it not a football match, no. I was actually amused by his ’embellishment’. I was angry because I knew as a professional footballer, Keita should have known better. He knew it too, because he left the match covering is face in shame. We surrendered a one goal lead and subsequently lost 2-1 after the red card. Sani Keita still receives death threats till this day from Nigerian football fanatics.
          Diving and embellishment to get calls for non-existent fouls is totally wrong. Embellishment to call attention to actual fouls is something I find intelligent and often very necessary (I often enjoy and find it amusing when I see these in games). I hope you guys get my point.
          This is my first comment on this blog. I fell in love with its writers and visitors a long time ago though.

          • Jim
            October 8, 2013


            Don’t remember that one but yeah, if Messi feigned injury then he cheated.

            In a sense this argument doesn’t go anywhere because if you say a player is entitled to do this who decides which players are entitled to cheat? If I feel hard done by by a decision of the ref. do I have the right to feign injury? Then we all end up doing it all the time. So what happens? It goes back to the ref who has to decide what happens. Madness lies that way.

            Am I entitled to kick my ball at golf into a better lie because I feel that I didn’t deserve to go out of bounds at the previous hole?

            The rules of football say that the referee is the sole decision maker in a game of football. Better to leave it that way and get on with the game. Nobody said life was gonna be fair (as I’m fond of telling my miscreants at school) 🙂

          • October 8, 2013

            “Am I entitled to kick my ball at golf into a better lie because I feel that I didn’t deserve to go out of bounds at the previous hole?”

            I don’t know… Don’t most golf players have a false sense of self-entitlement to begin with? :p

        • Gwin
          October 8, 2013

          Thanks Levon, thanks Jim.

          I don’t think rolling around and clutching one’s head is feigning injury. If anything, it is simply exaggerating pain. Besides, we can’t say as a matter of fact that he exaggerated because we weren’t the ones who got shoved in the head or kicked at in the back. We can’t measure pain. In essence, you can’t condemn a player for the way he acts when he is kicked at, especially when this kick comes with malice. Like Kxevin says, simply do not kick him.

  9. PrinceYuvi
    October 8, 2013

    Thanks kxevin.
    Nice post.
    I saw, ‘Messi dives’ & I couldn’t read any further.
    So you can chastise me for commenting without actually reading the post.

  10. ooga aga
    October 8, 2013

    Isaac Cuenca began to work out with the group today. Good luck Isaac!

    • ooga aga
      October 8, 2013

      FWIW his operation was June 7, and at that time they said he would be out 4 months…which brings us to now.

  11. nia
    October 8, 2013

    Mou is one to talk. His liga title was won thanks to incompetent refs and Dive Maria. What I find annoying is that, Barca players get ‘abused’ A LOT in matches. Most times they get up and get on with it. Busi gets kicked a lot as well and yet people still label him a diver after that ONE peek-a-boo incident. Ney has been given every foul outside the box but, miraculously, once he gets fouled in the box, he has dived. Messi rarely goes down and he too finds it hard to win pens once he gets into the box. I’m not saying our players are not divers or embellish the fouls once in a while but, I do think the witch hunt against them is not fair considering what other teams do. I agree that after getting fouled so many times, after a while roll around a bit more to get the refs attention.

    What Pepe and Balo did was plain cheating and should face retroactive punishment because it changed results. I’m surprised people were even saying how Ney reacted was worse than what Pepe did, BULL!! There is such thing as crossing the line and unfortunately, the more Barca wins, the more these topics will always be mentioned because according to a lot of fans who have been on the losing end v Barca, have lost unfairly.

    No doubt such comments from Mou and Lennon and even the Valladolid coach hurt us because the ref will already be influenced by such comments. It’s hard to tackle this issue because where one sees a dive, others don’t. I think to tackle this, maybe the fourth official should have access to video replay in such incidents and or a review by a non biased board for retroactive action including point deduction for plays like Pepes’ to win a false penalty. If you start taking away points, they might think twice.

  12. ciaran
    October 8, 2013

    So you’re defending a 3 on 2 break away and have the chance to foul the player with the ball or just let him go past…
    You pull his shirt and take the yellow card and get on with it.
    Tactical foul and your manager looks on approvingly.

    So what did you do? Cheat… to gain an advantage.

    Now, I grew up watching the EPL and love players who get up and get on with the game. I believe that there is a gigantic difference between diving and, as Kxevin puts it, embellishment.

    Making sure a referee protects you by going to ground when you are fouled is not the same as diving to gain an advantage in my opinion. You see how often Messi tries to stay on his feet even when it disadvantages him; ‘look he is still standing so he must not have been fouled’.

    Kicking a good player around the pitch is cheating, and every bit as bad a diving, which is why players like Pepe sicken me. By contrast, Sergio Ramos is a very tough player and I actually like him.

  13. October 8, 2013

    There is of course a type of cheating we haven’t mentioned yet, namely kicking the hell out of somebody and then acting as if that person dived…

    • nia
      October 8, 2013

      Like what Arbeloa did to Villa in the copa final and violently picked him up? This one really irritates me and the fact that such challenges go unpunished a lot, only fuels the aggressors. It’s even worse in liga coz a lot of the teams get away with playing overly aggressive v Barca and lord knows what Pepe, Ramos and Alonso have to do to get booked at any given match. Liga is corrupt and as long as EE are not winning, they will get away with anything and as long as Barca are winning, we won’t get the calls.

  14. nia
    October 8, 2013

    Espnfc had the same debate today that we’re having here and like us, can’t come to a consensus of what to do with diving. Here’s a podcast link.


  15. barcadan
    October 9, 2013

    Excellent and timely post Kxevin! As an American soccer fan, diving has always been the most difficult thing to defend with my my-soccer friends. It is just so shameful, and “un-manly”.
    It is also cultural. The Spanish have a concept of “picardia”, which is slyness and cunning, and generally seen in a positive light. You do what you have to do to get what you want. In Spain, “cheating” is not seen in the absolutely negative light it might be in other places. Kids regularly prepare “chuletas” or cheat-sheets, for their school exams, right in front of their parents. And lets not talk about politics. . .
    In any case, I am a supporter of video replays as a solution – I think sports is an expression of human agility and athleticism, and thats what makes it beautiful. Not “picardia”.
    That said, since arriving at Barca, I have not seen Neymar dive once. And Mourinho is a disgustin hypocritical douche bag. God I miss him . . . 😉

    • barcadan
      October 9, 2013

      Sorry – with my “NON-SOCCER FRIENDS”

  16. October 9, 2013

    I really have no idea what all the fuss is about when it comes to Neymar. He actually really isn’t that bad, I was expecting a lot worse considering his “reputation”. More often than not he tries to stay on his feet, but he does generally get very rough treatment and he is not the biggest fella so of course he is going to get knocked down a lot.

    Regarding the Celtic incident, I am happy he made the most of it, because if he hadn’t then maybe Brown wouldn’t have gotten a red and make no mistake, he deserved a red. There is no more cowardly act (in football or otherwise) than kicking a man when he is down. The fact that Brown didn’t make as much contact as he perhaps would have liked is irrelevant, in fact he would have deserved a red even if he had made no contact at all because the INTENT was there and it was violent. Players like Neymar know that they have to make the most out of challenges to level the playing field because players like Brown will always try and get away with kicking or stamping players when they are down. Sometimes I really wish Messi would “embellish” a bit more because as great as his ambition to stay on his feet is it does work against him.

    • October 9, 2013

      Moi aussi. I have been wishing for long that may be, Messi needs to go down more often, not just to get more free kicks, but also to bring the culprit into attention. Many fouls go unnoticed.

      But then this also brings to attention, the quality of the referee. Most of the time, foul is called only if the player goes down. In other ways, is it not also persuading players like Messi, to go down often, rather than continuing. In this way, are not ref’s responsible for the play acting.

      – May be the best is to send all the first league referees to the same football camp in the summer time to learn the same rules.
      – End of every match, let the ref’s look at the video and punish players, who fouled/dived or whatever which is against the rules
      – May be each captain, should have the right to make 1 or 2 video replay ‘request’ during each half. (And if he wins it, he can have a bonus call too) Like this the game is not disturbed by too many video replays and the ref still is the man.

      • PrinceYuvi
        October 9, 2013

        Video referrel will slow down tempo of the game so they don’t use it.

  17. mom4
    October 9, 2013

    @ Lev:
    This is a day late and a dollar short but great review last thread.

    But vinyl? And twelve inch?
    Man, you are old! And so am I! 🙂

    • October 9, 2013

      Thanks for the compliment! Idk if I’m that old but I certainly feel like I’m getting there, lol. DJ’s used vinyl well into the noughties, though 😉

  18. October 9, 2013

    I find it strange when you express your disgust at Culers and then go on to say that Messi dives, along with Iniesta and others.
    No they don’t.

    It boils my blood when I see people like Ronaldo, Drogba and Pepe talk about a man’s game but use that meaningless talk to carry out some of the most shameful and ‘unmanly’ acts on the pitch. Since I find it highly vexing to articulate what I think is cheating, I will just offer a simple solution to make a natural and seamless transition to a (hopefully) fairer game in the future. And yes, I think fairer is better, to answer your very last question.

    It’d be nice to not only send the refs to the ‘same school’, and make them accountable, but also empower them and protect them in some way, from external pressures like media, coaches who whine, etc so that they can carry out their job with prudence.

    We have such amazing advancements in technology and communication, yet football – a sport that means so much to so many, cloaks ‘unfairness’ with unpredictability and so called ‘beauty of the sport’. I see no beauty there. Even if there is beauty in tragedy.

    So what are my solutions? quick fixes, so to speak, just like the goal line technology that has been brought to many tournaments, that ensures fairness to prevail without affecting the flow of the game?

    – Install an additional ref with access to quick video replays and radio communication.

    – Each team gets a maximum of two appeals that can be used at any time for the duration of the match that is made by the captain to the ref on the field.

    – The ref with the benefit of slow motion replays simply pings back the decision to the guy on the field in a matter of seconds, at most a minute. This is factored into stoppage time as well.

    – BUT, if a captain makes an appeal and gets it wrong (which means the ref had got it right initially), his second appeal (if its available) is cancelled. Simple. This ensures that you use the lifeline with prudence again.

    – As for the other crap that happens on the field – things that weren’t called or appealed, will also go through the post game analysis and handed severe punishments if found guilty.

    • 86ed
      October 9, 2013

      Your suggestions make perfect sense and ought to have been implemented years ago. But they weren’t and never will.
      It’s just easier to use the old ref’s fault excuse to justify a loss. We complain about a penalty not give but ignore a disallowed goal.
      Remember when Wenger said Arsenal lost to Barca only because of the red card? How easy was it for him to use that excuse to paper over the fact that his team had no shots on goal in the entire game? That’s why we need arbritrary and indipended refs, preferably no-nonsense American refs like the ones you see in the NFL, with all the backing of modern technology.

      As I said, this won’t happen precissely big teams, who on average get the most favourable calls, won’t allow it. Even some fans won’t have it.

      • October 9, 2013

        I like the suggestions. They seem easy to implement. Video technology would also be an admission that the game moves too fast sometimes for human view, but it does. To think that the game has JUST only now started using a goal line official is absurd. The reliance on human technology is just one more sign of a silly, old-school mentality that in my opinion, does everything from keep women from taking part in the big-time leagues in meaningful ways, to getting players hurt as too many teams still don’t rely on modern training methods.

        Eschewing technology is just another example.

        • October 9, 2013

          I have been making the case for using video technology for years now. Offside is another good example of where it can (should!) be used.

          • Jim
            October 9, 2013

            I agree it would be useful although I understood one of the issues to be that you needed to have the technology available for all the teams in the competition otherwise you risk penalising those who are on TV all the time.

        • October 9, 2013

          But Jim, the technology is available for all the teams in the competition. All games are recorded, after all.

    • Messiah10
      October 9, 2013

      The problem with your suggestion about video technology is this: What should happen when there is no call? Neymar was fouled 3 times in the box and the ref didn’t make a call. You can’t challenge a call that isn’t made. I’m not in favor of video technology. I am in favor of goal line technology and retroactive punishment for either calls made or not made. This whole thing about the ref seeing it so no retroactive punishment can be taken is hogwash.

      • October 9, 2013

        Simple. Plays in the box undergo automatic review. In American football, scoring plays undergo automatic review at certain points in the game. There aren’t that many contested calls in the box during a match. And there again, it’s either a penalty for a defender, or a red card/suspension for a dive.

        An assistant can dash over and look at the video while everyone is running around screaming. Would be plenty of time, and wouldn’t take long.

        But the options are to either allow FULL technological ingress, or continue to old-school it and rely on human critters, it seems to me. Because once it’s in for some stuff …

      • October 9, 2013

        messiah10, my suggestions are not the end to end solution, but a step that can be taken, like I say, towards ultimately the complete set of rules that make the game fair, entertaining and non disruptive. To start with, contest only the decisions that are made, so that atleast the wrong set of calls are rectified. A penalty not given should be up for appeal though as its a biggie.

  19. Tebzat
    October 9, 2013

    Im against video technology. The is a reason why soccer is still the best sport in the world,its the only major sport that doesnt use video technology.With soccer u never know whats going to happen. Because of the stop-start that will happen ,ball playing teams will suffer especially us. Without rhythm our football will be lacking

    • 86ed
      October 10, 2013

      So what you’re saying is that you’re against video technology because is mightn’t suit the team you support?

      I don’t think it’s a good argument, but perhaps I’m misunderstanding you.

    • barca96
      October 10, 2013

      It is to me the best to play but not the best to watch simply because there are too many injustices going around in the game.

      I watch NBA and if my team loses, I am fine with it because it is what it is, they lost, fairly. Same goes for badminton, tennis, MotoGP, track and field, F1, etc.

      But with football there are too many things going on in the game that should’ve influenced the game but did not. That’s not fun to me. It is frustrating when your team loses but even more when they lose because of incorrect decision (s).

      With soccer u never know whats going to happen

      Isn’t it the same with every sport or everything in life for that matter? We never know what’s going to happen.

      As for the rhythm, please take note how long the protests usually lasts.. Instead of wasting valuable time rolling on the ground or protesting to the referee, they could’ve come to the conclusion already way before they are done arguing when most of them didn’t even see the incident properly to come to a conclusion.

  20. simple_barcafan
    October 10, 2013

    The video technology might have some flaws too..Even if video replays are shown. there is no guarantee that every referee will make the same conclusion. They might each interpret it their own way. what if the referee on the field doesn’t agree with the referee who has access to the replay? Do we then have a system that the referee with the video can over ride any decision the the on field referee makes? Will the referees agree for such a thing?

    Video replays are present in sports where there is a clear definition of a foul/penalty (tennis, american football, cricket). In football fouls are not “standardized” across the globe.

    That said, it will help in reducing most of the ills of cheating existing in the game today…

  21. October 10, 2013

    Iniesta said something very interesting about his negotiations. Column by Dermot Corrigan over at ESPN:


    There is no question of him staying, to be clear:

    “The renewal is not something which concerns me from day to day,” Iniesta said. “I do not care about being in second, third, or fourth place at Barca. I just want to feel the same from the club’s side, as what I feel for Barca.

    “There are other things more important than money. If I had the intention to leave I would let my contract run down, but I do not want that. When the moment to renew arrives, it will arrive.

    “If two people want to understand each other there is no problem. I do not like to call it ‘negotiations’; Barca is my family. You never sort these things out in just two months.”

    So is he saying Barça is my family but its father sucks, or is there other stuff related to this “feeling.” Rosell and the Trolls think that it’s all about money, that by giving him more of it, he will be happy. That clearly isn’t the case. It’s the care and feeding of a club’s stars that marketing/money people often fall short at taking care of.

    • October 10, 2013

      That’s a very interesting set of comments. If for whatever reason either Iniesta or Xavi does not retire at Barca, I will never forgive Rosell.

  22. October 10, 2013

    Meanwhile, 6 more weeks out for Jordi Alba. He had problems during the rehab process.

    There was a training match today against a Tercera club. Puyol and Bartra were the CBs, Mascherano the pivote. Messi sat it out, along with Cuenca and obviously, Alba.

    • October 10, 2013

      6 more weeks, which leads to the inevitable “will Adriano break his personal record and stay healthy for two months?”

      • Serena Andre
        October 10, 2013

        Adriano actually already broke his personal record by starting 6 matches in a row. Time to keep our fingers crossed. I am dreading this international break. Which brings me to Neymar, who is also currently injured. It looks like it’s not that serious, but he is a doubt for the match against South Korea on Saturday.

    • barca96
      October 10, 2013

      Why don’t you share the result? It’s 4-1 btw against St Andreu.

      What if Adriano gets injured, who’s going to play LB?

  23. 86ed
    October 10, 2013

    Refs’d automatically review every suspicious activity in the box.
    Otherwise both teams would be handed say 2 challenges each. If one team feels a decision went against them (an offside goal, for example) they can challenge. The ruling on the pitch stands unless it can be decisively proven to have been an incorrect call.

    For diving: retroactive punishment, but not for the guilty player. The team is docked 3 points automatically if a player is found out to have conned the ref to gain the upper hand via a red card, like what Fabregas did vs Sevilla last year, or a penalty. All the other players would have to pay a fine, except the culpable player. That way he will be cast out. For violent play: likewise, but more severe. 6 points docked next time Pepe does something stupid.

    This might be like handing out a $50k fine for a parking ticket, but our troubles would be over very quickly. The club brass themselves would cut that crap out immediately.
    Right now the reward for conning the ref is far higher than the punishment for it. Make the clubs responsible instead.

  24. October 11, 2013

    Pretty marvelous piece from Zonal Marking on Martino so far:


    A very relevant portion:

    However, Vilanova’s health concerns also have to be considered when analysing that thrashing. Football is very good at remembering those in unfortunate situations with messages on t-shirts or minutes of applause, but it was surprising how little Vilanova’s three-month absence was mentioned in the aftermath of the Bayern defeat. Maybe that was because his health concerns are far more serious than its impact upon a game of football – and he had, of course, returned to the bench by the time of the semi-final.

    However, a club going without their manager for such a significant period of time is a huge, huge setback – a loss of intensity and focus is inevitable, especially because Jordi Roura (who, it must be said, didn’t appear to want the job of first-team coach) seemed such an incapable deputy. Bayern’s performance shouldn’t be downgraded, but perhaps we can consider the result an anomaly from Barca’s perspective: they aren’t truly seven goals behind the European champions. Nevertheless, football clubs must learn lessons from such heavy defeats, and Barcelona’s tactics needed to vary.

    And the awesome Messi quote:

    “There will be days when it’s better to have the ball and move it around the park, and others when it will be better to park the bus and play for the counter-attack.”

  25. October 11, 2013

    Sique Rodriguez of Cadena SER is reporting that we have a deal for next season with Ter Stegen, to replace Valdes.

    I would be a lot more skeptical were it MD or Sport, but Cadena SER is on the case, and have broken a lot of stuff, including Krkic to Ajax and Guardiola to Bayern, among others.

    His fee is 8m.

  26. October 11, 2013

    Great conversation.

    I really believe that the people we should focus on punishing are the officials not the players. The players will not stop embellishing or committing excessive physical actions, not when it is very often the difference between 3 points, or even worse, a knock-out champion’s league match, and, moreover, I can’t really fault them for it.

    Officiating across all leagues needs to be objectively analyzed post-match, and officials who make errors need to be penalized. I can’t imagine any other way without changing the nature of football, especially one’s that change the way time functions in the game. I, personally, like the randomness of officiating, but the lack of objectivity (in officiating) really perturbs me.

    • October 11, 2013

      Professional officials for the Liga would be a huge step in the right direction. It strikes me that when a league is played at the highest level, with by clubs and athletes worth millions and millions of dollars, they deserve something more than what the weekend pub league has … a guy who is something else for a day job, and straps on his whistle for the weekend.

      • October 12, 2013

        And get very well paid for doing it. Depending on the match, between 3,000 & 5,000 Euros per game.

        • October 12, 2013

          In Spain the referee gets around 5000-6000€ per game, assistant refs get around 2000€per game. it’s the most in Europe and should be more than enough to be their main job, but most of the referees have other jobs as well besides refereeing. It’s a fair point to have professional officials and to be their main job.

  27. Laurentiu88
    October 11, 2013

    i think trying to have very good referees is a daunting task already lets not start listening to anything jm says now …

    if i get the arg right, you r stating that what some of our players more often then not do is just a little over dramatization by which the game physicality is reduced. this is not cheating but simply a rather fairer equilibrium, since there is nothing that defines this game as something that should have x much contact as apposed to y… what the English media generally takes wrong is to thing their way is the only way the game must be played. i suppose one can also add, to the distinction previously made, that there are many types of fouls that players commit, and maybe could be considered cheating, if we are to think from the game’s idea… like a tactical foul, which are today praised, systemic fouls to take out one key player, systemic fouls by a whole team used as a game strategy (jm would know some examples here) and so on.

    • October 11, 2013

      Actually, I am really just asking a question: how can we fix this stuff. I do that by using examples and playing devil’s advocate.

      But yes, prima facie, exaggeration is as valid a tactic as kicking. Both contravene the spirit of sportsmanship (such as it is) of the game. Both being used, however, does equalize the playing field. Iniesta can’t kick Pepe as hard as Pepe can kick him. But he can fall down and scream when he is kicked, thus getting the ref to stop the kicking.

  28. October 11, 2013

    Truehoop on ESPN had a really good sequence of articles on ‘flopping’ in basketball, their equivalent of diving. They made a really strong case that it would be possible for off site review without constantly stopping the game. The problem is that an individual foul or flop call in basketball carries less weight, since you’re never a man down when someone fouls out (you just can’t make that a consequence in a 5v5 game). So if the call comes in a possession or two later it’s not a problem. In football, something like that would end up being hugely controversial. And I certainly wouldn’t trust RFEF to not screw that up. Maybe UEFA could manage it in CL though it’s pretty clear they have no inclination to do something like that.

    I think the point about normalizing what a foul is across all referees and situations is a point well taken though. This is the most frustrating thing to me, more than diving. It’s like every ref makes their own judgement calls not just based on their own scale, but also based on the context of the game. That’s just absurd to me. That’s why this paragraph made me happy:

    “A Howard Webb foul isn’t an Undiamo Mallenco foul isn’t a Muniz Fernandez foul. So send ALL the refs to the same school, teach them all EXACTLY what a foul is, and make it clear that grounds for interpretation and judgment have been removed.”

    I think the game sorely needs this!

    • October 11, 2013

      The problem with that is that it is impossible to remove the grounds for interpretation.

      For example, two people can watch the same slow-motion replay of an incident and disagree on whether the player dived or was fouled. Or whether he went down too easily upon the first contact. Whether the player dived or simply lost his balance. Whether he lost his balance because of contact or because he tried to avoid a challenge. Whether he lost his balance avoiding a challenge that would have been a foul had the player not avoided it. And so on… How do you not interpret situations like that?

  29. Messiah10
    October 11, 2013

    There’s an atricle on Sky Sports that is suggesting Barca are interested in River Plate’s Eder Balanta. He’s a 20 year old who can play center back or left back. Inter Milan tabled him an offer after watching him play 5 times. He’s a Columbian and was quoted saying, “As far as I know, there hasn’t been a Columbian playing for Barcelona. I would be the first one in the history of the club.” “If it’s true, I would be very proud. If it’s not, I will try to keep doing things like I have done up until now.”

    • October 11, 2013

      Yeah, this rumor has been floating around for a month or so now. River Plate supposedly prices him at 15M.

  30. KEVpitt
    October 11, 2013

    Just a random thought! Hindsight is sometimes the best way to view circumstances. After all the talk about Thiago and the club doom after he left, it turned out pretty Ok! He is injured and his dream of playing for Spain in 2014 is diminished. FCB seems to be prospering under TATA, the Club is bigger than any player systems survive, personnel changes though!

    • October 11, 2013

      Thiago will be fine. And frankly, I think he might have made the right decision with the Neymar arrival, if you look at what is happening with the lineup. Fabregas being forced more to midfield, Iniesta role changing because the left side now has a viable attacking force without having to have him over there, raising hell, etc. It’s complex. But moving to Bayern with a coach who wanted him and had a definite role for him is the move that he chose. Tough luck with the injury, but the season is long. He should be okay.

      In La Masia, we have a couple of options, both of who are more Xavi-like for those who made that opposite claim about Thiago. Denis Suarez has first-team promotion written into his contract for next season, and expect also at that time to start seeing some of Sergi Samper making spots with the first team.

      I think we’re in good shape there. Also next season, the club will have to make decisions about Deulofeu and Rafinha, don’t forget, and Dongou will be another year closer to being ready.

      Selection headaches, anyone?

  31. Dracko
    October 11, 2013

    Nice article I must commend. And very timely.

    It’s always a thin line beween ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ i remenber in a class when one of my lecturers talking on equity said it’s always difficult to judge because you cant feel, hear or experience exactly what went down. It’s always inference.

    Its easy to call a player a diver because you are not the one seeing a chiropractor. These kicks are painful. And i dont believe anyone is paid to beat or get beaten up in the name of football. I ‘d have said that sounds more like WWF. That’s why Messi takes such kicks personal and sometimes refuses to shake hands with the bullies.

    I see what such Kicks turned El Nino into and i wholeheartily agree with Busi that Diving (in the form of embellishment) is playing smart. If Barca can play with discipline why cant they?

    I agree that football is an emotional and passionate game. Some kind of plays like Neymars’ dribbles and Messi’s runs could be provoking and infuriating, but as professionals it should have been understood by these players that such are the beautiful aspects of the sport.

    Personally, as much as I ‘d hate to sound like ‘am spinning off some conspiratory theory web around Liga Refs handling of Neymar, it does quite strike me as rather obvious how much he has been suffering from Liga Refreeing decisions.

    Neymar started this season with a deck of yellow cards. Refs were quick to book him for silly fouls while overlooking the life threatening challenges on him.

    I have seen him assaulted more than any player this season. Funny enough the culprits go free while the Refs turn a blind eye. A Malaga player was going to physically beat him up when Barca faced Malaga earlier yet he went free…

    Perhaps, just perhaps there is still traits of racism hovering somewhere in the equation… I wouldnt know for a fact.

    *Neymar has had many wrong offside calls where replays clearly reveal he was onside.
    *Neymar has had atleast two of his goals disqualified for such reason.
    *Neymar has been denied Ref protection where it was apparently warranted.
    *Neymar has been denied penalty calls and most of his offenders played on with impunity… No red card calls.

    I want to argue in favour of these La liga Refs. Maybe they actually meant no harm. Maybe they were in their own opinion making fair calls, but I just cant. I see this sport as the survival of the fittest. So therefore Neymar has had to learn to survive.

    Kicking back at these bullies to show he was a little tough didnt work since he ends up being carded. So what does he do? He embellishes to force the Refs to do their job.

    The point driving question to me should always be was a foul commited or not? E.g did Brown kick Ney or not? These are for Refs to decide. I believe they are stationed on-pitch because these fouls are 99% guaranteed to occur.
    And the Refs are being paid to make the right calls, if they opt not to, they should be sanctioned.

    • October 11, 2013

      I think that Liga refs are just crap. And, like a player, I would imagine that they are extra-alert for the new guy. Without question Neymar has a repuration, as Jim and others have noted, and I would also imagine that a ref is very conscious of thinking that he doesn’t want to get hoodwinked by that young Brazilian superstar.

      So I think it’s just garden-variety incompetence, rather than anything more sinister.

      As for the offside calls, Neymar’s first step is absurd. Note how Messi gives himself more of a cushion when playing off the shoulder of the defense, for that same reason. Pedro sometimes forgets, and gets a wrong offside call or two to remind him.

      Standards of refereeing are in the toilet in the Liga. And aside from paying lip service to the notion that things need to improve, no real steps are being taken to fix matters. So players will keep getting kicked, and simulating and exaggerating. Vicious circle.

      • October 12, 2013

        Call me a cule, but I think they are biased.

        Absolutely agree with you that the games should be called by professionals. It is absolutely ridiculous that in a league where players get bought and sold for millions of dollars the actual results of the matches are influenced by amateurs.

        They should get minimum wage with hefty performance-related bonuses.

  32. G6O
    October 12, 2013

    I don’t know if anyone is watching Brazil’s game but but Neymar was sent to the ground 5 times in the first 15 minutes alone…

    • G6O
      October 12, 2013

      10 fouls for the first half in total… And a nice goal

  33. October 12, 2013

    Watching Brazil/South Korea now. If I was Neymar, I would start falling down as soon as I got off the bus. Physical play is one thing, but that was just crazy.

    • October 12, 2013

      Yeah ridiculous. And yet still there’s an article on espn complaining about Neymar diving in this game.

      • October 12, 2013

        ESPNFC is almost as bad as ESPN NBA is good. They are like polar opposites in terms of articles. One has all puff pieces and one has a good amount of real analysis.

        • October 12, 2013

          Really? As for as Liga columns go they don’t get any better than Phil Ball’s…

          • October 13, 2013

            They have some really good guest columns, and sometimes some really interesting pieces. But almost all of their regular stories are some combination of rumor-mongering, or just random opinions and comparisons without any analysis or support. I just looked through their front page, and fully half of the stories on there are like this, most by their regular staff writers. By comparison on this volunteer run site, every article has some good analysis. I guess that’s the good part about not having writing deadlines to meet.

  34. zashaw
    October 12, 2013

    OT, for those in the USA: Beinsportplay is showing Barca B’s game tomorrow against Deportivo live at 6am Sunday (tomorrow), for those who have it and are up that early (Alas, not me on either count). Also, Beinsport espanol is showing the game at 3pm. Barca’s web site has written a preview of the game:
    (BTW, for Canadians, the commentators said last week that there’s a promo code to allow viewing of Beinsportplay through December or something like that.)

  35. KEVINO17
    October 12, 2013

    Chile-Columbia was a truly amazing game. Alexis showed he’s really world class when given a free hand. Though he’s not really a winger. I think he much prefers tucking in on the right so that when defenders try to close him down, he can spin past them and dribble at the centre-backs.

    • October 12, 2013

      I only watched the first half, where Alexis was both amazing and everywhere. I was pretty shocked when I saw the scoreline.

  36. psalmuel
    October 13, 2013

    What Mou has achieved with this, ‘NEYMAR IS A DIVER’ CAMPAIGN is that he has ‘poisoned’ referees’ minds towards Neymar. Now, every referee officiating our matches, will be having a hard time making calls on fouls, against Neymar especially in big games. Oh! Neymar is a diver, he probably would have dived there,no foul! Play on!. This is not a good thing.

    • Jim
      October 13, 2013

      I’m not sure. There’s no doubt that Neymar is getting genuinely fouled most of the time because he commits defenders by running at them. There’s nobody in the game doesn’t understand Mourinho’s relationship with Barca and why he is saying these things. For me, if he gets on with the game without the histrionics the pendulum will swing back pretty quickly to admiring his skills.

      A great opportunity will present itself in the Clasico. He is going to get lumps kicked out of him. If he gets up and gets on with the game he will get the ref more on his side and will also severely get under the skins of Arbeloa, Ramos, Khedira et al who will hate someone going past them with ease. Not easy to do but would be worth it, imo.

      • October 13, 2013

        I still say the answer is don’t kick him. Doesn’t matter if he runs at a defender with the ball. That’s what attackers do. You run directly at him, forcing the defender to make a decision, hopefully the wrong one.

        I understand that people want to blame the victim, but it wasn’t Neymar’s fault he got hammered in yesterday’s game. “Don’t be so tricky, and stop running at the defenders,” isn’t an answer. That’s his game, as it is with Messi and Iniesta.

        Don’t kick him. In the match yesterday he got up and “got on with it,” man style. He still got kicked. He dealt with very physical play, such as shoulder to shoulder, and stayed up. Then it started getting worse, and he went to ground a few times to remind the ref that yes, he was still getting kicked. And the ref stopped it. Voila.

        I don’t reckon Neymar cares about impressing anyone, or much else beyond stopping his man from kicking him. Going to ground is as effective for him as it is for the other players who do it. As for any kind of a reputation, that doesn’t wash with me. A foul is a foul. Messi has a rep for staying up. He doesn’t get calls either.

        Liga refs are crap. But that doesn’t absolve them from the responsibility of ajudicating the match fairly.

        • October 13, 2013

          But Kxevin, how come no one makes any noise about this?
          How can it be that a league that wants to be the best in the world, with the best players, have such crap refs? How is it that teams like Barca haven’t spoken out about calling for professional refs instead of part time amateurs making big calls? Make no mistake, the ref won the CL for inter by hand holding them to the final and the refs won the league for EE in 11-12. People keep harping on about how barca benefits from ref decisions while i am convinced that we’ve suffered more than any other due to shitty calls and non calls.

          • Peter
            October 13, 2013

            The Spanish Ref federation is not responsible to anyone. IIRC it’s currently chaired by an ex-ref who once declared that Cruyff had to wear brown pants every time he took the Dream Team to Bernabeu.

            The Spanish refs are for all intents and purposes untouchable unless the cries become too loud, which is when they push one of their own off the edge of the iceberg – or simply bury them in Segunda Division for a season.

        • Jim
          October 13, 2013

          I’m not blaming the victim for getting kicked and I’m not suggesting that people should kick Neymar. I’m talking about when they kick him because , like Messi, going past people puts you in line for a kicking. Not much point in us saying they shouldn’t kick him ( worth pointing out that there’ll be some genuine tackles where defenders are just fooled by him as well). It has happened to all ball players through the ages and I would argue there is more protection for ball players now than at any time ( that would be an interesting discussion point, though).

          I’m more concerned with him getting the calls he deserves. I think Messi does get a fair amount of calls and protection from refs and I do feel a reputation can lead to no call ( possibly demonstrated in our last match although I wasn’t convinced by the last one) . The ref in the upcoming Clasico is going to have to make some important calls. I’d rather Neymar wasn’t going into it with any doubt over his honesty, that’s all, when the RM players are standing over him claiming he’s dived as they undoubtedly will.

          • October 13, 2013

            Cruijff is quoted in (I think) SPORT as saying:

            Neymar is more easily stopped than Messi, because he is taller, the logic being that Messi’s low center of gravity makes it harder for defenders to tackle him / push him off the ball.

            He also said that skinny guys like himself used to get less protection from the referees because games weren’t televised. When they played away the local press would simply leave all the non-calls unmentioned, so nobody would ever know about it.

          • Jim
            October 13, 2013

            That seems reasonable although I think I remember some tasty tackles on Cruyff and him just getting on with it. I do think that before the tackle from behind was outlawed things were much worse for ball players. I still love watching “Chopper” Harris attempting to cut George Best in two and Best waltzing through it to score.

            I also think Neymar’s style is more akin to Iniesta who shows the opponent the ball then uses tight control to take it away. That makes contact more likely. At the moment because of his speed it’s pretty hard to lay a glove on Messi who doesn’t actually dribble in the strictest sense as much as Neymar.

          • October 13, 2013

            There was video of the Cruijff blathering. Suffice it to say by my choice of modifier, I don’t buy it.

            I think the difference is in how they are choosing to react to fouls, and the kinds of fouls that they are getting. When Messi gets the kinds of fouls that Neymar gets, he usually does go down, as well. Messi gets a lot of shoulder to shoulder or thigh to thigh contact, which he can more easily deal with. But notice how well Neymar dealt with that same kind of contact in the second half of the Celtic match, once they stopped going for his lower legs and ankles. Same vs Korea.

            If you take a player’s ankles, he is going down. It’s a simple trip. It’s the same with Sanchez, who a lot of people also accuse of going down easily. Same situation where he takes on a defender directly, with a combination of feinting and ball skill. If he gets by, they often just take his legs out. Bang. He’s down.

            I do think that Messi is more stable, more because of the strength in his legs than any height difference compared to Neymar.

            To Jim, I don’t think that Neymar is ever going to get the calls that he deserves, just like Messi. In part because a match would be so disrupted with foul calls, that it would actually work to the detriment of Barça, but also because I honestly think that Neymar won’t start being treated fairly for another season or two. Right now, he’s the hot shit, expensive transfer to the big club. There is a lot of “I’ll show him,” both on the pitch and (sadly) from behind the whistle.

  37. Dracko
    October 13, 2013

    Sorry Jim,
    but I think ‘ur take on this Neymar Diving issue is a little too unfair. Sounds like you are arguing from a moralist point of view, yet i am forced to wonder if you ‘re deliberately overlooking the fact that fouling him in the first place is equally morally wrong. You seem to be trying to posit that his exaggerating the impact of the kicks dished out to him is wrong while deliberately choosing to forget that it was wrong for the opponents to kick him too… As a player he came to win howbeit fairplay, he is paid to be armed with a deck of tricks just like those kicking him, he is not going to say please defenders stop kicking me or run to convince the refree he has been kicked everytime he is bullied. These defenders dealed their hands and he dealt his. All is fair in war except that he never started the war (and this was meant to be a sport for crying out loud). Even in murder trials self defense is an acceptable defence plea. Perhaps you feel the ‘turn the other cheek’ rule should apply but i still argue that atleast he has not kicked back he has been fair.

    Tactically and logically embellishing a foul is sound. In as much as a foul hasnt been fabricated. Morally embellishing a foul is sound also. Call it trickery or deciet but i ‘d simply call it drawing the attention of the Ref to a foul. Yes morally his exaggeation is sound because like in questions of legality, morality accepts ‘intent’ and ‘motive’ as admissible grounds to judge an action. Which further testifies to why ‘Morality’ is subjective: in the sense that what is right to one person may not sound right to another. Morality as a concept is elusive and utopian. But i ‘d prefer to say where the rules of engagement are clearly spelt in black and white, you have no right to foul a player then demand fair play of him.

    Therefore as a fan if you ‘re holding his tactical self defense against him on moral grounds i ‘ll say you ‘re being un-realistic and unfair since from all indications all he intended doing was to call the attention of the Ref to his being kicked at with his so-called trickery labelled acion.

    • Jim
      October 13, 2013

      Hi Dracko – and welcome if you haven’t been posting here before. Don’t think I’ve seen your name. Apologies if you have.

      Some quick thoughts as I’ve probably taken up too much space with my thoughts already.

      First, I’m not defending anybody kicking or fouling Neymar. It’s wrong and should be punished appropriately. My beef is with a player feigning or exaggerating hurt or injury to affect a referee’s handling of a situation. If a player pretends he is hurt more than he is it is cheating plain and simple. That for me is a moral issue. However, on a practical level, we have to leave it to the ref. If we don’t then it leaves it open for any player who feels he has been fouled to fall to the ground and writhe about whether he has been or not.

      I’m going to find it really interesting in the next few weeks to hear how people respond once RM come to town with their diving and cheating. Anyone supporting one of our players exaggerating has no complaint presumably with others being given free license to do the same.

      • October 13, 2013

        My problem with RM players diving and exagerrating is that they are the ones kicking lumps out of our players to begin with.

        • Jim
          October 13, 2013

          Yup, but it’s either acceptable as a practice or it’s not 🙂

          That’s the problem with letting players decide whether they’re entitled to play act …

      • October 13, 2013

        Anyone supporting one of our players exaggerating has no complaint presumably with others being given free license to do the same.

        First off, I agree. But I do wonder if you don’t mistake suggesting that a tit-for-tat is the same as advocacy. Anytime something happens to attempt to deceive the ref, whether embellishment or whatever, runs counter to the spirit of the game. But so does kicking, despite what manly man English Way football proponents might suggest.

        So if one is going to happen, it should follow that the other would happen, to prevent one from happening … or something.

        Diving is crappy. My views on it, and suggested penalties, are above. But exaggeration is another matter, and a complex one, at that. If Neymar goes charging at a defender and, shoulder to shoulder, the defender muscles him off the ball, rock on. If Neymar gets past a defender who has pretty much kicked him each and every previous time they have clashed, and the defender takes his legs out, is writhing about in an effort to make the kicking stop a legitimate (note: no advocacy) response to that situation?

        That’s the question.

        If Ronaldo gets a foul and acts as though he has been shot until the ref awards the free kick, okay. Next time, don’t kick him. But if a defender comes near him to make the tackle, then pulls his leg away and nonetheless, Ronaldo flies through the air and proceeds to roll all the way to Valencia, screaming all the while, that’s diving.

        But if exaggeration to call attention to being kicked is a moral issue, why isn’t the act of kicking also a moral issue, as much cheating as the exaggeration? That is the nuance that fascinates me, even if my beloved club wasn’t populated by little people.

  38. Jim
    October 13, 2013

    Of course intentional kicking is wrong. I’ve never said anything different. I’m not sure why you mock a supposed English view on football as first of all I’ve never heard them defend intentional kicking and secondly being Scottish I don’t feel any affinity with them.

    Above is the heart of the problem with that line of argument, Kxevin. Who decides if they were genuinely fouled or not? If they genuinely feel they were fouled does it validate their actions or is it only if we agree that they were fouled ?

    • Jim
      October 13, 2013

      Sorry, folks, I’m on my October school holidays and have too much time to spend on this blog at the moment. 🙂

    • October 13, 2013

      I wouldn’t say “mocking” is the best word, but the English football commentators and supporters are the principal ones that go on acting as if it’s a characteristic of the English game to get hit by a road grader, get up and keep playing.

      If you felt lumped in by the “manly man proponents” bit, that wasn’t anything that I did. It’s difficult to have a discussion if everything becomes personal.

      None of which changes the fact that think the “manly man” school is rife with hypocrisy, from Mourinho starting his “campaign” to Jack Wilshere talking about how tackling hard is a key part of the English game — the same player who when fouled, acts as if someone killed his puppy.

      Match commentators, when a player is fouled, are quick to say “There wasn’t much in that,” and if you give those same commentators a Barça Champions League match, they are quick to start with our players “making a meal” of fouls, etc.

      I do think there is plenty of evidence present for someone who wants to scoff at this hairy-chested notion of football that exists, with its roots in England.

      As for who decides if a player was genuinely fouled or not, that is the job of the official. We usually see it in the replay of the offense.

      As regards validation, I would suppose that if a player exaggerates, and the next time down the pitch he does NOT get kicked, I reckon he would think that it validates his action. My view would be that the game is now more fair. Or is it, as I mention above? Is a talent gap fair?

      American hockey used to have the goon, a player who couldn’t really skate all that well, and didn’t score goals. But he would whack the hell out of an opposing player into the boards, and when it was fight time, he was your man. Do players like that need to work, too? Good question, and one pertinent to the overall nature of this discussion.

      • G6O
        October 13, 2013

        It is very instructive to watch some English football from the before the creation of the EPL. It’s some really really brutal stuff, and is completely tolerated by the refs – what are straight red offenses these days were routinely not even given yellows.

        The amazing thing is that they indeed got up and played through it, except, of course, in the cases when they were sent to the hospital instead.

        But there was a big difference between then and now and it is that the fitness level and the speed of the game were not significantly greater than what amateur football is today. So the collisions were happening at much lower speed and with a fraction of the force they are today. They were also happening on muddy pitches that allowed one to fly in the air after a foul rather than get his leg stuck in the grass (football shows were designed differently and were also much less prone to getting stuck in the grass back then). If the same kind of game was played today there would be serious injuries almost every game. Obviously there are no hard stats on this, but anecdotally, every brutal challenge in the EPL these days (of which there are still many more than anywhere else) ends up being replayed endlessly so we do have an idea of how many of them there – a few dozens in total in a whole season. Of those at least a few end up in serious injuries. But there used to be on average more than one of those every game back in the days and they were not getting injured more often.

        It’s really the same thing that happened with American football (and also rugby) – it was always a brutal game, but with time players have gotten so much bigger and stronger than they used to be that now you have to be thankful for every game you get out of without an injury.

        • Jim
          October 14, 2013

          Fair points , G60. As you say I don’t think we still get the worst excesses of those days. Any mis timed tackle made at speed will often result in a straight red these days so these worst ones don’t happen. The tackle from behind has largely gone and it was one of the worst as you didn’t see it coming.

          With Neymar and Iniesta ( I didn’t see the Korea game ) these tend to be wriggling between two players or where they use tight control from a slower base so I don’t think these are generally as harmful. I’ve certainly in my long and completely unillustrious career never been hurt by anyone clicking my heels although it does always result in you falling.

  39. Gwin
    October 13, 2013

    Well, I think I understand you now. Celtic being a team from Scotland explains it quite adequately.

    • Jim
      October 13, 2013

      Now I’m chilled at the moment so maybe a word of explanation is in order.

      If, like me, you come from a smaller town in Scotland that watches every Saturday most of its adult football supporting population departing on buses to Parkhead or Ibrox ( I remember getting quite upset as a very small boy and crying to my dad about why they didn’t support our team ) and if when they come to your town they take over your season ticket seats and the police will hound you but are scared to take on those numbers or if you had to listen to the sectarian chanting emanating from both then you would understand the sentiments we feel towards the big two. I’ve been to a European night at Celtic park and was awestruck by the atmosphere – can’t help that, you would be too. Doesn’t mean I have any time for them.

      So can we stop assuming that you know what’s going on in my mind ? What I’ve written are my views, right or wrong and there is certainly no subtext of support for Celtic.

        • Jim
          October 13, 2013

          Sorry, Gwin. On re-reading I hope that didn’t come over too strongly.

          • October 13, 2013

            Not for me, Jim. I was going to leap to your defense, but you did so quite well.

  40. lea_terzi
    October 13, 2013

    Neymar’s highlights against South Korea are physically painful to watch. He gets kicked on every single play, no cards are shown, and he just gets on with it. Scores from a freekick and makes peace with the main thug, too. This is just wrong on so many levels – hurting someone so young and small, an apparently nice guy too, potentially shortening a brilliant footballing career, depriving us of moments of beauty and magic. What’s Ney to do? Can’t fight back (cards), can’t draw ref’s attention to the foul (labeled a diver). He can talk, though:

    Neymar: “South Korean players making many fouls? Fouls are like a girlfriend I’m carrying with me everywhere I go… (smiles)” [via sport]

    • October 13, 2013

      That is an interesting point, and question. To many, he is supposed to get up and get on with it, and let the officials sort it out. But I think that if a player doesn’t do something, the fouls get harder and more aggressive, and injury is risked.

      Recall the Ujfalusi dive into Messi’s ankle. That match was a physical, out of control mess, if I recall correctly. The battle was bitter and tempers were heating up. The ref was “letting them play,” so to speak, and it could well be argued that one consequence was a cantaloupe-sized ankle for Messi.

    • G6O
      October 13, 2013

      Of the 12 fouls he suffered there were perhaps 5, which were soft (they were still fouls but there was not a lot of force applied). But the others were some serious kicking that hurts. Especially there was one at the very end of the half after he scored in which the South Korea player lunged with his whole body and got his boot with the studs forward – that was extremely dangerous because many many legs have been broken that way over the years, and Neymar was lucky that he jumped before contact was made.

      There is a serious danger this is not going end well.

      Fortunately for him, he is light and small, which means he ends up in the air without serious damage a lot more often than a bigger player suffering the same treatment would. But you can’t bet on that to keep him from a serious injury forever.

    • lea_terzi
      October 14, 2013

      There is also a question of meaningless Asian friendlies against teams that kick the hell out of international superstars in a misguided bid to show their manliness and avoid embarrassment in front of their crowd. Games that don’t tell you much about team cohesiveness and preparation, or individual players’ quality, since it’s all an endless foulfest. Brazilian federation (and Rosell in preseason) trying to make a quick buck, jet lag and knocks to their prized assets be damned.

      • barca96
        October 14, 2013

        I didn’t watch the match. Was the referee (s) views always blocked for him not to see those tackles?

        Refereeing issues seems to be the first step at addressing this whole issue.

        I wouldn’t have advised Neymar to go down to get the referee’s attention. I would’ve advised him to speak to the referee during a stop (out or free kick or injury).

      • G6O
        October 15, 2013

        I was about to scream when I first saw the schedule – what is the point of scheduling 2 friendlies at the other end of the world in the middle of the season????

        At least have them somewhere in the Americas, where it’s at most 4-6 hours of time difference, not 10-12.

        It can hardly get worse than Seoul and Beijin (I guess that could have had them in Sydney or something, who knows).

        That’s complete disregard for the well-being of the players, who, BTW, actually did look jet lagged during the game itself.

        Now we’re going to get Neymar back in who knows what condition and may have to sit him on the bench on Saturday as a result

  41. October 14, 2013

    After couple of days, managed to look at football news today, and it seems Bale might be having some issue with his lumbar discs. I can only feel sorry for him and even to Real Madrid. It is may be the worst issue that can happen to an athlete.
    Of course, there are athletes who still manage to play (like Higuain), but based on the body and the kind of disc issue, it can be career threatening. Feel really sorry for Bale, and if RM have to spend money on disc treatment for Bale,after the absurd amount they spend, it is a pity for the club too.

    • barca96
      October 14, 2013

      I’m not even sure what that is or how serious that is but if a Cule feels sorry for their arch rival, it must be really bad then. I didn’t know Higuain had issues. He looks perfectly fine.

      • October 14, 2013

        I have disc issues from an accident 12 years ago. My physical fitness state has been quite different ever since. I can still run, exercise and all, but there is a difference. I wont be able to kick a ball anymore. If I use my left leg to shoot, or even to stop a heavy ball, I can have a relapse (I did, when I tried for a lazy kick around, when I thought all was ok). Apparently, I can have a relapse even out of very silly actions, if I am not careful. Just want to say that, disc issues are quite frustrating. Everything I do now, I do with some care on my posture.

        Higuain did have a disc issue, and RM send him to New York for surgery. I think he was out for more than 6 months. I am glad Higuain can still play. But this may not be the case with every body.

  42. barca96
    October 14, 2013


    via Barcastuff;

    Barcelona scouts are following Feyenoord forward Graziano Pelle (28) for a while now, as well as some other players of the Dutch club.

    Did you watch the recent Feyenoord vs Ajax match? The camera kept on showing this guy. I haven’t watched any Feyenoord match for a couple of years and the Eredivisie too. And I couldn’t really hear the commentary because it was noisy in the house. I thought they kept on showing this player face because of his good looks 🙂

    Only a few days later I found out that he is the top scorer and now even Barca is interested in him.

  43. Dracko
    October 15, 2013

    Moralists attimes often strike me as either self-righteous or hippocritical and that’s what Mou’s campaign against Divers have shown him to be.

    There is nothing manly about letting people kick the crap outta you. I used to believe manly was more about ability to fight back. ‘Embellishment’ sounds like a more logical fighting back to me.

    Explains why Luxembourgo and Busi feels it’s playing smart.

    As for Bale, I feel sorry for him but not for EE. What is the essence of Medicals? I want to assume that they at RM knew exactly what they were gettting when signing Bale. He has been injury proned for years. I believe they will sort him out.

    Speaking of Barca’s quest for a traditional ‘9’ do they really need that now? Is’nt our offensive competent enough, and is’nt it more preferable they utilised youth players more rather?

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