I don't like cheating, and like all football watchers I particularly don't like cheating when it happens against my team (like this diving **** in today's European Championship qualifier http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMKnOmJOagg). But what I particularly dislike is the attitude of the game's governing bodies towards cheating, and their failure to punish it in any way, thus sending the message "cheating is fine if you do it well". Instant review systems are employed in a variety of other sports in order for matches to be settled by skill, chance and all those other things that make sport interesting, but not by the mistakes of officials.
In top flight televised matches we could surely have an appeals system for contentious decisions without too much problem, and such a system could have been very useful in the case of the diving **** linked to above. But the system should also be used retrospectively after the end of matches. I propose the use of "Proper Sporting Effort" Commissions (the potential for a suitably stigmatising acronym is of course entirely coincidental) who would be tasked with the review of all tapes after games and the distribution of suitable punishments for A) Simple simulation where no contact has been made B) Going down easy (tested by the simple question "would the person have fallen over there if they were being chased by a hungry bear/zombie/father of a groupie?") C) Making deliberate contact with the tackling player where that contact would not have happened if the suspect had continued running normally or taken appropriate avoiding action. I do hope C) could become known as Lambert's Law because of the grievous assault Paul Lambert was subjected to by Jorg Albertz in a 1999 Old Firm game (video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFimrKcF9dQ medical report here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/11/99/battle_of_britain/508731.stm) This particular "dive" left Lambert unconscious and knocked out a tooth or two but of course was punished with the award of a penalty to the offending player (12 years ago now and the memory of the injustice is still fresh).
I leave it up to the authorities to decide what would be appropriate punishment. Admittedly if it were left to me I would probably prescribe something between a year's ban from competitive football and jail time for the afore-mentioned Czech diving ****. And if you'd asked me a few hours ago the sanction could well have been a sight more medieval.
Cheating should not be so handsomely rewarded. It should not be "just part of the game" at any level.
Ben Bradley MP and his expensive education
3 hours ago