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The joy of cheating at football

Anorak Saturday, 8 December 2018
The joy of cheating at footballCheats never prosper – but Maradona went on to win the World Cup after his ‘Hand of God’ moment


We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.” 

How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand. Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or  feel hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.

At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction. 

So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it. 
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