by Walter Broeckx
One of our readers, Adam, wrote a comment a few days ago and it goes like this: “If you truly wish to ascertain blame then you should look in the direction of “Neuer” and “Tevez” true sportsmen who should both receive awards for honesty. All other arguments are a waste of time. We all think football can represent honesty hard work and fair play yet whilst we have dishonest players we need technology to overcome their moral standards. such a shame that we are not talking about how honest Neuer and Tevez are.”
And this is one of the strongest comments I have read in a long time. The era of a team some 100 years ago that deliberately kicked penalties not in the goal when they got one because they assumed that the foul that led to the penalty must have been not deliberate and they didn’t want to take advantage of this, is long gone. But Adam’s remark poses us a few questions in fact and is holding a mirror in front of everyone’s face.
Is there still room in the game for winning fair? It is a question that we can ask ourselves and maybe one that most of us could not answer or dare not to answer. Would we take the title if we know we had cheated on our way to win it? I think if we take a deep look in our heart we would celebrate it and pretend nothing was wrong. And for those who would not celebrate it because we would have cheated I can only take off my hat and take a deep bow and admire that person for it’s integrity. I think I would celebrate it just as if nothing had happened like most of us would. In fact this shows in what a world we live and how we all are. And the fact that even I have to admit that I would sink to that level, like most of us would.
In a perfect world where all sports man would be real sports man Neuer would have stopped playing. He would not take the ball in his arms and pretend nothing was wrong and that the ball did not pass the line. In a perfect world he would have made it clear to the ref that the ball had passed the goal line and that a goal should have been given. But this is not the perfect world and Neuer did what he did and continued the game as if nothing had happened. A reaction that would have been the same for about 99,999999 % of the football players, be them professionals or pub players.
But how would Germany have reacted if Neuer had told the ref it was a goal? Would they have celebrated his honesty? Would they erect a statue somewhere in Germany and give him the highest medal that you can obtain in Germany? I think we all know that the best thing he could do was hide on an island, (why not Robben island as we are in South Africa), and wait a couple of years before coming home. Apart from that one man or woman that has not lost his integrity, no one would give him a round of applause for admitting that it was a goal. I don’t know how well balanced the average football fan in Germany is, but I think it is fair to say he’d better look behind him in the next few years when he is walking on the street.
The press would be all over him and give him all sorts of names. I think foolish would be one of the more acceptable but I can imagine that he would be given names that would go well over the line of what is descent or not. Would he have played another game in the German team? Would his manager tell him to do the same? Would his team mates give him a tap on his shoulder or would they hit him on his nose? I really think that he would walk the path of his predecessor, Enke, and end up alone and with no other option in live than to step out of it.
People call him smart for what he did. And yes, the way our world is running for the moment he did the smartest thing he could do by acting like he did. Any other option would have been suicidal for him. You don’t win trophies for sportsmanship. You don’t win trophies for being an honest man. It only wins you trouble and misery, but no gold medal at the end of the world cup.
At the end of the day we can say that Neuer is not an honest sportsman who is giving the good example. But can we blame him? How much that I would like to blame him for doing what he has done, I think he is just a victim of our modern world and society. We all have our own moral standards we want to live up to. We all can say we want to be fair and honest. We all can say that we do not want to cheat. But at the end of the day we must keep in mind that the pressure we put on ourselves and on football players as they are part of society, deep down inside we know that what he did was what all other players would have done.
The winner takes it all is the way our society is run. I don’t like it but it is just the way that it is for the moment. Constantly we divide the world in winners and losers and we all want to be part of the winning side as the winning is all. I even don’t want to blame money for this one as I think that if I had such a situation on my field with some amateurs playing for a pint after the game, even there the outcome or the acting of the players on that field would be just the same as it was in South Africa.
We can regret this, and I do regret it, but with all the pressure on the players to win at any cost nowadays we will have to learn to live with it and only a total change in the thoughts of a few billion people all over the world could change it in the future. I think I will never live the day that I see a goalkeeper that knows the ball crossed the line turn to the ref and tell him: “Hey ref, the ball crossed the line you must give a goal”.
If we could change the mentality of the players and if they all would become honest it would be great. But we all know the diving, the doing things behind the back, the pulling, the holding, the cheating will not stop because we would wish it to stop. If by some magic spell we could change that it would be great but I don’t think the spell is out there somewhere. It would mean that we don’t need goal line technology, we even wouldn’t need refs any more as all the players would stop after committing a non deliberate foul. But for the moment we will have to do with the diving players, the cheating, the play on even if the ball crossed the line players.
So given that no one has found the honest-players spell, we could bring in some goal line technology. And even if it is just a small step forward to players don’t have to cheat any more, for this case, it would bring some fair play in to the game. Because if the goal starts flashing when the ball is over the line and the player would ignore it on the field he would be a bit ridiculous. And most of them don’t mind that they are known as cheaters but looking like a fool is something they don’t like.
And if you are German, you don’t need to feel attacked by this. I think it could be any other country that would have the same thing happening. You just had the “luck” to have the run of the ball this time around. But one day it will bite you back and maybe you can hope that when that day comes, the goal line technology will be in place and working.
Untold Arsenal, fair as fair, honest as the day is long
Making the Arsenal. 2nd edition. Even more honest. Well mostly.