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Is it only nasty foreign people who cheat at football?

by Sir Hardly Anyone

That headline is certainly implied via an article in The Athletic recently which reflected on the Atletico Madrid 1-0 defeat of Liverpool last month.  Pesky foreigners; no telling what they get up to.  Can’t trust any of them!

And of course there is nothing new in this.   England as a footballing nation has always been rather anti-foreigners.   The FA, for example, was very late in joining the World Cup, (they did not enter until 1950 in fact, 20 years after it started) and English clubs were slow to join in the European Cup for pretty much the same reasons – at least according to the media of the day.  The referees did not understand the rules of the game was a particular complaint (and indeed how could they, what with them not being English?)  The club’s cheated.  And besides our boys would be given disgusting foreign food which would probably make them ill.

As champions  in 1954–55, Chelsea (having won their first ever title) should have been England’s first representatives in the European Champions’ Cup competition, and they were drawn to play Swedish champions Djurgården in the first round. However, Alan Hardaker, secretary of the Football League, ordered Chelsea not to play the game, perhaps fearing that the liberal sexual attitudes of 1950s Scandinavia might frighten some of the English players who could also be led astray and might never return.

In the end, when we did start playing the foreign sides our media told us about the “time-wasting, play-acting and haranguing of officials” that was the norm in Europe (so they said) along with “erratic displays” from the referee (who being foreign didn’t understand the rules).  And not much has changed for the time-wasting quote above does not come from days of yore, but rather from recent edition of The Athletic as it continues its unending, relentless and constant support for Liverpool FC.  It really is as if they have listened to the BBC football commentaries of the 1970s and 1980s and seen them not as a warning against how not to report football, but as a blueprint for the modern era.

(Incidentally I wonder what they will say if this season now has to be stopped because of the medical emergency, and so Liverpool don’t win the title that they expect to?  It would be ironic, as slowly their hopes of such things as an unbeaten season, over 49 games unbeaten, and a league and FA Cup double, have gradually slipped away.  True, they did win the double once, some 35 years ago, but obviously are not repeating that task this season, and so taking no step to close the gap on Arsenal, the three times doublers, and holders of the 49 record, and the only team since Preston in 1889 to go unbeaten all season – although Preston only had to play 22 games).

So instead, the faithfully pro-Liverpool “The Athletic” (that’s the magazine remember that got the entire early history of Arsenal wrong when reporting a guy who wanted to set up a club to reflect the early values of the club, by setting up a club that was owned and operated by one man – himself, rather than a significant number of club members, as Arsenal were in the early days.  They also got the name of the club, its location, and the colour of its shirts wrong – but these of course are mere details and not the concern of your modern journalist).

But still, we must acknowledge that the Athletic has actually given a nod to the concept of “rotational fouling” – that phrase first used in Untold Arsenal and which is now starting to pop up here and there.  As when they say…

“Tactical fouls, rotational fouls, running down the clock, blocking the runner at corners, simulation, crowding out the referee, badgering the fourth official…” – it all sounds a bit like Bolton when playing Arsenal in the early Wenger years – not that the press in those days ever saw it like that because this was, after all, Arsenal.  But still, nice of them to use a phrase invented by Untold.

Interestingly, when something within the rules but undertaken to aid one team rather than another, is done by Liverpool (or Liverpool! as I think we should go back to calling them) then it was always admired by the broadcasters since the days when Liverpool! dominated the 1st division in the 1970s and 1980s.  When other teams have done it, or do it now, the tactics are known as “dark arts”.

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So The Athletic notes that, “The pristine playing surface at Anfield will be heavily watered to suit Liverpool’s passing game and the army of ball boys from the club’s under-13 and under-14 teams are under strict orders to ensure that the ball is returned as quickly as possible when the hosts are on the front foot.”

Those, I suppose, are red arts.  Or white arts.  But not dark arts.  Most certainly not.  Oh my word no!  So they tell us, drooling with admiration that,

“Last May, Oakley Cannonier, one of the most gifted youngsters at the academy, famously helped Trent Alexander-Arnold catch Barcelona napping with the quickly-taken corner for Divock Origi to score the decisive goal in front of the Kop in their Champions League encounter.”

Fair enough.  But if we were trying to write a balanced piece might we not also add in April 2017 Liverpool! were fined £100,000 and banned from signing academy players from English league clubs for two years after being found guilty of tapping up a schoolboy from Stoke City leaving the parents liable for thousands of pounds of school fees Liverpool! said they would pay.  Worse the schoolboy was then unable to sign for another club until Stoke received a compensation fee of £49,000, and Liverpool! appeared to be rather slow, or perhaps very slow, or perhaps astoundingly slow, at paying.

Curiously, given the anti-Atlético Madrid rhetoric pouring out of the Athletic, Atlético Madrid were found guilty of the same offences.  As were Barcelona and Real Madrid.  But we’d expect that.  They’re foreign.

Not like Liverpool!  As purely Anglo Saxon as an Anglo Saxon thing full of Anglo Saxons.

7 comments to Is it only nasty foreign people who cheat at football?

  • Gord

    Headline: Gary Lineker fears his job will be chopped if season ends due to COVID-19

    —–

    Joe Montemurro has gone back to Australia for an unspecified length of time due to a family problem.

    I think it would be nice if some former Arsenal player (men’s team) might decide to volunteer to help the women’s team in the interim. For example, I think a bunch of them would be overjoyed if Bergkamp stopped by a time or two.

  • Good to see that the exclamation mark is back!

    Watching the Liverpool! game tonight was made even sweeter by listening to the change in tone and commentary “style” as things started unravelling in extra time.

    The ball-boys were a little over-zealous in their endeavours tonight. On more than one occasion, multiple balls were to be seen gracing the Anfield turf. More like snooker than football.

  • Gord

    Wonderful to see LiVARpool! lose when PGMO isn’t officiating. Please 😈 Mike Riley go rot in hell.

  • Gord

    LiVARpool! losing

    I don’t understand why they play this type of football with the quality they have.

    All they have to do, is watch the EPL and see how PGMO tilts the field; game after game. And knowing that PGMO isn’t officiating the game, they can counter it.

  • Gord

    OT: Good and Bad Referees from GiveMeSport

    If the only data we look at, is internally generated, all other
    sources will just say we are exhibiting favoritism for Arsenal.

    GiveMeSport decided to look at how the refs do in the EPL. How
    Derby and Huddersfield ended up in this data, I don’t know (FA Cup?
    League Cup?)
    Most Least
    Paul Tierney Man$ity/CPal/StateA LiVAR/Sheff/Bright
    Martin Atkinson Wolve /LiVAR/ManU Burn /Wat /Leic
    Michael Oliver AVill /Leic /Ever Ars /Soton/CPal
    Anthony Taylor Burn /Ever /Wat Ars /LiVAR/Sheff
    Mike Dean Soton /Ever /CPal Bourn/Leic /Newc
    Jon Moss Ever /CPal /Ars Leic /Chel /LiVAR
    Kevin Friend Sheff /Wolve/AVill Man$ /Newc /Chel
    Chris Kavanagh Leic /Derby/Bright Man$ /Sheff/Newc
    Andre Marriner Man$ /Ever /State LiVAR/Nor /Bright
    Stuart Attwell Soton /Wolve/Ever Bourne/CPal/Bright
    Craig Pawson Spud /Wat /Chel LiVAR/Hudd /Newc
    Graham Scott Soton /Bourn/Wat State/AVill/Burn
    Lee Mason Burn /Ars /Chel Spud /Bourn/AVill
    David Coote Sheff /State/Ever Wolve/Burn /Nor
    ——————————————-
    Assign 3 for first, 2 for second, 1 for third
    LiVAR 2 3+2+1+3+3=12
    Man$ 3+3=6 3+3=6
    Leic 2+3+=5 1+2+3=6
    Chel 1+1=2 2+1=3
    ManU 1 0
    Wolve 3+2+2=7 3
    Sheff 3+3=6 2+2=4
    Spud 3 3
    Ars 1+2=3 3+3=6
    Burn 3+3=6 3+1+2=6
    CPal 1+2=3 1+2=3
    Ever 1+2+2+2+1+1=9 0
    Newc 0 1+2+1+1=5
    Soton 3+3=6 2
    Bright 1 1+1=2
    State 1+1+2=4 3
    Wat 1+2+1=4 2
    Bourne 2 3+3+2=8
    AVill 3+1=4 2+1=3
    Nor 0 2+1=3
    ?
    Derby 2 0
    Hudd 0 2
    ——————————————-
    Re-ordered by worst
    Ever 9 0
    Wolve 7 3
    Man$ 6 6
    Sheff 6 4
    Burn 6 6
    Soton 6 2
    Leic 5 6
    State 4 3
    Wat 4 2
    AVill 4 3
    Spud 3 3
    Ars 3 6
    CPal 3 3
    LiVAR 2 12
    Chel 2 3
    Bourne 2 8
    ManU 1 0
    Bright 1 2
    Newc 0 5
    Nor 0 3
    ?
    Derby 2 0
    Hudd 0 2

    9 7 6 6 6
    6 5 4
    4
    4
    3 3 3
    2 2 2 1 1

    Ignoring lots of zeros, the “median” is 4 and Arsenal is at 3. So,
    the 2 teams treated the worst are Everton and Wolves.

    ——————————————-
    Re-ordered by best
    LiVAR 2 12
    Bourne 2 8
    Man$ 6 6
    Leic 5 6
    Ars 3 6
    Burn 6 6
    Newc 0 5
    Sheff 6 4
    Chel 2 3
    Wolve 7 3
    Spud 3 3
    CPal 3 3
    State 4 3
    AVill 4 3
    Nor 0 3
    Soton 6 2
    Bright 1 2
    Wat 4 2
    ManU 1 0
    Ever 9 0
    ?
    Derby 2 0
    Hudd 0 2

    12 8 6 6 6
    6 5 4
    3
    3
    3 3 3
    3 3 2 2 2

    The “median” is 3, and Arsenal’s score is 6. But really the 2 teams
    treated the best by referees are LiVARpool! and Bournemouth.

  • Gord

    OT: Arsenal support in Baltimore (Maryland, USA)

    The things one finds when looking for news.

    https://www.baltimoremagazine.com/section/fooddrink/abbey-burger-bistro-federal-hill-arsenal-soccer

    Anyone been to Abbey Burger Bistro? How’s the camel?

  • Rondejonge

    This is a very funny and nice written piece. The humour is offcourse in the truth told in an mildly ironic manner. Thank you!
    I totally agree with the comments. How tilted the PL is is beyond belief. How can not one journalist, pay a little attention is even more mind-boggling. And then complaining that people dont trust the journalists anymore. Those journo’s really got their heads up their ars***