All entries for Tuesday 04 January 2005

January 04, 2005

On Sportsmanship

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4130167.stm

I watched Manchester United play Tottenham Hotspur this evening, the latter having been the recipient of my support for well over 10 years. To summarise the match: Man U were dominant in midfield, but without Rooney and RVN were unable to create too many decent chances (Also thanks to MoM Ledly King). When they did, Paul Robinson was equal to the challenge. Spurs created a few half-chances but never really threatened, except in the last 20 minutes when the game became a little more free-flowing. 1–0 to either side looked increasingly likely.

Then there was the incident, which some commentators have called the worst "decision" in Premiership history. Roy Carroll came out of the area to clear (poorly), then retreated hastily. Meanwhile, the ball came off a few players and ended up with Pedro Mendes around the half way line on the Spurs right. He hit it first time, attempting to lob Carroll. Nice idea, but it appeared the Ulsterman was back on his line and in no trouble.

However, a fleeting glance off the ball meant he dropped it, spooning it across the goal line. With a horrified look that matched those on the faces of the United supporters behind him, he turned, and despairingly scooped it out of the net after it had bounced a yard over the line. he gets up, and to his surprise he sees that paly has continued. Old Trafford was in uproar, as was The Bar.

Now, the referee and his assistant were clearly incompetent. It has been claimed that the assistant was too far away from play, but from the replays it is apparent that he was clearly at least in line with the penalty area. For the distance the ball went over, that was close enough. Either he gave up watching, thinking Carroll had it, or he's biased. Either way, he shouldn't be officiating.

Roy Carroll, on the other hand, knew. He knew it was a goal. He knew that there was no getting around it afterwards with the replays etc. Surely he should have done something about it, made it obvious it was a goal? Did he? No, he just carried on. He implicitly lied to the ref, to the rest of the team, to Tottenham, and to both sets of fans. It defrauded Spurs of 2 points, which come May could mean a significant loss of revenue (It's £500,000 per league place, let alone any European ramifications). It brought the game into disrepute. In short, he should be severely punished, and I hope he gets what he deserves.

However, he could have saved himself the outrage of a nation of fans, the shame of being a cheat and any disciplinary measures by being a sportsman. What's happened to Sportsmanship? Even in one of the most gentlemanly sports there is, cricket, many batsmen stand their ground when they know they've got an edge, putting the umpire under greater pressure. Today Boeta Dippenaar got a huge edge which carried to a slip – not the wicketkeeper, a slip – and he was given not out. Besides the incompetent umpiring from Daryl Harper, he could have walked off the field. I'd like to think I would have.

How can we respect sportsmen, who earn the adulation of millions, when they're nothing but cheats?


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