Ok, we need to talk about something. Yesterday Joe Canning, who was yet again the hero of the day for Galway, was very lucky earlier in the match not to have been at least booked for a very stupid hack on Richie Hogan. The ref mustn’t have seen it (I didn’t see it until I watched the highlights). Here’s the thing – Hogan was hurt. I know he was hurt because he didn’t get back up immediately. Hurlers don’t stay on the ground unless they’re hurt. (Or if they’re not hurt then they’re probably winning and the game’s nearly over and they’re trying to kill time!) Of course he was hurt – he’d just been whacked on the knee by a lump of wood. If it was me I’d probably take the rest of the month off! But do you know what happened next? Richie, after a second or two, got back on his feet, shook off the hit and got back to work. That was it. And most important of all, he didn’t complain to the ref or demand that action be taken against Canning. He was well within his rights to do so but he didn’t. Hogan’s doled out such treatment in the past – he’s given it out and so knows how to take it. And he was probably thinking, feck ya Joe, you’ll not get to me so easily.
Richie just played on and because nothing came of it, Joe was still on the pitch at the end of the match to score the all-important equaliser. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Now I love the World Cup and I love soccer (when it’s played well). But can you even begin to imagine such a thing happening in soccer? I can imagine it happening in Gaelic football or rugby but not in soccer. We have become immune to seeing professional soccer players rolling around the turf in pretend agony, whilst at the same time screaming to the ref for a card. Is there anything more despicable than seeing a player trying to get another player sent off? And remember, in the instance with Hogan and Canning, Richie was actually genuinely hurt. A lot of the time in soccer the player goes down without any contact. Or it’s a minor hit. But there they are, clutching their shins in apparent pain and all the time we all know there’s nothing wrong with them.
It’s gotten so bad that when it happens, we now blame the ref. Ah come on ref, there’s no way that was a penalty! After Brazil v Croatia, everyone was ready to have the referee excommunicated. The consensus was he should never be given another game again. However I never heard one word said against Fred for pretending to be fouled. The attitude is, well that’s his job – go down in the box (Declan Drohan, no jokes on that please) and get your penalty. One reporter on the match commented how Fred had a poor match, except for winning the penalty. You know what, I don’t think he should be commended for cheating. Because that’s what it is – cheating. And it’s so prevalent in soccer that we just expect it now. We expect it and accept it. Cheating is a normal part of the game.
Yet Mister Hogan of County Kilkenny reminded us all yesterday that it is not normal. What’s normal is to get back up and get back in the game.
FIFA needs to work on stamping this out of soccer before it gets any worse. Though when you consider FIFA is an organisation that makes the Vatican look like Moonfish, I’ll not hold my breath.
PS It’s not that there isn’t cute-hoorism in GAA. Gods above, there’s plenty. I have a particular problem with that age old trick of hooking your arm around your opponent’s and falling to the ground in a way that looks like you’re the one being dragged down. I don’t like that and it annoys me how refs fall for it time and time again.