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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Smith injury should give pause

Against Liverpool yesterday Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith suffered the kind of injury which should give every footballer pause.

When a player breaks a leg and dislocates an ankle in the same movement, past the sympathy for Smith, I get this feeling of bubbling up fury at players which use their health as a ploy to get others in trouble.

Remember in World Cup 2002 when Turkish player Hakan Unsal kicked a ball at Rivaldo which hit him on the knee and Rivaldo collapsed to the floor clutching his head? The referee, fooled by the stunt, promptly dismissed the Turlish player and Rivaldo continued with a miraculous recovery. Rivaldo got a 6k fine while earning 4 million pounds that year.

At the same World Cup, England’s very own serial spitter El-Haji Diouf caught a gust of wind on his lower leg as the Uruguayan keeper Fabian Carini came close to him in the box. Diouf looked like he was going to die in pain.

More recently Arjen Robben got Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina sent off after reeling on the pitch in pain after being patted on the cheek by the keeper. Reina raised his hand, true, but Robben lowered the bar yet again.

While the British press loves to pretend this is a problem born of imported players don’t be fooled. In the 40's and 50's Francis Lee was a pioneer. In the 1991 Cup Winners Cup, Mark Hughes showed his antics against Montpellier. TV evidence was not allowed back then but the replays clearly showed no contact. Hughes acted like he was thrown from a train.

Alan Smith might spend an entire year recovering from this injury. Give pause to his plight and then consider diving fools like Jurgen Klinsmann, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robbie Savage, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maradona, Hakan Suker, Diego Simeone, and the worst ever: Chile’s keeper Roberto Rojas who, in 1989, actually cut himself with a razorblade after a firecracker exploded near him on the pitch. Rojas, thankfully, was banned for life.

None of this will make Alan Smith heal any faster, but consider the trauma a real injury causes a player and just why play acting is so wrong.

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Anonymous brush said...

Francis Lee played for City and Bolton in the 60's and 70's

2/19/2006 9:05 AM  
Anonymous brookster said...

Hear, hear. This combined with Robben's dive and countless other incidents this year illustrates that something should be done.

2/19/2006 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too true, I am hoping FIFA devises a method to cut diving and injury feigning out of the game, it really is disgusting. I admire players like Alan Smith for their get on with it attitude when it comes to hard challenges, but sadly this isnt one he could shake off. Hope he comes back from it.

2/21/2006 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Yorkie said...

England's very own El Haj Diouf is actually Senegal's very own serial spitter, though like Frannie Lee, he's a Bolton man.

2/24/2006 3:00 PM  

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