Australian soccer will wither with divas diving like this

Fans of the round-ball game – you can keep it.

Australia is not a traditional soccer nation. We are sports crazy, however, so we’ll watch absolutely anything. It’s been said that in Melbourne, you can get a crowd to watch two flies crawling up a wall.

Personally speaking, I had quite a few 1AM and 3AM alarm calls back in 2010 so I could watch the world’s best actors footballers play for the World Cup. And that was despite the most annoying sports soundtrack in history – the vuvuzela. I’ll most likely watch a lot of the European Championships this year, too. Why? Because like most Aussies, I’ll watch just about anything if it’s being played to a high standard.

It must be said that soccer is growing here at the grassroots level, thanks mainly to a generation of ‘helicopter parents’ who like the fact that their precious little darlings are less likely to scrape a knee or be touched by another human being (!) during the game. Maybe one day that generation of young, bruise-free athletes will lead soccer in a complete takeover of the Australian sports landscape.

Hopefully it won’t be during my lifetime, though.

Last weekend saw the Grand Final, the championship game, for our domestic soccer league here in Australia – the A-League. Let me tell you something; if this is truly the kind of player, if this is the kind of play that can decide a championship game in this football code, then it will never dominate Australian sport.

May the sporting gods strike us down if it does.

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If you were a Brisbane Roar player (that’s the team in orange), you’d have to feel like the medal that’s now on your mantle is a little tarnished, wouldn’t you?

The video evidence is clear. Berisha did well to maintain posession in such heavy traffic but then he used the situation to milk a penalty. He took a dive. He acted. He cheated the fair-play spirit of the game, the spirit of all sport, and what makes it so much worse is that he did it in what was supposed to be the showcase game of the year – a grand final.

It’s not like the grainy film from Maradona’s hand-of-god goal back in 1986 (thanks Phil R!). This is clear. There is no contact. He cheated to gain advantage and his team won the championship as a direct result.

I hope the FFA is feeling a little embarrassed about this. I have never watched an A-League game and it’s not likely I ever will.

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12 Comments

  1. Disappointing stuff Swade. The celebrations at the giving of the penalty were ugly enough. Unfortunately I feel this is the tip of the iceberg. Australian soccer players are relatively bulletproof compared to the their Italian colleagues and the theatrical influence on games results is only likely to increase.
    Having said this, I feel it is creeping into other contact sports as well. Players feigning concussion after borderline high tackles etc.
    As training, coaching and technological advances push players closer to what is humanly possible, perhaps acting ability is the final frontier of excellence. Meryl Streep at centre forward anyone?

  2. Agree 100% the final was about the only a- league game I watched all year. Disgraceful. Makes teaching school Kids about sportsmanship oh do much easier (sarcasm intended)

  3. Very, very average behaviour (players & crowd) that has sadly marred what should have been a great game. The celebrating of a penalty as well as the harrassment of the referee are pathetic.
    I love football, played it for years when I was younger and go to a couple of A-League games each season with my family to watch our local club, Central Coast Mariners. However (not unlike drugs in cycling) the game has a real problem on its hands with penalties, particularly in the box like this one. Not just here in Australia, world wide. Such a stupid way to end a season.

    Berisha – you are a cheat.

  4. Also the introduction of video technology is a must. For the stamping out of diving, but also for the protection of the refs. I feel for the bloke (the ref) He’s been placed in a terrible position. Especially now as its come to light that he is a gold coast local, and his girlfriend works for the roar. Not his fault he called what he saw, FFA have a lot to answer for.

  5. To me out looked like he lost his balance. I don’t think it was a dive. But I do agree. It shouldn’t have been a penalty.

  6. The prat tried to kick the ball, missed and tried to save his embarassment by claiming a penalty. He got away with it and I am afraid until video technology is used as in rugby union then this will go on and on and on.

    Is he a cheat? Yes he is.

  7. hate the player, not the game. berisha is a rascal and the referee a blue-eyed amateur. but that was only the final game. why not be happy to be able to witness a great artist like thomas mozart broich in your league instead – every week!
    get into the game a bit. maybe by following some european club-team. and then, when you truly understand it and develope a feel for it, judge the sport again and i hope for you that you find joy in it then. as a european, i just don’t know how it feels not to have football (or soccer as you call it) running through your veins. but if watching a video of “le god” matt le tessier’s goals (google it!) doesn’t let your heart explode, well, you’re not there yet. maybe rugby is more like war and therefore more “manly”,
    but i’m telling you, most rugby-players wouldn’t last 10 minutes as a goalkeeper when professional football-players fire penalties at them.
    and football can be rough, too. the players are much more athletic then in rugby, have more stamina. they move all the time, have to act all the time, think, look ahead, anticipate, fight, totally unprotected, prevail, keep cool, keep control, keep going, think ahead, move fast, each one of them, all the time… of course, kid’s soccer may be lame, but then watch barca play, it’s pure action and it’s art.

    1. Hi,

      I do appreciate the game at the highest level, as I wrote in the post. I’ve enjoyed a few Barca games in the last 12 months (esp when working in Europe last year) and the World Cup and Euro Championships are regulars on my sporting calendar. I’ve seen a lot of the game over the years as we have very good coverage here in Oz. But combine the infrequent scoring with the acting and the politics involved (very noticeable when your country gets treated like crap as Australia does by FIFA) and the game will only ever be an occasional feature in my life. A real, highlighted and enjoyable feature when seen, but only an occasional one.

      Rugby – not my game. It’s played more in northern Australia.

      My game is Australian Rules Football. Full contact, with an oval ball to control. Passing by foot and by hand. No offside rule so it’s a 360 degree game played at breakneck speed for four quarters lasting around 120 minutes in all. And yes, I’m very confident that the guys who play our game can match any of the EPL guys for endurance, speed and physical skill.

      Every football code in the world has its high points and low points, which is a good thing. Everyone loves the code that’s prominent in their area. The key is to appreciate the good bits of codes you don’t know and try to look past the bad bits, like what happened here on the weekend.

  8. Unfortunately, the game has become riddled with “divers”…and the worst seem to be from South America. Seems like the teams must practise diving in the junior ranks, because by the time many of the players work their way out of S.A., and onto teams in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, many have become established actors. The rolling over and over and over in supposed pain on the pitch after a “hit” looks so asinine. Turns me off completely…and I do love football.

    What is needed is the referees to grow some appendages, and the leagues to support them, and red card anyone who dives…immediately. Multiple offenses should lead to game suspensions without pay.

    And don’t even get me started on the fighting in Ice Hockey…that is totally out of control these days, and utterly unnecessary.

  9. Ouch. That dive is extreme, even by European soccer standards. And the celebration afterwards, My god!

    On the other hand – Berisha is Albanian isn’t he?

  10. Not sure if that was a dive so much as he whiffed on his kick after coming out of traffic! But he certainly did not decline the penalty. Very weak.

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