The most popular sport in the world..not doubt about it…and why wouldn’t it be…eleven members on each team, a pressurized sphere with the rather uncomplicated objective of putting it in the net at the other end of the field. Football fever makes our country’s obsession with cricket look like trying to piss upwind. Its interesting that we suck at a sport that countries the size of the suburbs of Bbay seem to’ve mastered. Where else would you hear names like ‘Cote d’Ivoire’ – translated suitably from french to ‘Ivory Coast’.
While one can’t but help getting caught up in the excitement and of course the high quality of football being played, there is another aspect that many might’ve noticed. The perfumed groin syndrome. Its what seems to affect most strikers when an opposition defender passes within a tripping distance of them. Contact or no-contact, these talented players then take the most spectacular dives, spinning around in the air and writhing on the ground with their heads ucked into their nether regions, while clutching their ankle/calf/foot while their faces contort in agony. Referees seeing the atrocity committed on the fearless attacker award a free-kick and sometimes also a yellow card to the defender. The noble warrior at this point seems to miraculously recover and gets back on his feet and goes tearing off to receive a pass.
The physical safety of the games most prolific strikers used to be a concern in the early 80s when coaches used to assign their defenders the rather uncomplicated task of felling the opposition’s finest if they got possession so as to discourage them and if possible even remove them from the field of play. FIFA then gave referees instructions to protect these chosen few and to stamp out all malevolent tackles. However, that then made defences the hapless target as striker after striker tore into the penalty area and crashed to the ground when faced with an impossible situation to earn his team a penalty. The Argentinian striker Ariel Ortega took this act to new heights in the 2002 cup. While you still see the odd dive, it was refreshing to see the referee book the Dutch striker for diving in the penalty box. What’s more, such cards also attract a 5000DM fine! Now, there’s a game where all involved seem to want to improve and not just shamelessly milk for advertising revenues…wonder what game i’m referring to….