By Calvin Palmer
The sun has set on Uruguay’s hopes of winning the World Cup. In today’s semi-final, La Celeste, depleted by injuries and suspensions, were defeated 3-2 by Holland.
Since Uruguay’s dramatic win against Ghana in the quarter-final, the media have focused their attention on the rights and wrongs of Luis Suárez handling the ball on his goal line to deny Ghana victory.
Suárez did what any professional footballer would have done in that situation but somehow the media have unfairly labeled him as a “cheat”. Like the media are the moral arbiters on any issue. I have yet to hear any football pundit, who has actually played the professional game, roundly condemn Suárez for his actions.
And yet the same media seem happy to turn a blind eye to the real cheats in the competition – Holland –and perhaps the biggest cheat of them all, Arjen Robben.
Robben possesses sufficient skill and talent that he really has no need to resort to deceitful tactics every time he takes to the field. Whenever he is involved in a strong challenge, he goes to ground holding one of his ankles or knees and writhes around as if in dire need of an orthopedic surgeon to save his limb. But as soon as the referee has booked the player who made the tackle, Robben miraculously gets back up on his feet, having received no medical attention, and shows not the slightest degree of discomfort.
Now that is cheating.
Robben’s amateur dramatics appear to have spread throughout the entire Dutch team. Following any powerful tackle, Kuyt, Sneijder and Van Persie similarly go to ground feigning injury. The nation that gave us “total football” in the 1970s now gives us total play acting.
Throw into the mix the repeated thuggish tackles of Van Bommel, who manages to escape being booked or dismissed, and Holland are suddenly a far cry from the nation that transformed the modern game and delighted the world with their brand of skillful and honest football.
The Oranje of today are not so sweet; in fact, they leave a distinctly sour taste in the mouth.