Moral Authorities.

Aaaargh! Keane, ‘analysing’, actually uses the c-word – clever – to describe Paquetà’s hideous thirty-foot, spine-distorting dive to claim the pen, for West Ham. Half-challenged by the host, he then adjusts to include the possibility that the player may have cheated, by saying that he’s ‘not saying that he cheated… but’. The hilariously execrable Hasselbaink goes along with him. It’s another depressing moment for this game, football, the playground of #PremierLeagueLegends, and for sport.

We are all Keano, these days. Entrapped by the laws, by VAR, but mainly by a universe where players routinely ‘seek to draw contact’. It may just be an extension of the whole truth-void phenomenon. Trump lost, Truss was let down and Dido Harding was all over everything in a good way. It’s both obscene and o-kaaay.

Paquetà has no other thought than to adjust his feet & body so as to maximise the chance of drawing *any contact whatsoever*, at which point the centrifugal whirligig-thing kicks in, and propels him into the next county. Even live you could see that the defender, fearing his own potential misjudgement, withdraws everything withdrawable, to try to prevent the slightest of touches. He probably or possibly fails. VAR and Keane think it’s a penalty and perhaps it is. But it’s also an obvious travesty.

Can anything be done/should anything be done, about this? Does it matter?
It would seem my appallingly pro-decency view of this is an outlier. But what the hell. I still think that there could and maybe should be some accounting for cheating or deception or cynicism; ideally calibrated to work against its most offensive forms. I do not accept, friends, that it’s okay to set out to (for example) get a penalty. However laughably out-of-touch it may seem, in the face of relentless acquiescence around behaviours that may be lawful but patently awful, I advocate a fightback. Note the cheating – log it and/or tot it up. Significantly publicise the results: in short, call out these Clever Clever People.

Fans know who the cheats are, or what cheating is – even if their tribalism excuses the naughtiness from their players in the moment. Keane knows exactly what Paquetta has done but thinks that the defender was clumsy in the miliseconds before and probably made contact, despite trying not to. Therefore he goes along with the decision. Simultaneously, he think it reeks… and I can live that… because these things are complex.

There’s an acceptance by some that strikers are entitled to seek contact even if they move arms/feet/legs ‘un-naturally’ to achieve it. Others – like me – think both the idea of that entitlement and the practise of engineering contact are shit. A player’s intention can of course be open to interpretation: it’s therefore ver-ry tough to prove that Kane or Zaha faked or dived, but this can be accounted for by intelligent witness and by noting or scoring the transgressions skilfully. So for example Paquetà gets a debit mark for ‘seeking and adjusting to attract contact and obvious exaggeration, with dive’. Or similar. The heaviest and most heinous examples of whatever kind of crap get the strongest response… from our unashamedly Moral Authorities.

In my happier daydreams stuff like this really happens. Weekly reports are drafted and a league table of scheissters produced. There are even penalties – I mean real ones! Not financial, obvs, they mean nothing. Games missed and a certain level of public humiliation. A calling-out.

You with me? 🤨

*Wonders aloud*: would the Premier League pay me & a couple of others to grade matches for Sporting Behaviour (or whatever they wanted to call it?) A wee panel, covering every game; noting miscreants.
Thirty grand seem reasonable? 🤓