It is a disgrace to football to witness the number of teams in the Russian World Cup 2018 who physically wrestled Harry Kane to the ground to prevent his reaching the ball in the penalty area, even in front of the referee in England’s win against Colombia last night. This is not football, far less gamesmanship.
Teams and their managers who tolerate such behaviour are a disgrace to their countries, and it will be interesting to see if public opinion in these countries and in the teams’ supporters will shame such behaviour into oblivion. Referees who ignore it are a disgrace to themselves and to the rules of the game. The VAR video assistant referees need to step up to the plate more than is being done as it is bringing the VAR system into disrepute, which works very well in tennis where it was pioneered, and in rugby where there are no significant disputes.
One may respond that if the referee gives penalties and sends players off in the first minutes of a game then this will not contribute to a good game of football. This is a ridiculous argument. Such wrestling to the ground is not football anyway, and spectators want to see goals scored. Further, when it comes to dangerous and obvious headbutting as occurred at a set play in the penalty box last night, there is no excuse for ignoring such dangerous behaviour to a player’s chin and face, and it calls into question the partiality of the VA Referees.
Another disgraceful tactic last night was surrounding the referee while one of the players worked his boot on the penalty spot in the hope of disrupting Harry Kane’s first penalty.
As a Scotsman, I am pleased for the English team and hope that they will go on to win the World Cup, playing against teams whose managers will not tolerate such dirty tricks, far less carried out without shame and thus possibly with the approval of their peer group, in front of the world’s television cameras.
What does this say about the offenders themselves? The individuals, the team, the manager, the supporters and the country?
If one cannot play fair, victory is hollow and defeat is well-deserved. When will the ungodly learn that it is the end of the matter that counts?
4 Jun 2018: although Tommy Sheppard, the SNP MP, was called first at Prime Minister’s Question today, he could not bring himself to congratulate the English football team at the World Cup, demonstrating the attitude of some SNP politicians, but this was rescued by Ian Blackford’s congratulations as leader of the SNP group in Westminster, while taking the opportunity to promote Scottish Indepence by recalling that today is American Independence Day when the Speaker welcomed a visiting American state senator to the House of Commons.