So…Will They Book Dida for Cheating?

This article is a submission for the Soccerlens Football Writing Competition; to participate, please read the details here.

Written by Joe Groff

Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him? Thursday’s headlines proclaimed that Celtic’s victory at Parkhead was marred by an incident of a fan that broke onto the pitch and ‘struck’ Milan goalkeeper, Dida, during Celtic’s second goal celebrations. The BBC posted within an hour of the match end, “Uefa to probe Celtic fan attack”. Cataracts patients sitting in hospital could see that the incident was hardly an attack.

Anyone who believes for a second that Dida was ‘attacked’ needs to contact me about the oceanfront property in Slovakia that I’m selling. Watching the match, I actually started questioning whether the fan went for his jugular with a knife. Alas, no blood. The fan tickled Dida on the neck and as the keeper turned to make chase, he thought to himself, “I’m going to get that guy . . . Oh wait! I can use this to my advantage” and dropped like a ton of bricks. Did he really think that nobody would see? Did he expect anyone to actually believe that he was so badly injured that he needed an ice-pack and a stretcher?

In a year full of negative press in the sporting world, Dida’s actions should be ranked right up at the top of the list. While Celtic certainly ought to be held accountable for allowing a fan to enter the pitch, a much heavier penalty should be dealt to Dida the Disgraceful. It’s hard enough to deal day in and day out with the histrionics of some modern players, grabbing their faces every time they take a knock on the shin as Milan did throughout the course of the game. But as an American, I have to defend the sport that I love against critics who think it’s a game for pansies. The defence is made none the easier after events like these.

What Dida did was the most dishonourable and deceitful display of sporting behaviour I have ever seen. More infuriating, is that the media actually gives an ounce of sympathy to him. The only thing Dida got hurt was his ego, having failed to capture the initial shot, he gave McDonald a wide open chance to take the victory for Celtic. While the events that followed admittedly should have been prevented by the Celtic Park stewards, nothing changes the fact that Dida took the opportunity to try to deceive the officials, UEFA and the broader football community for his team’s advantage.

Of course I want the teams I support to win, but not at any cost. I remember my sporting days when my main goals were to go out and give my 110%, leaving nothing on the field, and to play with pride, with a respect for the game itself. I would be ashamed at what my father would think if he ever caught me play-acting to get a call to go my way. My sons will know what pride means. The same goes for the teams I support. I would much rather watch my team lose with their heads held high, than watch a team full of Dida’s go on to win.

That type of spirit is fading in today’s sporting society. Its decline is advanced by giving these types of antics any kind of validation. It’s terrible that there are still idiots out there who think it’s alright to break the divide between fans and players. Far worse when our idols act shamefully, let us down, and we fail to chastise them.

This article is a submission for the Soccerlens Football Writing Competition; to participate, please read the details here.

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