Tag Archives: the soccer flop

Gold Medal Floppers

4 May

Soccer diving as an Olympic sport? Anyone on the list below could win the gold.

Germany’s Jurgen Klinsmann, now head coach of the USA national team was condemned as an uber-flopper in his playing days. He conned the referee in the 1990 World Cup Final by spinning airborne then hitting the ground like a man who had just been subjected to an electric shock. His opponent saw red. Had the philosopher Nietzsche witnessed Klinsmann’s theatrics he may have concluded, “Fairness is dead. And you have killed it.”

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is blessed by the soccer Gods as one of theirs. He bears the flopper’s cross. With pout and glower on his immaculate face, he renders referees blind to his antics and converts dives into penalties from whence he scores. Millions follow and worship him.

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben, a fabulously skilled Dutchman, brings an element of his nation’s Calvinist culture to flopping. Pre-destination absolves him of any guilt in his pursuit of victory through fakery.

Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine’s most celebrated striker is set to feature in the upcoming Euro 2012 championship. He easily falls on his booty and the referee points obligingly to the penalty spot. Sheva, his nom du football, then boots his stolen booty into the net. That’s a lot of booty.

Goalkeepers: so often the diver’s victims, not here. Chile was losing to Brazil in Rio. Chilean goalie, Robert Rojas was down and bleeding from the head. A burning firework hurled from the crowd lay several yards away. The game was stopped and then abandoned. Rojas left on a stretcher. Later, the TV cameras showed the razor blade he had used to cut himself. The missile had landed nowhere near him. Result: he was banned for life and worse, banished from respect.

Fabio Grosso, a player from the old boot of Europe was an ace in the submarine fleet – Dive! Dive! Dive! At the 2006 World Cup the Italian cheated the Australians out of glory. Later he semi-confessed to the plunge with a hint of modesty, “Maybe I accentuated it a little bit.” Italy proceeded to win the Cup. Grosso is unlikely to find any friends in the deep down under. Even the kangaroos want to beat him up.

And last and probably least, a player has a ball kicked at him in anger and it hits him on the legs. He falls over, grabs his face in agony and writhes in a simulation worthy of torture. The Brazilian Rivaldo’s cheap trick earned his attacker a red card while he walked off with the gold.

A San Francisco based group, Fight the Flop, campaigns to eliminate the dive from soccer. They can be seen at San Jose Earthquakes games in their organization’s T-shirts. But they are up against opportunity costs.  A yellow card for simulation may be worth the risk to a player if one has a chance at fooling the officials to gain a penalty kick. And there are those who see simulation as part of the game’s spirit. Who said soccer had to be morally correct? Enjoy the spectacle of mugging. Bad acting and stealing favor are welcome if your team reaps the reward.

See some of the villains in action here.

Read Alan Black’s soccer column in the San Francisco Chronicle every Friday.