Damn These International Breaks

By on September 2, 2009

Arsene Wenger and crowd 2

Since we are on an international break and there is obviously no need for a deadline day piece, I am going to use this opportunity to briefly discuss Eduardo’s ban, hopefully for the last time and give a quick update on things happening with Arsenal Station. Arsene Wenger nailed the problem with the ban in one word, “arbitrary.” There is obviously precedent for such a ban as a Lithuanian player was suspended for two matches a few years ago for diving against, you guessed it… Scotland.

But the real problem is the fact that Eduardo is being suspended while dozens of the same infraction go unpunished, and that is just in the last week. The other disturbing fact is that UEFA are choosing to selectively “enforce” this kind of ruling in the middle of a competition. If you want to ban players two matches for diving, then make the announcement at the beginning of the competition so everyone starts on a level playing field. To single out Eduardo because he happened to be playing in the most high-profile match of the round is unfair to say the least.

Eduardo penalty But let me make one further point about the “dive” itself. I tried to point out the other day that there is absolutely NO difference in either the players’ actions or intent between Eduardo and Rooney’s incidents. Eduardo fully expected contact from the rushing keeper, just as Rooney did. Just like Rooney, Eduardo began to go down just before the contact to soften the incoming blow.

In a game that moves ridiculously fast, how could Eduardo adjust to Boruc moving his arms at the last second, if he could even have seen that he had? Had Almunia moved his arms at the last minute, Rooney’s dive would’ve looked exactly like Eduardo’s. All players go down in ANTICIPATION of contact, it is a natural reflex. That, to me, is not a dive.

A dive, rather, is when someone goes down, with their arms flailing despite no contact and no real anticipation of contact. A case in point would be Eboue’s dive at United or any of a dozen Gerrard or Ronaldo dives (all available in nice compilations on YouTube – then search Eduardo dives and see if anything but the Celtic match comes up). But I complain about Rooney’s dive because his actions and intent were the same as Eduardo’s, except he had no chance to recover the ball which he desperately toe-poked out of play just in time to be able to claim the penalty should there be contact, and he is praised while Eduardo is vilified as a cheat and a criminal. Also, don’t forget to check YouTube to see Aidan McGeady, the player who got all in Eduardo’s face following the incident calling him a “Spanish prick,” take a nice tumble of his own this past weekend.

Anyway, transfer deadline day has come and passed and there was no movement. A certain segment of the supporters are once again putting Wenger to the cross for “letting the fans down” by not buying anyone and having made “£40m profit,” which some think go right into his and the board’s pockets. But let me say that that is highly exaggerated for sensationalist purposes. It was obvious that Toure was leaving and equally obvious that Vermaelen was always going to be his replacement.

Those who say “£40m profit” don’t take off Vermaelen’s transfer fee and wages. Also, when you consider the new deals given to van Persie and Ramsey this summer, the new deals today alone for Bendtner and Denilson, and also those coming later this season including possibly Fabregas, Walcott, and Gallas, and the extra wages which will be involved in all of them, then the “profit” seems to be more in the area of £10m. None of this even mentions the fact that profits are not paid out to shareholders in dividends by the club so none of this profit” actually goes into Arsene or the board’s pocket. But we all know this is a common argument, no matter how ridiculous, used by the doom-mongering, anti-Wenger faction of the Arsenal support.

I should say I am less disappointed in our lack of another signing this summer than I have been in recent years. I feel the squad is sufficiently strong at the moment to at least have us in a good enough position by January to be able to fight for the league and that if the right deal comes along in the next window, Arsene will pull the trigger.

I would also like to say how disappointed I am in the fact that Rosicky and Fabregas have been allowed to join their respective national teams,Cesc Fabregas 3 apparently without restriction. If Cesc was not fit enough to even make the bench for the United match, how is he now fit enough to play two international matches for Spain? If Rosicky was not fit enough for the bench at United and hasn’t made a competitive appearance yet this season, why are the Czechs so recklessly determined to possibly put his entire career at risk by playing him?

Following Theo’s double service this past summer and the fact that it has kept him out for the start of the season, I really wish Arsene would start putting his foot down with the national federations and start telling them, “No!” This team has been wracked by too many injuries in the past few years and we seem to lose players to injury on almost every international break. I appreciate the federations’ positions but the Arsenal must come first at this point and FIFA must find a better schedule for these qualifiers instead of forcing two matches into 4 days so early into the season. I mean, this is the second international break of the season and it’s not even three weeks old!

Now, for the site update… I would like to thank CarlGooner4 at The Gooner Forum for our new, and desperately-needed, banner. Also, I am looking for just a few people who would like to become guest contributors to Arsenal Station and can analyze and write about Arsenal Football Club, intelligently and well. If you think you might be interested, send me an email (arsenalstation at hotmail.co.uk) giving me a little background on yourself and I will then send you further instructions. Because of the erratic nature of live streams lately, Arsenal Station may or may not be posting the stream links to matches from here on out. It has proved too much of a hassle to be able to do regularly and I’d rather not do something only once in a while. Highlights, however, will continue to be posted following every match. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank all of those who regularly visit and read the blog and especially those who leave comments. [digg=http://digg.com/soccer/Damn_These_International_Breaks]


  1. Ted Harwood

    September 2, 2009 at 11:37 am

    One thing I don’t understand about the diving question: the Laws of the Game say explicitly that “tripping or an attempt to trip” are punishable by direct free kick. Now, of course, seldom does one see an “attempt to trip” being whistled for a foul if no contact is made. But by implication, doesn’t that mean that contact is NOT necessarily the be-all and end-all when it comes to fouling, and hence, diving? (Forgive me if I’m missing some nuance of the Laws; I’m American).

    Furthermore, “diving” seems to be largely about intent, and I’d love to see the video evidence that can post facto get inside a player’s mind and show the bit that’s saying, “Well, lad, it’s just about time that you thought about deceiving the ref through simulation.” Hmm.

    • Ted Harwood

      September 2, 2009 at 11:40 am

      But, just to add on, I do realize that convention dictates that contact IS, in fact, the criterion for “dive” or “foul”; I’m just interested in exploring the possibility that Edu was anticipating contact because Boruc was attempting to get the ball/maybe trip him/maybe not. I think I would damn sure try to avoid contact with a 200-pound Polish man sliding in at my recently healed leg, though.

      • ArsenalStation

        September 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

        Those are pretty much the points I was trying to make. In a previous post, I discussed the fact that contact ALONE does not mean a penalty. It seems to me that the player has to be impeded. Rooney had no chance to get the ball that he quickly booted out of play just so he could make sure Almunia couldn’t get any of the ball. There was no possibility of Rooney catching up to the ball he had played… in effect, the ball he played ended the possibility of the run continuing before Almunia even arrived.

        And, as for your other point, OF COURSE Eduardo was anticipating contact. I wrote in this post that Rooney was anticipating contact in the exact same way. Had Almunia got his arms out of the way like Boruc, Rooney would’ve looked just like Eduardo. There is no difference in the players’ intent… ALL players go down in anticipation of contact. How could Eduardo have known that Boruc would pull his arm back at the last second? By the time he had, it was already too late just like it would’ve been for Rooney.

        With the speed of the game, it seems to me a dive is when a player goes down with no reasonable expectation of contact.

  2. Ted Harwood

    September 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Right, and even then, it’s often quite hard to tell about “expectation”. But, as I think you’ve pointed out well, it’s not any easier after the fact, really, even in slow motion.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

      You are absolutely right about video not proving “intent.” These will never be called consistently and that’s why a suspension for Eduardo but no suspension for McGeady or no nothing for Rooney, and not even a card for Torres, who went down arms flailing. Not to mention, how can the same offense be worth a yellow card in a match but a two-match ban afterwards?

  3. Ted Harwood

    September 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I’ve put that question to various other bloggers, and they all agree that it’s pretty silly.

    Numerous others have pointed out that in American football, to take one example, video replay is only used to double-check FACTUAL evidence, not judgment calls. Diving, to me, is a judgment call that simply must be arbitrarily made on the field or not, otherwise, why is the referee there? We may as well just use him as crowd control and hand out cards and fines after all the matches once the FA/UEFA/FIFA have re-watched the whole match on tape.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm

      My main issue with video is consistency. If you are going to use video replays to determine fines or bans after the fact than why not use them during the game. It can’t stop the match anymore than a player rolling around acting like he’s hurt. It can also be used for only penalty calls and whether or not a ball crosses the goal line.

      UEFA’s hypocrisy is so evident when they act like they are against video being introduced into football to preserve the integrity but they are already undermining what they consider the game’s integrity by using video afterward to make judgments.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Ted. And don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t know what you are talking about just because you’re American.

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