Fair Play Returns To Playing Fields Of England

A soccer match is annulled, and will be replayed next week, though no sporting law was broken. How can that be right? There is good reason. It is called fair play or, from a half-forgotten era, the Corinthian spirit. The English are Corinthians again, so all’s fair with the world I hear you sigh. However, though the setting was one of England’s oldest playing fields, the principles were mostly from other countries

Last Saturday’s FA Cup match between Arsenal and Sheffield United in London was locked at 1-1 when a Sheffield player went down injured in the Arsenal penalty box. He was obviously in distress, and a Sheffield colleague kicked the ball out of play to allow him medical attention. When play resumed, Ray Parlour of Arsenal attempted to honor the convention that applies throughout the world by tossing the ball to the opponent.

Unfortunately, Nwankwo Kanu, a Nigerian making his Arsenal debut, intercepted it and passed the ball to his Dutch teammate Marc Overmars who scored with hardly a Sheffield man making the effort to prevent him. Sheffield United stood like sight-seers at a road crash while their goal was breached, and reacted liked robbed innocents. Maybe in the modern game, where sport caves in to winner-takes-all business, they were naive to stand aside under the presumption of fair play.

Referee Peter Jones felt he had no power to overrule the goal. Actually, the arbiter did have a choice. He could have deemed Kanu guilty of unsporting behavior (FIFA disciplinary Rule 12) and cautioned him with a yellow card. That would have assumed the Nigerian was fully aware of what led to the throw-in, and Kanu swears he was not. The player made a mistake, and Overmars kicked the ball into the net without considering the justice of the moment.

Jones believed them. It was a high pressure, televised match, unlike a lower division English league game between Wrexham and Preston last month where another arbiter disallowed a goal in similar circumstances. On that occasion, the referee applied common sense; the higher you climb in officialdom these days, the more this discretion — in effect to bend the rules — is exorcised rather than exercised.

International Football Board, which ratified the rules, meeting in Britain this weekend, but no simpler option might be to consider enshrining in law practices that have been successfully urged FIFA to players to give the ball back after opponents require urgent care. There will be, FIFA claims, into a thick book from the London phone book if any possibility written in the law, according to information received by Blog Andalas Comunity.

So the onus shifted from a referee who followed the thin rule book and felt powerless to intervene, to the team which gained an unsporting victory. We feel it is not right, said Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman who coaches Arsenal. We feel that we didn’t win the game like we want to win our games. The best we can do now is to offer Sheffield United to replay the match.

A FOREIGNER in England’s national sport offering the English a reprise of the Corinthianism that they invented along with the original rules of the game? It appears Wenger had discussed with his board and an FA official at the game, le beau geste. Moreover, from English soccer officialdom, renowned for moving with elephantine slowness, there came within the hour a heartfelt acceptance.

Cynically rushed into this, they said, would be a deadly precedent, would encourage the cheats to drive every road and look for the cause of no end to beat them upside down. No doubt some will try. But David Davies, acting chief executive of Football Association of England, cleverly offers high land for the FIFA 2010 World Cup South Africa, world football’s rulers. We are a member of FIFA, said Davies, and their slogan is Fair Play. We wanted to show everyone that things are fair play in this country.

Touché. The ball was in FIFA’s court and sure enough Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, kept it in play by responding: “It was a wonderful gesture. Both Arsenal and the FA behaved in the best spirit of the game, and FIFA applauds this unique gesture. So, a full-blooded replay at Arsenal’s London stadium takes place Tuesday. The 38,000 fans will be admitted for half the normal price, and even the players accept that to labor twice for the same end is better than to have won or lost unjustly.

The decent thing has been done, said Martin Keown who is the Arsenal spokesman for the players’ union. It shows the true spirit of the game, it is without ulterior motive, and is an uplifting decision in a season besmirched by players feigning fouls and attempting to fake penalties.

Keown, in fact, played no part in Saturday’s encounter. He was, like many an Arsenal player over the last nine years, serving a suspension for foul play, though he is available for the re-match. It is one of those ironies that cling to Arsenal, and the ultra-competitive, pragmatic style with which it pursues trophies. The players’ misdemeanors, both before Arsene Wenger’s arrival and since, and their challenges to authority on the field are legion. Monsieur Wenger has been an apologist for that sorry disciplinary record but now, with one bound, he is the high priest of fair play.

Yet being churlish must not be allowed to offend the spirit of the gesture he made. Between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, I journeyed from London to Barcelona where, to a man, the players, coaches, directors and journalists at Barcelona versus Real Madrid, embraced the new spirit of the English Fair Play. Naturally, I played my small, ennobled part in the afterglow because, in a sea of sport contaminated from the Olympics to the World Cup, the odd ripple of sportsmanship really does feel good.

0 Response to "Fair Play Returns To Playing Fields Of England"

Posting Komentar