CBC Sports - FIFA Confederations Cup

FIFA Confederations CupSoccer cheats must be punished

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 10:37 PM

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Referee Enrique Osses, middle, reacts following a tackle on Brazilian striker Neymar, bottom right, during Wednesday's Confederations Cup semifinal against Uruguay. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images) Referee Enrique Osses, middle, reacts following a tackle on Brazilian striker Neymar, bottom right, during Wednesday's Confederations Cup semifinal against Uruguay. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

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CBCSports.ca's Nigel Reed offers his solution to rid soccer of diving - an antic that has embarrassed the sport for decades.
The madness has to stop.

It can be stopped if there is a will so to do. The solution is simple. The technology is already in place. The experts are already available. Let's put them together and hold the culprits accountable.

I have no idea whether Peter Finch was a talented athlete. I do know he was a formidable actor. For many, his lengthy career is summed up in one sentence: "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore."

The memorable rant won him an Oscar for his role in the 1976 film Network.

I know how he felt. The first semifinal -- a 2-1 Brazilian win over Uruguay -- of the Confederations Cup was merely the tip of the iceberg. A classic South American derby between two highly talented teams was ruined by bad acting. Had it been on Broadway, rather than Belo Horizonte, it would have been panned by the critics and shut down after one night.

Neymar is a brilliant young footballer. At the age of 21 he has achieved so much in a short time. He has helped Pele's old team, Santos, regain its prestige. He has reignited Brazil's dream of a sixth World Cup  and, with his best years ahead of him, has decided now is the time to spread his wings and join European giant Barcelona.

Unlike Finch, Neymar is a terrible actor.

He is not the only one. But he is the face of the future and already a role model to millions. Stardom comes at a price. For a professional athlete the cost is called responsibility. With a little good fortune, Neymar may have 10 years at the top. He needs to know the world will be watching his every step.

Officially the term is "simulation." How about we call it what it is in plain English -- cheating. Soccer is a contact sport and from time to time players collide in the battle for possession. Some tackles are mistimed, and very occasionally, premeditated and downright dangerous.

Referees dealing with epidemic

It is the job of the referee and his assistants to spot the difference. Unfortunately they are dealing with an epidemic. It only takes one player to get it started and everyone is affected. Diving has been allowed to fester to the extent that some players have become experts. They know exactly how and when to fool the referee.

Embellishment is a cancer in the game. The cure is right under our noses. The game cannot be stopped mid-stream but the "actors" can be caught. Once the game is over, a panel of former players and referees sit down to review the video. Their job is to name and shame the antagonists and recommend suitable punishment. An automatic one-game suspension would be a start.

The panel's decision is final and there is no right of appeal. If these grown men cannot behave themselves without the need to cheat their opponent, the referee and the fans, they need to be re-educated in the art of something approaching sportsmanship.

Once they know there is a risk of trial by video, it would surely act as a deterrent and players would think twice about making a mountain out of a molehill. FIFA should roll up its "My game is fair play" banners and put them in storage. When, and only when, the players understand the message can the world governing body dare to unfurl them once again.

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Brazil's win anything but convincing

Meanwhile, Brazil's 11th straight Confederations Cup win was anything but convincing. The loss was tough on Uruguay but when you miss a penalty kick at this level, it usually comes back to haunt you. The hosts march on to the weekend Final but their Achilles heel was unmistakably exposed.

The Brazilian defence is woefully inadequate. David Luiz' crude foul to concede the penalty was bad enough. The comedy of errors which preceded Edinson Cavani's equalizer would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. The soft underbelly was there for the entire world to see and Brazil has a year to fix it.

Finally a word of praise for someone you've probably never heard of. Enrique Osses is a Chilean referee and deserves enormous credit for his strong and decisive performance. Despite their reluctance, he did his utmost the let the players play. Senor Osses is on FIFA's shortlist for the 2014 World Cup. On this evidence I, for one, hope he makes the cut.

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