Supposed ‘cheating’ has been in football since it was mob football played between towns and villages. Will it ever die? Of course not. This weekend’s football saw multiple incidents of it.
Saturday’s game between Leeds and Nottingham Forest, saw Kemar Roofe handle the ball across the line and rescue a point for Leeds.
I’ll just ignore the fact that Leeds fans found it quite beautiful due to many poor decisions against us.
The most interesting angle on this though is how openly honest the Leeds forward was. In fact, he went as far to say that he will never apologise for it. He insisted that it was just instinct. He said:
“What do you want me to do? Go to the referee and say that it shouldn’t be allowed?”
It got me thinking about whether footballers really should be honest about it. After all, it is the referee’s job to get the decisions right. Plus no one can ignore that the referee’s assistant could not have been in a better position. So in that sense, it is just yet another poor refereeing performance in the EFL.
On the other hand, we mustn’t forget the wonderful human being that is Miroslav Klose. The German football legend probably goes down as a legend not only for his prolific goal-scoring but also for his consistent fair play.
In 2005 whilst playing for Werder Bremen, Klose refused to accept a penalty given against Arminia Bielefeld as he felt the decision was incorrect. He was later given a fair play award for his actions. Most interestingly, he said he did not understand it as being fair play as he thought it is just how football should be played.
Then probably his most famous one, scoring with his hand against Napoli and, despite the referee awarding the goal, he admitted it was with his hand. The referee then chose not to give him a yellow card and shook his hand.
So of course, there are many ways to debate this. No one can say for certain it was a deliberate act of cheating from Roofe with the pace the ball flew at him.
The best point however that I think he made towards it was that it is no different to awarding free kicks and penalties. He said:
“It’s the same with other decisions, free-kicks and penalties. Some you get and some you don’t
“It’s up to the referee to make that decision. I’m just there to play the game.”
The refereeing has been a problem in the EFL for a long time. As obvious as the handball was, I don’t brand Roofe a ‘cheat.’ Therefore, it simply has to come down to the referee.
Further to the point, Aitor Karanka can keep moaning about it, but it is easy to do that as a manager. He’ll forget that he celebrated a clear handball goal by Raúl at the Bernabeu against Leeds. Raúl refused to admit it. Well at least Roofe did, so go away Aitor.
More controversy then occurred in Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Crystal Palace and Arsenal. So much so, Alexander Lacazette was outright blasted a cheat after producing an obvious handball assist to Aubameyang.
Then another huge talking point of the game, Wilfried Zaha winning Palace a penalty with six minutes remaining. Clear contact was made by Xhaka, however, Zaha virtually leapt to the floor as a result.
Zaha has been accused of simulation on multiple occasions and just last week came under criticism for a similar incident against Everton. It looked a clear foul but with Zaha delaying himself going to the floor, many criticised him. This does, of course, come down the frustration of only getting the penalty if you go to the floor.
Zaha replied on Instagram, saying:
“I normally wouldn’t do this but since everyone is giving me abuse today.. don’t go anywhere.”
Retrospectively, we must know cheating is just part of football, every week to some degree. The debate is there to be had about whether it is the referee’s job to get it right or should players be more honest.
At the end of the day, if a player is going out their way to cheat, of course, they won’t be honest because they are actively trying to deceive the officials. The only way to eradicate it is to hand out hefty punishments. Over to you, FA.