• John Carlin, the famous British journalist and author (his ‘Playing the Enemy’ was the basis for the film ‘Invictus’), wrote a weighty critique on the English press’ treatment of foreign ‘divers’ in the English game, specifically Luis Suarez.
  • He particularly accuses this of being a cultural issue, citing the sanctimonious and chauvinistic behaviour exhibited by Alex Ferguson, Michael Owen and many commentators in the English press.

“…we have made an important discovery: that the English (but not necessarily, the Welsh) are better cheaters than Suarez and company”.


Original Spanish Link: “The English are the greatest actors”


-English Translation-

“I’d rather fail with honour than succeed by tricking”  – Sophocles

Recently, a debate has surged in English football over what Pepe, the Real Madrid centre back, would call the issue of ‘actors’. Throughout the last week and a half, the sporting pages have been writing about little else. And the guilty parties, with more frequency, are those who bring the most quality to the Premier League: foreign players.

The ‘theatre / acting’ in which they refer to does not have much to do with the act of exaggerating an infraction from a rival; wringing yourself on the ground with the objective of getting your rival booked or sent off. That is not a big issue in England. For one reason, there exists the serious possibility that you would not be forgiven (for doing that) by your own supporters.

The theatrical variant that has provoked the most recent form of criticism in England is that known in Spanish as: “diving into the pool”. That is to say, faking a penalty by diving in your rival’s penalty area when they have barely touched you. Alex Ferguson, the Scottish manager of Manchester United, initiated these hostilities when he declared that: “There are many players that dive, and we have to recognize this, especially with the foreign players”.

Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan forward of Liverpool, would seem to be trying to compete with John Terry for the title of the “Premier League’s #1 bad boy”. He appeared to confirm Ferguson’s thoughts a few days later. Suarez, who has already been punished—like Terry—for ‘supposed’ racist behavior, produced a spectacular and inept dive in his rival’s (Stoke City’s) penalty area. On top of that, he seemed indignant when the referee didn’t blow for anything.

However, Ferguson’s ‘thesis’ is not sustained at all with these actions. The other great theatrical protagonist of the week was Gareth Bale, who is Welsh, and, one would think, would not enter in Alex Ferguson’s concept of a foreigner. He also dove, thing that, for certain, he does with much frequency. This is without excluding his disgraceful attempt to trick the referee, with a goal of winning a penalty, during a Champions League match a few years ago between Tottenham and Real Madrid.

Nevertheless, and demonstrating Alex Ferguson’s same chronic blind chauvinism, the English media have focused all of their ire this week on Suarez, the emblem, it would seem, of this imported culture of trickery that many have chosen to see in the Premier League. In reality, it would seem that the real issue is that of “auto-trickery” (tricking oneself). This was seen in the comments made by the ex- Real Madrid and ex- International Englishman, Michael Owen.

Owen was surprisingly honest in confessing that he had dove many times in his rival’s area, including in World Cups against Argentina, when in truth he could have easily stayed on his feet. The Englishman, who is in the autumn, or really, the winter era (dying days) of his career, sustained that ¾ of professional players who fall in the penalty area could have stayed on their feet. But he insisted, curiously, in making a distinction between his personal specialty; that disastrous invention that, according to him, was brought by foreigners into England. His argument was that the way he did it was justifiably respected, because it required cunningness and intelligence, while blatantly diving “into the pool” was immoral. “I have never looked for a penalty when not being touched”, he said, “but it is true that you try to push the boundaries of the rules to the limit in order to win a match, although without tricking anyone”.

As if he was recognizing at that moment that he was contradicting himself, Owen explained that in order to understand the subtlety of his thoughts, you had to be a professional player. Possibly. Or, better said: Does Owen think that we’re all really that stupid? That we don’t see his hypocrisy? The difference between one thing and the other is not moral; the true difference is that some know how to ‘trick’ more than others. And if it is true that the foreign players of the Premier League are the ones who easily cheat, then we have made an important discovery: that the English (but not necessarily, the Welsh) are better cheaters than Suarez and company. And one more thing. We have re-affirmed through football, what we knew from our own experiences with theatre and cinema: the English are very good actors.


Translated by: Alvaro Perez
Toronto, Canada
@foxfang4 for Spanish to English translations based on football news sources.