England must embrace the dark arts if they want to win the European Championship
- Euro 2016 news: All the latest ahead of the European Championship
- Jamie Vardy has been criticised for 'winning' a penalty against Turkey
- Roy Hodgson backed Leicester striker after he was sent off for diving
- England have had their World Cup dreams crushed by gamesmanship
Cheating isn’t great, diving isn’t a positive for the game, but it happens, and anyone who leads any ill-thought-out campaign to stamp out diving is wasting their time.
And so it puzzles me why people bang on and on about Jamie Vardy ‘winning’ penalties. Sure it’s not great, but after all the pain England have suffered because of disgraceful decisions and cheating at tournaments over the years there would be something sweet about winning the Euros because of a dodgy penalty.
And anyway, is what Vardy is doing such a terrible thing? He’s running full pace, puts his body between the defender and the ball and goes over when contact is made. Is it such a big deal? Is he pretending to be injured? No. He’s just giving his team the best chance to win the game and he’s prepared to put his own personal reputation on the line for that. I admire that commitment.
England's Jamie Vardy looks to German referee Deniz Aytekin after being brought down in the penalty area
I’ll highlight my own dilemma on this issue first though: my heart wants England to win at all costs. Win the European Championship, or stay on your feet in the box for the good of the game? You can send that moral high horse to the knackers yard,
I want to see England lift the trophy. I don’t want some UEFA prat ruffling England’s football hair and saying how well we’ve done to win the Fair Play Award. I don’t want to end up being one of those vegetarians who constantly craves a bacon sandwich thank you.
So if it’s a straight debate about diving then of course it’s a bad thing. The reality is that we will never eliminate it from the game, so we just have to deal with it. The subsequent question is this: do we want England to be the only ones upholding the moral fortitude of the game while everyone else incorporates falling over into their game and benefits from it? Seems ridiculous when you look at it like that.
I grew up in a house that only had a black and white TV. Cost was prohibitive, but my mum used to say she preferred black and white to colour TV. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever, especially when I was watching snooker. It was a generation thing: she was a woman unable to grasp modern day realities. Like those who long for vinyl, or who only use their mobile for phone calls. They’re limiting themselves unnecessarily.
The 29-year-old falls to the ground following a challenge from the Turkish defensive midfielder
So England need to embrace gamesmanship, cheating, the dark arts, whatever you want to call it.
Like the USA did when they roped in a complete and utter foreigner to score their winning goal against England in the 1950 World Cup. Joe Gaetjens was born in Haiti, and played for Haiti. But in his twenties he washed dishes in New York, which somehow qualified him for the USA side. He was never ever a USA citizen, and in fact played for Haiti again three years later.
In 1986 Diego Maradona punched the ball into the back of the net to beat England, but two games later it was forgotten and he was hailed as the best player in the world as Argentina lifted the World Cup.
Vardy (left) goes to the ground following a collision with Arsenal's Nacho Monreal which results in a penalty
In the same quarter final, Gary Lineker had a great chance to equalise but allowed a defender to clear. Lineker should have used any part of his body to make absolutely sure that ball hit the back of the net – even if it meant punching the ball in.
Lineker was a terrific striker, but instead of being remembered as a World Cup winner, he’s remembered as a player who never got booked. Like anyone cares. I would have been much happier had he cheated and equalised.
Italia 90, the Germans get Gazza booked by rolling around. In 1998 Argentina make sure David Beckham’s stupidity is punished with red by crying and pretending to be injured.
Vardy (left) collides in the penalty area with West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna and receives a second yellow card
Germany 2006 the winker Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Wayne Rooney sees red in the quarter finals of the World Cup.
South Africa 2010 the Germans carry on despite knowing full well Frank Lampard’s effort crossed the line (if only they had the class of Arsene Wenger – remember when he offered to replay that Cup tie with Sheffield United in 1999? That was the right and proper course of action).
Most of the time England have been useless in tournaments, but there is a clear pattern of England being cheated out of World Cups, and all we ever do is roll over and take it.
I’m an England fan, and I don’t like diving and cheating, but if that’s what others are doing, then that’s what we need to do. Otherwise the rest of the football world will laugh at us. Again. Keep on doing what you’re doing Jamie Vardy.
Cristiano Ronaldo winked at Portugal bench after Wayne Rooney was sent off in 2006 World Cup quarter-final
David Beckham was sent off as England were beaten on penalties by Argentina at 1998 World Cup in France
Frank Lampard's effort crossed the line but ref failed to spot it and England crashed out of the 2010 World Cup
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