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Arsenal 3-1 Celtic. Focus on Arsenal’s “ED9”

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Edudive

This is where we left off from last week’s Battle of Britain, for this is about the second leg of the Champions League Qualifiers Play-Off stage between Arsenal and Celtic, which was played in Emirates Stadium, London. From last week’s encounter, Celtic was already trailing 0-2 from the first leg in Celtic Park, Glasgow. In this encounter, it was not much of a difference as they took a rather comprehensive 3-1 beatings at the hands of Arsenal which means that Celtic was defeated 5-1 on aggregate as well as having to contend for a place in the inaugural Europa League instead of participating in the lucrative Group Stages of the Champions League. Arsenal took the lead from Eduardo da Silva’s dubious, dubious penalty on the 28th minute. (This will be zeroed-in later) Then Arsenal further extended their lead through Emmanuel Eboue’s well taken shot from outside of the penalty area. Then, Arsenal scored their third goal of the night through Andrey Arshavin on the 74th minute, rounding off an impressive attacking moves from the Gunners’ players. At the last minute, Massimo Donati provided a useless consolation goal at the very last minute with a great shot from a wicked angle.

As could be seen from the very brief nature of the review of the actual match as well as from the photographs above the first paragraph, this article would focus more on the aforementioned dubious penalty which gave Arsenal the opening goal of the match as well as killing off any remaining hopes of Celtic to stage a rather impossible comeback to clinch a place in the lucrative Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The incident happened 28 minutes into the game, in which Eduardo was through on goal at the right hand side of Artur Boruc’s goalpost. Boruc tried to grasp the ball away from Eduardo using his hands while Eduardo tried to round-off the Polish international goalkeeper. However, horrible as it may have been seen, Eduardo tumbled on the pitch as if he had been tackled by Artuor Boruc, but Boruc was at least 5cm or even more than that from him. The horror story didn’t end there. The cameras were now focusing on Eduardo, who stood up and when the referee gave the dubious penalty to Arsenal, and when Eduardo realized that fact, millions of armchair fans could see a close-up of Eduardo’s smiling, or even smirking face. He seemed to be so happy that he had won a penalty, in other words, he wasn’t tackled by Boruc, but he dived to get that penalty and he earned it, and from his face’s expression, he was proud of his achievement. After stern protests from the Celtic players, the referee won’t budge and still gave the Gunners a penalty in which Eduardo himself duly dispatched by sending Boruc the wrong way with a rather weak but deceptive shot.

Even when the half time whistle was sounded, we could see in the broadcast that Artur Boruc approached the referee and was still sternly protesting, but of course to no avail. Anyways, even if the referee realized his mistake, there was nothing that he could do (remember Maradona’s Hand of God goal?) It was a deliberate dive, no matter how many times the replays are shown to us.

In my opinion, this is the kind of game in which it is not advisable to bring your kids to. After all, that particular incident was a horrible breach of the “Fair Play” rule. After all, all of us would want to see “Fair Play” being implemented in every game. It might be argued by some that diving is actually a tactic or a strategy, rather than a method of cheating. However, I still think that deliberate diving or any other means to gain an unfair advantage(s) in a game is still taking the values and even the dignity of the sport as a whole. Furthermore, if a player dives (or in one way or another attempting to gain an unfair advantage in a game), the aforementioned player has set a very bad example for the kids who witness the game.

After all, kids see and kids learn and imitate. If they are to pursue the Beautiful Game as a full-time career when they grow up, they would become a player who always dives to gain an unfair advantage as that is what they have been seeing in their growing up years when watching the games whether in the stadium or in the comfort of their own homes. Even if they do not eventually become a footballer, they would try to gain advantage in other aspects of their lives as well. For example, a child is having difficulties in his examination at school, instead of accepting the fact that he did not study hard enough for the aforementioned examination, he tried to gain an unfair advantage by perhaps secretly looking at his peers’ answers or even peeking at a prepared piece of small paper containing the test’s answers. Perhaps he does not realize it, but looking at his idols -to bluntly put it- cheating every week, he might be inspired and be inclined to do the same. This means that football is grooming adults with little or no integrity at all.

Back to the Eduardo incident. The child mentioned in the previous paragraph might resort to cheating because he is having difficulties in doing the questions on his exam paper, but for Eduardo’s case, neither he nor Arsenal was in a tight spot. Firstly, Eduardo could have passed the ball to a team mate or even with a little bit more effort able to round off Artur Boruc, and the latter would create a great football spectacle in the match! However, he somehow elected to dive and win the penalty even when Arsenal was already comfortable holdng a 2-0 lead with both of the goals being away goals.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s manager argued that Eduardo was simply “avoiding” dangerous contact with Boruc as he was traumatized by his horrifying experience in breaking and dislocating his ankle in a match. Well, Wenger makes sense here, who would not be traumatized after being injured like that? However, all of Wenger’s arguments are cancelled out just because of the fact that Eduardo was smiling proudly as can be seen on the collage at the beginning of this article. I have also scourged through the forums all over the internet and there are intense debates about this issue. Of course to the Arsenal fans, Eduardo was clipped by Artur Boruc by the thigh and thus he fell down while Celtic fans would show footage from the incident taken from video sharing websites to show that Eduardo was at least 5cm away from Boruc when he somehow fell down and calling for FIFA to ban Eduardo for his antics.

Whichever is the case, I think this is yet another controversy generated from the beautiful game. Many purists of the game would argue that it is incidents like this one which adds spices to the excitement of the game while advocates of Fair Play would condemn Eduardo’s action and calling for bans for Eduardo. In my opinion, Eduardo did himself no favor here. Much sympathy was drawn towards the player when he suffered the horrific injury last year, but as he comes back to the footballing scene, he deliberately dived to win a penalty with his team 2-0 up already on aggregate. In any case, that’s not a very nice way to announce your comeback from a long layoff.

Written by cp

27/08/2009 at 20:58

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