The World Cup ended on Sunday, this would normally be a time of introspection, blanking out England's latest failures and saluting the victors who through their genius triumphed over lesser souls. I can't do that today. Italy winning the World Cup has left me with a empty feeling thumping against the pit of my stomach. The sport's champions reflect every nasty wrong currently seen in every league, from the Gods of the game to mortals who hack at each other every Sunday. To misquote the Welsh football commentator Peter Jones;
"Football has died. The Cheats have won."*
I can not take pleasure in the Italians winning, their victory is based not on Marcello Lippi's tactics, but diving and violent play. That FIFA cowed and allowed de Rossi to participate after his deliberate elbow on the USA's Brian McBride is nothing short of disgraceful. Yet why am I surprised? FIFA are more concerned with preening than the good of the game. Italy have won the World Cup, but they are champions in cheating only.
Any player who dives should receive a retrospective red card and a 5 match ban. This would eradicate the cynical type of play that Italy have revelled in. Any player that urges another to be cautioned should be sent off and receive a 3 match ban. Players are gods only through the genius of the play, not the spin on the egos.
*The real quote is "Football has died. The hooligans have won" and was delivered whilst commentating for BBC Radio 2 on the 1985 European Cup Final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels where 39 supporters were crushed to death. I don't wish to trivialise that awful event, but want to just highlight the emotion behind Italy's victory.