World Flop Cup

In spite of what I'm about to say (and in spite of an early U.S. exit) I'm thoroughly enjoying watching the World Cup. Even though I played soccer for most of my childhood and teen years, I don't follow the sport that closely on the professional level. So it's been nice to have it take center stage (relatively speaking) for a brief period and to see the passion of the game taken to an even greater level.

But there's one aspect of the game at this level of international play that's really off-putting, even to a former player such as myself - the flopping.

Growing up, I never really experienced this portion of the 'gamesmanship' of soccer, at least on any widespread level. I don't know why, but it just never occurred to us to bother trying. Maybe it was part naivety, part cultural upbringing. But if you got hit, you picked yourself up immediately, continued playing and let the ref decide whether or not it was a valid foul. Or you were either genuinely hurt and stayed down (although you still did your best to pick yourself up and keep going in spite of the pain.)

With that mindset and background considered, it's more than a little disappointing to see extremely talented athletes cheapening an otherwise excellent game with their constant dives and over exaggeration of any minor physical contact. It even goes a step further at this level complete with supporting actors when you factor in the trainers and medics. They rush onto the field with the stretcher while the guy pretends to be in agony. Then they cart him off the field, give him a sip of water and suddenly he's off streaking down the field again 20 seconds later as if nothing ever happened (because it never did.)

What's sad is that it actually works too. The refs constantly award fouls based on these flops. So it's no wonder that the players continue to drop like flies anytime a defender gets within 10 yards of them.

This won't happen, but I'd personally like to see them counter this by placing another ref on the field (maybe even 2 more, in addition to the linesmen) to have more eyes covering the field and to take less pressure off the main referee. Stop rewarding the floppers with penalties and maybe even start yellow-carding them outright when it's a particularly egregious fake.

It's a cultural thing and I know people from other parts of the world would likely think this perspective is ridiculous as it's an accepted part of the game elsewhere. But if a former player such as myself has a problem with this, I can only imagine what non-soccer fans here in the U.S. must think whenever they watch a game. It definitely won't do anything to help rectify the common American belief that soccer is a 'nancy boy' sport when you have guys faking a broken ankle because they could feel the breath from an opposing defender.


Adam said...

yes brother.......i too am completely dorked out on it. i can't get enough of it. currently my browser start up page is the world cup page.

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