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Fans' reaction exposes fascinating cultural divide, says Guillem

Guillem Balague - Guillem Balague Posted 6th May 2011 view comments

There is still a lot of debate about supposed cheating and diving in Spanish football.

Many people who don't follow La Liga used the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid to generalise very dangerously about Spanish football; some people went even further to comment on the Spanish culture.

Fall guy: Barcelona's Andres Iniesta is upended at the Bernabeu

Fall guy: Barcelona's Andres Iniesta is upended at the Bernabeu

While I agree that some of what we saw in that match - a huge derby with massive consequences - was disgusting and embarrassing, a lot of what happened is widespread throughout football, by which I mean in Italy, Germany, England and beyond.

That doesn't excuse it, but it should broaden the debate.

I've read that in England only the captain is allowed to approach the referee, but countless times I've seen more than three or four players take matters into their own hands.

I'm fascinated by how wound up people in England get about diving and faking injury. In Spain, a bit of that is considered clever - it is part of the culture; most of the time, though, I agree it is embarrassing.

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These aren't isolated incidents either, which suggests problems surrounding player behaviour are not peculiar to Spain alone.

I'm fascinated by how wound up people in England get about diving and faking injury.

In Spain, a bit of that is considered clever - it is part of the culture; most of the time, though, I agree it is embarrassing.

Just as the first leg attracted a lot of criticism in England, so it did in Spain too. Players aren't allowed to get away with it and we saw fewer antics in the second leg.

In Spain, people seem to get more wound up when their team can't string more than three passes together.

At the end of the day it comes down to different countries with different cultures. I'll be exploring this issue in greater depth in the coming weeks because it really interests me.

Guillem answers your questions...

Got a question for Guillem? Then send it in here or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week.

Hi Guillem, I am a Scotland fan and will be travelling to Spain in October for the Spain v Scotland game. You are obviously aware that Spain do not have a national stadium and move their games from city to city. I have been told that cities bid for games and if this is true, do you have any idea who is bidding for the game or where the game will be played? Thanks, John Findlay

GUILLEM SAYS: I'm sorry to say, John, that there is no decision yet on where that game will take place. What tends to happen is that the Federation makes a deal to stage matches like this with the people they owe favours to. They may well end up playing the game in a stadium like Granada, for instance, because it has the added benefit of taking the national team to a different part of the country.

Hi Guillem, I was wondering if Manchester United's pursuit of David de Gea has progressed? Atletico Madrid's President Enrique Cerezo has recently confirmed that the club has made the player an offer for a fresh contract and, as it has seemingly been for a while, it all rests on the player's choice. Also has the Spanish goalkeeper agreed a deal for Jorge Mendes to be his agent from the summer onwards (same agent as United's Nani, Anderson, Bebe and Real's Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho)? Finally is the player any closer to making his next career step? Shane Farrington

GUILLEM SAYS: Everyone remains very patient with de Gea, which can only be right as he has a big decision to make. His current contract with his agent expires in either May or June, depending on who you believe, so the race is on for his signature. At this time I believe Mendes is the frontrunner of a group of agents that are after him, but the player has yet to make a final decision. Manchester United have spoken to de Gea and everybody is now waiting for his decision. All I can say is be patient, people!

Hello Guillem, I am an avid watcher of Spanish football, absolutely love the column and love the sky sports coverage! I keep hearing you saying that Mourinho at Madrid already has two new signings lined up for the summer, but my question to you is who are they? I can't imagine them keeping hold of Emmanuel Adebeyor with the likes of Higuain and Kaka recently returning to full fitness, as they already have such a wealth of attacking options. Where do you think they are going to strengthen? And with what players? James Hickling

GUILLEM SAYS: Hi James, as I've already mentioned on Twitter (@GuillemBalague) and my webpage, José María Callejón of Espanyol is one, as is Nuri Sahin of Borussia Dortmund. In the case of Sahin, the clubs have negotiated a deal and the player will make a decision over the weekend. At the moment Adebayor has been told that no decision has been made about his future; we'll have to see if he keeps putting the effort in, but so far it's been so far, so good for him. Kaka and Benzema, though, will be put up for sale

Comments (9)

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Vik Deen (Manchester United fan) says...

diving happens all over the world in every single league but i'm sorry guillem as a fan of the spanish league and premier league i have to say it much more rife in spain. fouls are given much more easily and cards are produced (in general) much more easily. it was dissapointing that in the champions league a potentially great game was spoiled by terrible antics. real madrid's antics in the copa del rey final we're shocking but i believe barca were the worst of the two teams in the champions league. busquests, alves and mascherano were the worst offenders and it did cost real what seemed to be a legitimate goal. it was such a shame because in parts some of the football (particularly from barca) was stunning. i think there shud be some serious action taken against both teams because cheating on that scale is a terrible advert for football....the game became at times a farce. i think barca hav lost a lot of fans on the continent with their antics i know i personally find it difficult to look at their team in the same way. i just hope that the final is contested in a better spirit, with a honest approach and with a strong and competent referee.....

Posted 16:14 6th May 2011

James G (Newcastle United fan) says...

Hi Guillem, I am a massive fan of yours but there is nowhere near as much diving in the premiership as in la liga!! Barca completely ruined the semi finals and i really hope Man U win the final even though i am a Newcastle fan. Real did the same against tottenham, despite being the better side the over reaction from Marcelo and then the celebration after crouch was sent off was ridiculous. I hope there is a strong referee in the final otherwise the final between the two best teams in the world will be ruined.

Posted 15:40 6th May 2011

Rocky Shorr (Burnley fan) says...

Hi Guillem, I cannot think for the life in me why football is called the beautiful game!!! If you haven't had someone 'sent off' through diving and feigning injury then you've had a bad game. What I would like to see is, if a player needs the assistance of a medical team after a foul. Then, that player should be sidelined for a mandatory 10mins while his injury responds to treatment.....How much diving would we see then?

Posted 15:23 6th May 2011

Nigel Cooper (Chelsea fan) says...

Guillem Like the article but I do begin to wonder as to what type of player does the I've been shot by a sniper triple salko and doble lutz followed a 4 or 5 death roll. I would also say that you would not get a Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Steven Gerard or Frank Lampard doing that unless my memory is severely failing me players of this ilk try to win by fair means most of the time, yes the odd foul possibly even a professional foul but not downright cheating clutching their face when they have had their toe trodden on at worst

Posted 15:12 6th May 2011

Chris Bell (Real Madrid fan) says...

Hi guillem,I think your right people do dive every where in the world but in Spain it does seem to happen a good few times every game!I see real Madrid have signed 2 players already!but I wad wondering where do you think they need to strengthen to beat barcelona and which players could do the job?thanks keep up the good work

Posted 14:04 6th May 2011

James S (Arsenal fan) says...

hi guillem, i also watch la liga every week and for you to say the barca- madrid game where players like busquets and alves and co through themselves to the floor whenever someone got near to them was a one off is not true it happens in nearly every game i watch and even though diving does happen in most countries it is not as bad and done as often as in spainish league games which is why when it happened in the 1st leg of the semis that it was made such a big deal of. i think the f.a's of each country should be reviewing each match and charging players and teams who use this tactic to gain advatage and it will soon stop it

Posted 13:36 6th May 2011

Josh Daniels (Newcastle United fan) says...

Hi guillem I support newcastle united and admire jose enrique very much as he is a fantastic young talent but my question is with us being in desperate need for a striker and the succes of enrique from a spanish team do you know of any spanish strikers or strikers from spanish teams that newcastle could get a hold of as i would love llorente but we just could not afford him.

Posted 13:24 6th May 2011

Adam Whiting (Wolverhampton Wanderers fan) says...

Kaka to sign for wolves in the summer even if they go down and benzema to sign if they stay up! you heard it here first!!!!!!

Posted 13:24 6th May 2011

Ben Morton (Manchester United fan) says...

Hi Guillem, was interested to read you saying that a bit of diving and feigning injury is considered clever in Spain. You're right its definately a cultural thing because diving and then rolling around in "agony" is the one thing in football above all others I abhore. Even as a fan of team that likes to play football, i'd far far rather see a team play physically and maybe occasionally cross the line than one who's players fall over everytime they are touched. It breaks the game up, ruins the flow and enjoyment and above all is truly pathetic to watch. I'd love to see UEFA bring in retrospective yellows for diving. Barca did themselves no favours in either of the Champions league games against Real, and a team we should be admiring for their wonderful play was being barracked as bunch of cheats by the end of the tie. For the 2nd leg I was sat in a pub with about 200 people almost all of whom started the game supporting Barca. I've never seen an entire crowd switch allegiance like they did in that match, by half time everyone was pulling for Real, and by the end Barca's win was greated with boos and dissapointment.

Posted 13:07 6th May 2011

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