Relive this year's glittering awards ceremony
Watch all Sky Sports' Heineken Cup matches online
Sky Sports gets the key details and the opinion of expert pundits in reaction to England's World Cup draw.
Download the Sky Sports Ashes podcast to get closer to the Adelaide action!
Download our podcast as Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold talk about the big NFL issues.
We take an in-depth look at all the groups for next summer's World Cup in Brazil and pick the star men.
Relive ten memorable incidents from the season just gone and vote for your favourite in our poll.
Why are British fans so quick to condemn Spanish football? Guillem Balague starts the debate...Back to story
It is so annoying to watch as we are all told over and over again the best players in the world rolling around as if they have been shot. It is about time that the referee's in Spain got tough with the antics and started producing cards because as things stand at the moment, you can basically commit as many cynical fouls as you want and get away with it. Quite frankly if it does not get any better and british tv audiences fall, Spanish football will find itself consigned to Channel 4 or ESPN. Would like to think that maybe UEFA could set some guidelines for the blatant cheating that is witnessed not only in Spain but also England. However we are not allowed to say anything to them as we are deemed to be rocking the boat. Anyway what we would know, after all we only invented the game.
Posted 07:56 1st February 2012
lets set the record straight to everyone in spain and uk you both slag of the national teams but you have both only won the world cup once which is disgraceful considering everyone here is gloating about having the best teams, also the EPL is on a serious decline due to lack of funds and lack of dominance in Europe so league is now where near la liga in that sense aswell as fa in controversial decisions and foul play by players, but while always have 4 teams fighting for a trophy la liga ever since 2003-04 has now and will always will be a two horse race now matter what which is shame as it would be nice for la liga to be tighter they have nice football but the constant play acting when not actually being touched or injured is annoying now and it ruins most matches spanish fa is spineless more spineless than the english fa as i havent really seen any disciplinary come towards player for shocking act e.g pepe e.g sergio b and dani alves i perfectly undestand spanish culture since its part of my heritage but the hypocrites in the media of both nations are awful sort out the leagues governing bodies or both just the fuck up becaues we all know the nothing will happen until english fa or spanish fa( dont know why it exist) will most likely still be shit in the next 10 years epl unless boosted by euro dominance wont go anywhere and unless other la liga teams are funded it will always remain a 2 horse race
Posted 02:30 1st February 2012
Spanish football is appauling.. When a player gets clipped in the shoulder and goes down holding his face! Uefa should react upon this and issue bans!! This does not happen in the premier league, and if it was to happen, the fa would deal with it! Barcelona are the worst for this. On a number of occasions they did it against Real Madrid last game! This is cheating, trying to get the other team down to less men to take advantage of the extra man.. And as for the diving.. If a player was to get hit in a nightclub. Do you really think hes going to ground holding his face? Football soon may aswell become a non contact sport!
Posted 02:22 1st February 2012
I think there are a few reason players dive, 1) because there isn't really any consequence if you do it and the rewards are are benificial for their team to gain an advantage. 2) when players get fouled and the ref fails to see it they take the situation into their own hands and almost make the refs mind up for them. The fact is simply that some players make it look less theratical in the process. I think any real(proper) football fan knows that barcelona and real madrid are the teams most associated with world class football however not even stevie wonder can deny the disgraceful manner, and consistency in which diving occurs in spain. In one breath, Real and Barca make tonnes of money, have superstar players and draw the attention of a entire planet when they meet where they happily accept the praise. All we want is for the best team to win but with one crazy concept which seems to allude even the Mario ballotellis of the world - Fairness. For the record guilleme there are alot of english people who dont know anything about england let alone football. Im a proud englishman and proud of the premier leagu and i love and appreciate La Liga but our issues here are racism and i think that is the biggest issue in football worldwide.
Posted 20:12 31st January 2012
I think plain and simple that the two best teams in the world right now are barca and real (i don't think anyone can argue that). But every time i watch Spanish football I think technically the players seem outstanding. But the play acting i.e. rolling around, feigning injury and trying to get players sent off (players and managers) is wrong. This has started to creep into the english game in the last 5/6 years. But its has been a common theme in italy, Spain and mainly s.America for a long time now. And I think Guillem is right, it's a reflection of their culture. Take what Luis suarez did in the world cup..he was labelled a hero in Uruguay for that handball. I feel sorry for referees that they have to put up with this. I think any player seen to berate referees should be booked (and only captains can talk to the refs) and secondly any player rolling about injured who then 'clearly' gets up and carries on playing without a hint of injury should be disciplined to (but that could end up being very subjective-but possibly a panel could be set-up to review it).
Posted 19:41 31st January 2012
I am a Barcelona fan, and have been since I was 12 years old. I have watched spanish football on saturday and sunday nights on Sky Sports for almost 7 years now, especially Barcelona and Real Madrid. I can honestly say that niether team has ever appeared to promote any kind of culture which encourages cheating or gamesanship; that is, until Mourinho took over Madrid under the shadow of Barcelona's recent sucesses. I may be completley bias but I have noticed that the Clasicos whih have come under such scruitiny from British fans in recent years have only decended into chaos when Barcelona are completley on top. It is as if Madrid give up trying to win at football and resort to trying to bully, cheat or pressurise there way to victory. The rough tactics last arond 10 minutes whih then leads Barcelona to dive and bring everything to the attention of the referee. In the last couple of Clasicos, when Madrid were on top for spells, the referee was barley involved because Barcelona were not trying to bully the match back in to their favour
Posted 19:32 31st January 2012
hi guillem, i'm desperate for man united to sign 2 outstanding midfielders, and i believe spain have the best, how highly do you rate holding playmakers, bruno soriano of villareal and javi garcia benfica, and attacking midfielders anders herrera ,and muniain of bilbao and do you know of any united interest in any of them,also do you know if united are interested in the argentinian gaitan of benfica, would be greatful if you could answer the questions as i'd love to know, many thanks
Posted 18:32 31st January 2012
I for one don't judge an entire league on the action of one player. But the one stereotype I do think is a very real one is the cheating that goes on in La Liga. Diving is clever when it comes off but the rolling around to try and get an opponent sent off is what is most annoying. Barcelona are very good at this, which is a shame as they are the best side in the world and their club as a whole represents how all football clubs should be (creating players instead of buying success). I do agree with you though Guillem, some people love to stereotype an entire league based on a minority of players, which is probably just a tactic to make their national league look better. Personally I think La Liga is slightly behind the EPL in terms of quality of teams and only offer a few prospects of great games (all involving barca or rm) when compared to the top 7 teams of the EPL who produce great spectacles most of the time when they play eachother.
Posted 18:20 31st January 2012
I just wanted to say apart from the Top 2 la liga teams what good teams are actually in this league even serie A has more strength and depth in their league i.e milan, napoli, inter. Real madrid and Barcenlona are the two best teams in the world but those two on there own don't make a good league. Look at the premiership where we have Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man U, Man C and Liverpool, now that's a top 6 to be proud of, those teams can beat all of the teams outside the top 2 la liga teams with ease.
Posted 18:02 31st January 2012
I love La Liga its brilliant I gave up supporting Manchester United when they lost last years CL final and its so refreshing being able to sit in my armchair and not have to watch teams like Stoke City pollute my TV screen with their bully boy tactics. If men want to fall over when another man comes near them to try and gain their team an advantage then so be it. And also passing is an art form, theres is nothing more enjoyable than watching a team calmly stroke the ball around in their half for minutes at a time without having to worry about their nasty opponents coming to try and ruin the spectacle. All in all Spanish football is meant to be enjoyed by TRUE football fans like me and the EPL is ran by thugs who just dont understant
Posted 17:35 31st January 2012
You r a highly respected pundit mr Guillemo, keep it up n good luck.. Well classico is the biggest football game ever, n it always lives up to the billing, in terms of atmosphere, tackles, passes, hungy n many more.. Now coming to you question, pepe should be blamed n should take responsibility of he's actions cos we do not want players deliberately tryn to hurt another pro. And the league n club respectively should offer more help to players in terms of protection. As for Spain being critised all the time lol. Bruva u need not worry, they play the most beautiful football, have the best technically gifted players, embarrassed with abundances of goalkeepers. So please explain to me why Spain shouldn't be blamed? There's an old saying, " a man without eniemies is as good as dead". If u doing sometime right u got to have enemies n Spain is the everything right at the moment, so welcome ur haters or welcome ur hugely envious peoples or countries, cos everyone wna beat Spain or be like Spain... But sayn that tho premier league is still number one in the world, no doubt. My verdict!
Posted 17:35 31st January 2012
I am not surprised that the Man U fan thinks diving is not cheating. He is wrong, IT IS! The object of the players is to score goals & prevent the others from doing so, within the rules of the game. In spanish football it appears that the object is to get a free kick or penalty. I do not have statistics but the amount of penalties and penalty claims in spanish football is astronomical. The other objective is to get opposing players sent off or booked. Gamesmanship is using the rules to your advantage, and use of psychology to break opponents concentration. Cheating is dishonest and shows lack of moral fibre and lack of respect for the fans and the game. You may think people think unfairly of spaniards....but remember this is a nation that sent fully healthy able bodied players to the Paralympic Games to play in intellectually disabled basketball tournament and won. It appears that blatant and downright dishonesty is accepted in psain in a manner other countries would not. Chuleria Barata of that kind is simply not cricket.
Posted 17:09 31st January 2012
refs need to be more strict when they see players diving and this is the only way to stop all the cheating, diving, play acting. it should be a straight red for diving. the managers would soon be telling there players not to dive/go down to easy when there gettin 3/4 players sent off each game
Posted 17:00 31st January 2012
i like this topic, even more so that manure fans have written in, the borefest team and the borefest fans that are present in the EPL, esp millions in the uk never been to the ground. I like the Rod the nod the Fierce comment esp, singling out barca. Why not madrid? oh i see why. Anyhow the cow goes on to say that barca understand the inconsistencies and profit from manipulating them. he admits that theirs cheating from epl, but never mentions manu utd. their fans shudnt even have a say in this. the amount of times nani, rooney ronaldo dived, the times neville fletcher, scholes, keane (not a footballer they way he kicked out if u ask me) fouled, kicked and never even got booked baffled me. this esp agesnt better teams like arsenal. the amount of times the pathetic commentators/media hyped up. what makes it worse is manure play boring football, how many games has ref helped even when manure utd has played utterly rubbish, had no shots on goal etc.
Posted 16:53 31st January 2012
It's as simple as this, if it happens more in a certain country, the whole country will get stereotyped. How do you stop this? By cutting down on diving, booking more of the players for doing it, and whichever country the match is played in, the fans, the governing body, the managers, should all be completely against it, this is why it happens less in England; yes it still happens, but when it does, the player is made to feel ashamed, and like a cheat. As they should.
Posted 15:01 31st January 2012
Richard Monyei's comment that diving is not cheating is just the type of mentality that is poisoning the game of football. The idea that when contact is made you should fall over. Disgraceful! A free kick should follow a foul and a foul is not committed by purely touching off a player. Your time would be better spent on the training ground perfecting how to get by the player rather than learning how to cheat. And make no mistake about it. Diving is cheating. If you want to perfect your diving go to your local swimming pool and stay off the football pitch. The FA and the football governing bodies need to tackle this by imposing heavier fines and suspensions on players that continue with this form of cheating. I am also a supporter of the idea that any player approaching a ref to contest a decision should be yellow carded. As in rugby only the captain should be permitted to question the ref.
Posted 14:33 31st January 2012
@Kevin Watson. Really? Pretty much all of what you said in that post is BS. I do agree with one thing and that is Barca and Real are probably the best two teams in the world. But La liga better than EPL? No way. Those two teams are so much ahead of everyone else in that league it seems pointless. EPL that matches are closer fought more physical and MUCH faster paced. I agree that diving happens but in no way near the extent of La Liga. Commenting on what Guillem said, it's not the fact we are blaming it on the Spanish nation it's La Liga. The referees have the power to stamp out all the play acting and diving but they don't.
Posted 13:40 31st January 2012
All these problems/issues are fundemental in todays game. For some reason play acting/gamesmanship/cheating, seems to be perfectly acceptable these days within football. Yet hard/fair challenges are being eradicated from the game. The ridiculous scenes that go on in penalty areas everytime there is a set piece, blocking, holding, shirt pulling etc. This is something that for me is a continental trait, before the EPL I can't remember that much 'gamesmanship' going on in the penalty areas. However because over the last 15-20 years the influx of foreign players and coaches has been massive, the English game was always going to go that way, don't get me wrong there have been massive advantages for our game as well with this influx. Putting everything into context I can relate to some people's view that in the spanish game it does seem to be more obvious and unfortunately the officials seem more willing to let things go on than would happen in some other european leagues. The spanish league is just the worst of a bad bunch. UEFA/FIFA need to concentrate on what is really killing the game of football from a fans perspective and eradicate as much of this gamesmanship/cheating as possible or the trend will continue and the game will become more farcical than it already is.
Posted 13:09 31st January 2012
Hi Guillem, I have followed Real Madrid since the days of Hugo Sanchez and Michel etc. I have followed them almost as long as Liverpool in the Premier lesgue. The only thing that has dissappointed me in recent classico's is the play acting that has crept into them and the antics of some but not all of the players at times. The reality is that la Liga is far superior to the English premier league in terms of technical ability and that is where in my opinion England constantly fall down on both the European and World stage. The actions of any player on a football field are firstly respective of that Individual not his/ her nationality and anyone trying to blame a culture is deluded. i don't think anyone out there who is worth there salt would care if a player from Dublin or a player from Portugal scored the goal that won there team a major honour. The classico in terms of tension is no different to Rangers v Celtic, or Arsenal v Chelsea. When Rooney got his 3 game ban for kicking out at an opponent not once did anyone try to say oh he did it because he's English and that's there culture because we all know that's rubbish and anyone who makes claims to that effect quite obviously does not understand football. At the end of the day the responsibility for onfield antics lies with the 22 players on the field at the time and also the respective managers of those clubs. Football is a great sport and people should rightly be punished for any behaviour on a football field that does not belong and I include Real Madris and Liverpool players in this. Here's to a cracking end to La Liga and EPL seasons.
Posted 11:59 31st January 2012
Hi Guillem, I don't really see much difference between the two leagues when it comes to the behaviour of the players and managers. Both the Premier League and La Liga have players who play act, players/managers waving imaginary cards and players chasing after officials. The only real difference I can see is that the FA seem to act more on incidents - with the recent action taken against Mario Balotelli a clear example, whereas Pepe failed to receive a ban.
Posted 11:41 31st January 2012