Time to act

Image: Ronaldo: Caused controversy

Peter Fraser thinks Uefa needs to take action against the growing trend of playacting in football.

Peter Fraser thinks that Uefa needs to take action against the growing trend of playacting in football

Prior to Wednesday night's UEFA Champions League match between AC Milan and Real Madrid at the San Siro, Cristiano Ronaldo gave an interview to Sky Sports television in order to promote a dandy new pair of football boots. Having been questioned on all things football, the former Manchester United superstar was quizzed about his spanking, safari print Nikes and his response can be summarised as, 'they're beautiful, like me'. "What a confident young man...", or words to that effect, was the response from watching members of the skysports.com football desk. It was evident that Ronaldo has lost none of his famous swagger from his days in the Premier League, the sort of psychological self-assurance that attracted the interests of Paris Hilton in Los Angeles in June 2009. It was like being reunited with an old friend. Ronaldo is undoubtedly missed since he left for the Bernabeu last summer. With build-up interviews done and dusted, watching the Portuguese on the field at the San Siro also provided a reminder of his brilliant physiological attributes. The incredible talent, lightning speed and ferocious power that tore England's top flight apart with almost unwavering consistency were on full display. Unfortunately, so were the negative aspects of Ronaldo's game. The Portuguese failed to get on the scoresheet in Real's eventual 2-2 draw against Milan, despite playing in 'I can do this on my own' mode.

Temper tantrum

Frustration got the better of the 25-year-old and in the 24th minute he caused an angry, mass scuffle after falling to the ground, clutching his face, after being accidentally tapped in the neck by Milan's Ignazio Abate as the pair battled for control on a touchline. It appeared that Milan's world-famous Teatro Alla Scala had been relocated such were the theatrics of almost operatic proportions on display. Ronaldo's playacting was inexcusable. The only thing missing was a wink. The act was another case of an ever-developing trend in football. It is no longer considered enough to 'dive' to the ground in search of a penalty. It is a pre-determined tactic to attempt to get an opponent sent off at any moment in a match. Think Rivaldo against Turkey in the 2002 World Cup, or even as far back as Diego Simeone against England in the 1998 World Cup. Simulation to win a penalty or free-kick under a tackle is an unsavoury part of the game, but the common defence is that it is almost instinct in the heat of the moment. See Jurgen Klinsmann versus Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final, Eduardo versus Celtic in 2009, or Francis Jeffers versus Liverpool in 2002. The playacting that is becoming a disease in the game is far worse. Ronaldo's charge sheet is almost endless. Usually accompanied by a slap of hands to the floor and a temper tantrum, the most galling part of his actions is the exaggeration of his antics.
Amateur dramatics
When hitting the deck against Milan, the 2008 Ballon D'Or and World Player of the Year left a clear delay between Abate's hand making clipped contact with his throat and actually rolling on the floor while waiting for referee Howard Webb. It was despicable to watch. Webb decided a ticking off for Ronaldo and Abate was sufficient. It was harsh for Abate and a let-off for Ronaldo. It should be pointed out that this is not a personal character assassination against Ronaldo. Remember Kader Keita against Kaka at this summer's World Cup? Or even search YouTube for former Duisburg manager Robert Meier head-butting then Cologne midfielder Albert Streit for some incredible amateur dramatics. The fact is that Ronaldo's antics on Wednesday night have reignited the debate surrounding playacting. Uefa needs to take action if referees do not punish the fakers on the field. Video evidence should, and must, be used to catch the actors. Suspensions would soon address the issue and make players reconsider their actions. If they are aware that they could be caught in the act and potentially even hit with a financial fine there would soon be a decrease in the frequency. Never mind calls for state-of-the-art goalline technology, simply viewing footage of matches on a consistent basis is a priority to cure the increasing menace of playacting.

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