Friday, December 09, 2011

Cheats, Divers and Bad Decisions

Sone Aluko got banned for diving.

Garry O'Connor got away with diving.

Ergo the new disciplinary procedures in place at the SFA are ridiculous and hellbent on making a mockery of the Scottish game. At best.

At worst the new procedures have been all but designed to penalise one team above others.

The new compliance officer and fast track appeal system is inconsistent, wrongheaded and - this being Scottish football - its cack-handedness is but a handy cover for some form of discrimination or favouritism.

That would be the conclusion you would draw from some of the more hysterical outpourings that greeted the news that Aluko's two game ban had been upheld yesterday.

I'd disagree.

My opinion: O'Connor dived and got lucky in his dealings with the panel. Aluko dived and got treated the way he should have been treated.

That might be an unfortunate turn of events for everyone but Hibs - those that believe in karma might afford themselves a wry smile - but it doesn't give us evidence enough to judge what has been quite a revolutionary change from the SFA.

So far the compliance officer has been faced with two similar incidents. He's made exactly the same call.

The independent panel - different panels in both cases - disagreed in the first case and agreed in the second.

We need a far bigger sample before we can properly conclude if the new system is working.

The idea that Aluko should have been cleared because O'Connor was cleared is odd. Every case will have differences and two wrongs don't make a right.

If the person who is tried for shoplifting before me gets off because the jury make a bad call should I expect to get off? Any disciplinary system that is forced to duplicate its weakest decisions will be destined to fail.

Ally McCoist fumed that the SFA had labelled his player a "cheat."

Well, yes, they had. Because that's what diving is. Cheating. They thought he'd dived so they punished him. I trust McCoist will avoid making any judgements about bad decisions that go against his team this season if the opposing manager protests that the player in question isn't a cheat.

We rage against the SFA for being an organisation of dinosaurs. Then we rage against them when they try and modernise.

That will lead us to an ungovernable game.

Will the new system be perfect? Of course it won't. That such decisions still rely on people to interpret events will lead to some differences in opinion.

Football's imperfect like that. That used to be part of its charm.

> Why a two game ban when a dive penalised in a game merits only a yellow card?

A dive caught in a game doesn't affect the outcome of the match. By deceiving the referee, and it's my opinion that Aluko was guilty of that, he won Rangers a penalty that might - not definitely but perhaps - have denied Dunfermline the chance to get something from the game.

Seems fair enough - although it does Dunfermline bugger all good - that his retrospective punishment should reflect that.

> As ever the focus seems to be on the SFA and the referee.

I would ask why Steve Conroy - and I suspected from watching it that his clear view may have been obstructed by Martin Hardie - didn't take a bit more time, perhaps consult with his linesman, before making the call.

Often, one feels, it would do our referees no harm if they just calmed down a bit and bought themselves a few seconds of composure.

But it's the players that dive. The idea - put around by any number of pundits - that it's part of the game and happens everywhere is wearing thin.

It's cheating. If players don't like being called cheats they should stop cheating.

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  1. I was planning on doing a piece on diving in general, and the punishment that goes with it. Will be sure to reference this, you summed up most of the points on the latest events pretty accurately. 

    I'm still miffed at the O'Connor one though - how a 'Fast Track Tribunal' decided that the player hadn't dived, not even taking into account the Hibs assistant manager ADMITTING his player had, was ridiculous. It was, for want of a better word, blatant! 

  2. Good article.One thing that bugs me is when commentators/pundits/players/managers trot out the old 'there was contact!' line.Its a contact sport,the question should always be was it a foul.

  3. Cheers Laurie

    Inclined to agree but perhaps Garry knows his way around a courtroom argument better than you or I!


  4. Brian Milne wrote:

    "Good article.One thing that bugs me is when commentators/pundits/players/managers trot out the old 'there was contact!' line.Its a contact sport,the question should always be was it a foul."

    Totally agree Brian. Given the prevalence of that opinion one does suspect that this how players are now trained. 


  5. Good item.  O'Connor got lucky is a good point, Aluko did cheat.  Rangers are not used to being held to account and I wonder if McCoist will be called to answer for his comments?

  6. Garry O'Connor has possibly had far more experience with the law, and legal matters, than your or I could even begin to imagine.... ;-)

  7. Cheers. "Spot on." Or not, as the case may be.

  8. Appears not. Although I'm two minds about that. While I think he was out of order - about a system his club backed - I'm not sure how healthy it is for this to drag on. Mind you, that maybe makes me as guilty as those pundits who say a bit of diving is OK.


  9. A shameless plug for my own thoughts on the contact side of things - as I completely agree that too many people are now obsessed with any sort of contact justifying a foul.

    I also feel harsher punishment should be dealt out ON the field too...