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Durante outburst exposes gaping flaws in FFA structure

Andrew Durante’s comments post-match against Adelaide United may land him in hot water, but he can take solace from the fact that he’s right.

Too often are players, coaches and the media cautious to attach the unmentionable label of ‘cheat’ to their analyses of players. The word is, apparently, that one step too far in the cut-throat, highly competitive environment of modern professional football in which incidents of cheating are rife.

And it seems this caution has flowed through to the A-League’s match review panel and their treatment of the incident to which Durante was referring – Jeronimo Neumann’s second half dive that earned Durante’s teammate Ben Sigmund a red card, and the Reds a huge advantage.

Durante’s words weren’t too far off the mark. Diving is cheating. Plain and simple. It’s not necessarily a condemnation of Jeronimo’s character; we’ve seen enough of the Argentine in the first month of the season to know that his contribution to the A-League can be great, but there is no point hiding the fact that in this instance, he cheated.

The match review panel yesterday opted to uphold Sigmund’s red card, and in doing so avoided even dealing with the incident of Jeronimo’s tumble to the ground.

And what an absolute disgrace that is.

Football, in this area of world especially, struggles with a growing reputation that its participants have a tendency to play-act, dive and fake injuries.

The world over, football’s governing bodies agree that it’s an aspect of the game that needs to be eradicated. Still, little is done to prevent it.

The incident on Saturday gave the FFA a wonderful opportunity to take a stand against diving – the likes of which football has seen very few. To reprimand Jeronimo for what was unmistakeably an instance of simulation would have been the very least they could do. To hand him a hefty fine and an even heftier suspension would have made the point that diving has never, and will never, be tolerated in the Australian game.

Instead, the example made of the Argentine is not even “if you’re going to cheat, don’t get caught”. It’s worse: “if you’re going to cheat, we won’t catch you”.

To make a point clear, I do not think Sigmund’s red card should have been reversed. The All White’s contact with Neumann (albeit minor) warrants a foul, and given the absence of multiple camera angles available to referee Jared Gillett at the time, I can understand his interpretation of Sigmund as denying Neumann a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Given that the MRP collaborated 48 hours later and with a wealth of camera footage at their disposal, the FFA cannot be afforded the same excuse.

I’ve read many pieces stating that the FFA were hamstrung by their own rules. Sadly, this is no justification. No matter how severe the foul from Sigmund, the fact that Neumann takes two paces before deciding he is going to fall to the ground is disgusting and reprehensible behaviour.

Sigmund saw it, Durante saw it, I and everybody watching on television saw it and the FFA saw it too. Their failure to issue any punishment, regardless of their internal procedures, is as horrendous as the dive itself.

I have two wishes. Firstly, that the FFA alters their decision review procedure to avoid similar instances in future. My second hope is that Adelaide United will recognise the dive, and issue punishment to Jeronimo internally. I have to say, though, that for the latter I’m not overly optimistic.

It appears as though Jeronimo Neumann will escape punishment on three counts: from the referee, the FFA, and from his club. That would mean a cheater has been allowed to walk away completely scot-free. That’s a fact of which the A-League ought to be ashamed.

For all the hard work put in this season to market the league and to bring the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey down under, the FFA has let slip a glorious opportunity to put itself on the world football map, and has instead highlighted its organisation as a farce.

It seems completely and utterly ludicrous that it will likely be Durante’s words, rather than Neumann’s actions, which are reprimanded for bringing the Australian game into disrepute.

About the author

avatarJoe is a sports journalist for Goal Weekly, and a writer for Ultimate A-League.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1248804769 Cliff Boyle

    couldn’t agree more

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Neill/1359347611 Danny Neill

    Brilliant. Fantastic webpage. Telling it how it is.

  • http://twitter.com/bigswedenz AlexanderUbels

    Well DONE

  • http://twitter.com/bigswedenz AlexanderUbels

    Great article Joe. Can’t wait till Adelaide come to Wellington