Hand of fraud and other cheating types
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
There is one act of cheating to which all others have been measured since it happened in the 1986 World Cup.
When tiny Diego Maradona of Argentina extended his fist to reach a ball floating above the hands of English goalkeeper Peter Shilton in Azteca Stadium in Mexico, the gold standard for cheating was set.
Maradona had scored the first goal in the 1986 semifinal against England.
It will take an act of phenomenal nefariousness to surpass that feat. Like everything else in sport, nothing is forever. Will 2010 in South Africa provide us with a more embarrassing moment in the history of the Beautiful Game?
Given the resourcefulness of today's football player, take nothing for granted. Any act of dishonesty in today's game is rewarded with a visit to Maradona’s punch.
The act led to one of the greatest quotes in sports history.
“It was scored a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” Maradona said after the game.
It seemed that every one of the 108,000 in attendance (except the referee) saw what happened, including his teammates.
“I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came,” Maradona said. “I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn't going to allow it.’”
The goal also spawned one of the greatest excuses in refereeing history.
Tunisian Ali Bin Nasser said hemorrhoid cream he was taking affected his eyesight.
Maradona's sleight of hand was the most famous but it is by no means the only overt act of cheating.
France needed a two-game playoff against Ireland to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. They won the first game 1-0 but trailed 1-0 in the second. Extra time looked certain until France's Thierry Henry controlled a ball near the goal line – not once but twice – with his hand. He pushed the ball across to William Gallas, who scored the goal that eventually eliminated Ireland.
The uproar and demand for some sort of game or video replay and punishment was unprecedented.
No replay, video or otherwise followed — and no punishment.
The most-often forgotten handball prevented the United States from a semifinal berth and maybe a spot in the 2002 World Cup final in Korea.
The Americans and Germans were going at it in a quarterfinal game. The Americans were giving the Germans all they could handle and more. But as the game progressed, Germany led 1-0.
From a corner, American midfielder Gregg Berthalter knocked the ball toward the net. It appeared to enter the net but there was no question German Torsten Frings handled the ball to keep it out of the net. Neither goal nor handball was given and the Germans won.
In the late 1990s, Rivaldo was considered one of the best players in the world He went to the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and had a good showing.
But his play was overshadowed by his play-acting.
Brazil met Turkey and, during a stoppage in play, Turkey’s Hakan Unsal kicked a ball back at Rivaldo. The ball accidentally hit Rivaldo's thigh. Rivaldo fell to the ground holding his face. Unsal received a second yellow card from the referee, earning an ejection.
He fell “like someone having a brain hemorrhage,” Unsal said.
Rivaldo was branded a fraud and fined.
There are more than a few incidents involving the Japan/South Korea 2002 World Cup, which was a smorgasbord of cheating and controversy.
There was a theory that the ultimate goal was to ensure South Korea advanced as far as possible.
The Koreans had virtually every decision go their way.
There is one word to describe the work of referee Byron Moreno from Ecuador in the second-round match with Italy and the work of Gamal Al-Ghandour of Egypt in the quarterfinal against Spain . . . shameful.
While the Italy game got more notice (disallowed golden goal, questionable ejection), it was the Spain-South Korea game that was a true embarrassment. Spain had two perfectly good goals disallowed and numerous fictional offside decisions. The most blatant involved a disallowed golden goal because the linesman ruled the ball had gone over the end line even though it was fully in play.
South Korea won the game on penalty kicks.
Algeria is a participant in the 2010 World Cup but they hope their experience is better than how their 1982 trip ended.
Algeria shocked West Germany 2-1 on the opening day of that tournament and then beat Chile in their final match.
West Germany played Austria the following day in Gijon and knew that a 1-0 win for West Germany was enough to qualify both teams.
It's not surprising that was the final score.
There was nothing subtle about what the two teams cooked up.
“We wanted to progress, not play football,” said West German coach Jupp Derwall.
The match became known as The Non-Aggression Pact of Gijon or The Shame of Gijon.
How did the cheats make out?
Maradona's team went on to win the World Cup; Henry's team qualified and got a good draw in the tournament; West Germany went to the final; Rivaldo's Brazil won the World Cup; South Korea went to the semifinal and West Germany went to the final.
Tell that to your mother when she says cheaters never prosper.