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12 August 2010

The soccer circus

Never mind the World Cup, give that player an Oscar.

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Even though not generally a soccer fan, I've enjoyed watching all of the SWC matches. To the uninitiated, soccer can seem like a lot of going nowhere with the occasional split-second of action, but just watch long enough and the desperate attacks, dogged defense and strategy become obvious.

At this level of competition, where it all comes down to a handful of games, the politics and theatrics of football come clearly into play.  And I've seen such hamming-it-up, better than the corniest soap-opera, being played out on the soccer pitch.

Watch the Fake injuries and other theatrics video.

Blow that whistle, ref! 

Referees have only moments to judge what is happening on a constantly-moving canvas – to this end, as the game wears on and scoring possibilities shrink, players resort to the kind of antics one usually only sees in B-grade professional wrestling. 

I'm talking about stunts such as leaping straight up into the air as if being shot by a high-powered rifle, and landing on your head (drilling about a foot into the pitch), and this after being only brushed by an opponent's shirt-sleeve in passing!  Or this ever-popular move:  wait until the opponent is within 10cm of you, then tangle up your legs and throw yourself onto the ground face-first.

Once a player has assumed this position, it is vital that he remain prone clutching a limb (or even better, his head), and twisting his face to indicate acute and exquisite agony. The player must writhe on the ground until the referee is forced to make some sort of ruling – he may only stand up once he sees that the referee is weighing up a decision. 

But the player shouldn't lose track of the script yet – he's to limp off nursing the injured limb/cranium until the referee has decided in his favour.  Then, and only then, may the player undergo a miraculous healing and play on with all the vigour of a cheeky spring lamb.

If the referee turns out to be too experienced (or simply too unkind) to appreciate the depth and scope of the player's performance, the player may stand up and continue play – but it is vital that he drop his jaw in total disbelief, throw up his hands, and appeal to the heavens that they might bring some justice in a hard and cruel world.

The risk of 'crying wolf'

A word of warning, though:  I heard that a player renowned for his gymnastic and dramatic abilities went one jump too high a few years ago and managed to injure himself.  His ruptured tendons not only took him out of the game for a season, but the unimpressed critic/referee carded him for being cute.

So, the soccer-fest has not been wasted on me.  Besides enjoying some very fine football, I've learnt a new form of self-defence – all I have to figure out is where I can test this without hurting myself.

(Joanne Hart, Health24, June 2010)

Read more:

Weirdest soccer injuries

Watch the Fake injuries and other theatrics video

(Image: iStock)

 
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