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Mark

'And in the end, I can’t help but wonder if maybe some of FIFA’s new mandates have finally begun to sink in with the players as most of the quarterfinals and certainly the two semifinals were carried out in a manner befitting of the motto “My game is Fair Play”. Certainly, tonight exemplified that to the maximum extent possible for a match of such gravity.'

what on earth are you talking about? this game was divefest with the ref refusing to buy most of them (but also refusing to bring his card out to sanction any of the diving thus giving it carte blanche) settled by a penalty for something which was possibly a foul, but, since henry so clearly embellished with his dramatic split-second later than was natural plunge to the ground at an unnatural angle, one that i would have given the benefit of the doubt to the defender on (had i been able to judge with a bunch of replays before making my call). further since the ref was clearly under orders not to brandish numerous cards players learned that they could get away with the petty infractions which were not tolerated in earlier games. thus when players stood on the ball after the award of a free kick (as cannily demonstrated by figo kicking a ball against one of the french players who was standing deliberately right in front of it) they were allowed to get away with it (indeed it was figo who was lectured when the french player should have seen yellow). yes there were fewer cards, but only because the players had learned from recent games (particularly last night's game) and the early stages of this game that such infractions would be tolerated. far from seeing fair play being exemplified to the max we were seeing a return to unfair play. and it didn't make for a good game.

sure henry can comiserate with ronaldo because they have both behaved similarly lamentably in this world cup. i'm pinching myself as i type this, but i actually find myself wanting italy to win the final because they have cheated less than france thus far. similarly i wanted germany to beat france until podolski decided it was time to emulate his manager's ludicrous swan dives. diving has utterly ruined this world cup and you seem to be rather condoning it in this post (or perhaps you were hammered when you watched the game?).

that said ronaldo has always been known as a diver (although gaining the accolade as the most blatant practitioner in this world cup is some achievement), but henry has always been seen as a sportsman. that he has turned to the dark side is a sign that pretty drastic action needs to be taken.

i would like to add that i don't think ronaldo was responsible for england's demise because even with eleven men we didn't look likely to beat portugal, very likely as a result of our tactical ineptitude. against a team with as little upfront as portugal (one goal in three full games plus a period of extra time) we played 4-5-1 and ponderously hoofed the ball upfield (not a contradiction in terms if you pass along the back four for twenty seconds before the misdirected hoof occurs) to a short bloke who received little support from midfield. i wanted to add that before i say that i hope someone nails him (and henry and all the other divers) hard enough in the near future that they forget to roll over a few times because they are genuinely in pain. they deserv eno less because they are ruining the game. fifa needs to do something about it. i've already said what i would do in previous posts, although it did occur to me during this game that refs should be authorised not to give fouls even where they think there was one (as with the henry penalty apparently) if they feel the player fouled has embellished in order to sway their decision. what would you do?

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