Diving straight into the World Cup

All roads led to Brazil last night and São Paulo’s Itaquerão Stadium, in particular, for the opening of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

As an avid football fan the opening day of the sport’s showpiece event feels like Christmas morning for a six-year-old.

I could care less about Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull’s performance during the opening ceremony.

Michael Jackson could have made a magical resurrection and I would not have cared.

It was the action on the football field that floats my boat and the Brazil versus Croatia game was where my attention was firmly fixated.

The pre-tournament discussions were all focused on Brazil’s main man and spearhead Neymar Junior (22) who carries the weight of an expectant Brazilian public to score the goals that will see his homeland lift the famous golden trophy.

The young striker did not disappoint and after the Croatians opened the scoring courtesy of a Marcelo own goal in the 11th minute (the first in his country’s history at the World Cup), Neymar and another young player, Oscar, swung the game back in Brazil’s favour.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Neymar’s left footed strike in the 29th minute (which needed some help from the woodwork to cross the line) but it was the lead up to his second goal from the penalty spot in the 71st minute that caused some furor from the Croatians.

It was football’s own worst enemy player simulation aka diving that again occupied the spotlight.

Striker Fred, who barely touched the ball in the game, went down like the proverbial sack of potatoes without a touch from Croatian defender Dejan Lovren (who subsequently saw a yellow card from the Japanese official).

This decision meant that Brazil would take the lead and not look back as they marched to their first three points in Group A with a 3-1 win.

Diving is to football what fleas are to dogs – a curse.

As FIFA tries to make things easier with goal line technology and other new advancements in the game there is still a major problem with players controversially flopping to the ground in the penalty box without any solid contact.

Newcomers to the sport may be forgiven for being a little bit put off by what transpired in São Paulo.

Will FIFA finally take more stringent measures if this happened in the World Cup final?

I doubt it.

Examples need to be made and bans dished out to players who continually spoil the beautiful game by cheating.



Logan Green

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