Soccer players must cut out the cheating

Olympiakos striker Stelios Yiannakopoulos yesterday admitted that a fall during Sunday’s national soccer league game against Aegaleo, which rewarded his side with a dubious penalty kick and the match’s winning goal 10 minutes before time, was a sham. Yiannakopoulos decided to make a public apology but also stressed that his attempt to fool the game’s referee was neither the first nor last incident of this sort. Considering the overall lack of honesty that burdens domestic competition, the gesture, which, admittedly, was belated and did absolutely nothing to change the game’s result, does nevertheless carry some weight. Yiannakopoulos’s on-field antics deprived Athens-based Aegaleo of at least a draw. That cannot be excused. Yiannakopoulos’s decision to speak out, however, will prompt the sport’s federation to penalize the game’s referee. Fair play is heartening and worthy of applause when witnessed while a game’s outcome is still being contested. Olympiakos might have called for a rematch because of Aegaleo’s unfair treatment by the game’s referee, but, in essence, nothing has changed. At this point, it is worth recalling the courageous stance adopted by Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger who demanded a rematch of an encounter which his side had won after benefiting from unfair play. Disregarding the victory, Wenger got his way. However, miracles of this sort seem to only occur in countries like Great Britain where values such as honesty and equality are respected, and, in the long run, have contributed significantly to higher standards. Here in Greece, words alone suffice to make us feel content. In a rare case several seasons ago, the now retired AEK player Stelios Manolas admitted to being the culprit of dishonest play during a game his team won. But it was not replayed. The character transformation of AEK’s Theodoris Zagorakis, who picked up good habits while playing for an English club several seasons ago, serves to highlight the contrast. His club’s fans ridiculed the player after he admitted attempting to fool a referee. Not surprisingly, the player quickly shunned the bad habits he brought with him to adopt to local standards of behavior. At some point, Greek players will have to stop thinking about ways of implementing theatrical antics to soccer, which, ultimately, are detrimental to the sport. Instead, they should focus on reality, or genuine attempts at scoring, rather than fooling referees. This play on the real and its image as well as the emphasis on objecthood had already begun by the mid-1960s. Both show the influence of New Realism – of which Tsoclis must have felt the impact as an artist who was living in Paris at the time, having first spent some years in Rome – and of the American version of Neo-Dada, whose use of the erratic can in certain ways also be found in the works of Tsoclis.

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