You dive me crazy
- 6 Jul 06, 09:00 PM
We’ve had complaints from one or two quarters claiming that our coverage of Wednesday’s semi was influenced by sour grapes towards Portugal for having beaten England.
If that was the case, we’d be permanently sour during the latter stages of every tournament. There was no antipathy from us towards Brazil in 2002, nor Portugal in 2000 or 2004 for that matter.
Our pundits and production team first took issue with Portugal in this tournament following that horrible game with Holland, several days prior to the Rooney/Ronaldo shenanigans...
Admittedly, the Dutch were also to blame, but that game was disgraceful by any standards, and Portugal have not exactly brightened up the knockout stages of this tournament.
As I’ve said before, our team in Gelsenkirchen accepted that Rooney deserved his red card, but didn’t like Ronaldo’s overtures to the referee, nor the wink that followed.
Last night, our co-commentator was an ex-Republic of Ireland player, and two of the panel are from Scotland and Northern Ireland. They all disliked Portugal’s gamesmanship.
Quite why any of them would be harbouring grudges on behalf of England is anyone’s guess.
I think they were absolutely entitled to be unhappy with what they saw. We were all surprised and disappointed to see a coach like Scolari, for whom all of our team has the greatest respect, appealing in desperation for a succession of non-existent free-kicks and penalties.
As I’ve said before, English football is not spotlessly clean, but we are not used to a concerted campaign of attempted deception of the kind we saw in this match.
Had we not picked out the succession of increasingly ridiculous dives from Portugal which littered the match, we would have been accused of pulling our punches, allowing a bad example to be set to youngsters, and so on.
It was entirely immaterial that the team concerned were Portugal, and that they’d previously beaten England.
Anyone who saw Match of the Day’s coverage of the diving debate which surrounded Didier Drogba following Chelsea v Manchester City last season will know that he was challenged in our post-match interview, and that his actions were rigorously analysed by our team.
Similarly, when Shaun Wright-Phillips went down too easily in an FA Cup-tie against Newcastle, we gave up much of the following night’s live half-time at Charlton to analysis and reaction on the subject.
The fact that he was English, and the son of one of our pundits, was not a consideration.
Anyway, we’re now planning this weekend’s Football Focus, 3rd place game and Final.
It’s an incredible privilege to be working out here: I'm writing this on Thursday, my 33rd day away - and some have been here longer. But we’re aware of the need for one final push, particularly since Sunday is the only time we’ll go head-to-head with ITV.
We’ll both be doing the best we can in the spirit of healthy competition, but as ever we’ll be in the hands of the host director when it comes to match coverage.
For all of our sakes, we hope it’s not the guy who covered France v Portugal! There were close-ups while the ball was still in play, and absurdly long and irrelevant slow-motion replays at inappropriate moments.
It is all subjective, but we tend to worry when play is clearly in progress but we’re stlll looking at a replay of an earlier incident.
Fresh in our memories is the Euro 2004 semi-final where Maniche’s stunning goal for Portugal following a quickly-taken corner was entirely missed in live coverage. The director was still running in a replay of how the corner was won when the goal was scored.
I’m reluctant to fuel any further accusations of sour grapes by pointing out that the director concerned was Portuguese…