Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

Brasilien, Geldfußball-WM 2014. „Where dishonesty is best policy“. New York Times. Das „playacting“-Problem.


Are the Americans bad at playacting? And if so, should they try to get better?

The first part seems easy enough. For better or worse, gamesmanship and embellishment — or, depending on your sensibilities, cheating — are part of high-level soccer. Players exaggerate contact. They amplify the mundane. They turn niggling knocks into something closer to grim death.

They do all this to force the referee to make decisions, with the hope that if he is confronted by imagined bloodshed often enough, he will ultimately determine he has seen some. Applying this sort of pressure on the official is a skill that, by their own admission, United States players generally perform poorly, if they perform it at all.

Graham Zusi, an American midfielder, said diving, also known as flopping, “is something I’ve never really incorporated into my game, and I don’t plan on it.” Tab Ramos, one of Klinsmann’s World Cup assistants and a player for the national team from 1988 to 2000, said he frequently saw Americans struggle to pull off the seemingly requisite soccer shenanigans. A Uruguayan-born American who played in Europe and the United States, Ramos is attuned to the art.

“Absolutely that’s something we don’t do the way other teams do,” Ramos said. “I don’t know if you call it a problem or a weakness, but it’s clear that the American nature is to try and make everything fair, to try and be fair to the game. That’s just how Americans are.”

It is undeniable that this tendency matters, particularly at the World Cup, where a single decision can be so meaningful. Little more than an hour into the opening game of this tournament, Frederico Chaves Guedes, a Brazilian forward known as Fred, went to control the ball near the top of the penalty area. He felt a Croatian defender’s hand on his shoulder. He then flung himself to the ground as if yanked back by a puppeteer’s string, throwing his arms into the air and screaming hysterically.

The Brazilians howled. The Croatians remonstrated. The referee, Yuichi Nishimura, pointed to the penalty spot. And when Neymar converted the ensuing penalty kick, the Brazilians had a lead they would not relinquish because of a play that was, in large part, manufactured.

“The reality of the game is that the box is refereed differently than everywhere else on the field,” said Kyle Martino, a former player in Major League Soccer who made eight appearances with the national team and was known for his calculated collapses.

Martino added: “It’s naïve to say otherwise. You can hate Fred, you can say it’s cheating, but Brazil maybe gets out of the group because of that decision. So if you’re the U.S., at what point do you say, If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?”

Brazil midfielder Rivaldo after a ball was kicked at his legs during a 2002 World Cup match against Turkey. He later admitted he had been playacting. Brazil went on to win the tournament.CreditDesmond Boylan/Reuters

It is a reasonable query. Klinsmann, who frequently did a superb Greg Louganis impression of his own when he was playing, has not hesitated to say he would like the United States to be, collectively, a bit more “nasty,” pointing to other teams’ success in confronting the referee and putting him on the spot.

Tim Howard, the veteran American goalkeeper, who has played the last 11 years in the Premier League, has made similar statements. A day after Fred’s flop, Howard said: “I’ve got no problem with the Brazilian player going down. I would encourage my own players, if they felt contact, to go down.”

That idea, though, runs contrary to the ethos of idealized American sports. As Ramos said, American athletes are typically honest on the field, no doubt influenced by years of being told to be strong, battle through contact and finish the play. The tendency of American soccer players to eschew diving, Martino said, is directly related to the fact that diving is one of the things that soccer critics in the United States rail against so passionately.

“That cultural perception already handicaps the American player,” Martino said. “It’s so frowned upon that subconsciously the American players don’t want to play into the stereotype. Particularly when they’re younger, they don’t want to hear it from other people around them. That doesn’t happen in other sports in America, like taking a charge in basketball. And it doesn’t happen in other countries.”

To most players, there is a fine line between exaggeration and flat-out fakery. In recent years, referees have been instructed to punish “simulation” more harshly, and there have been more yellow cards shown to attackers who try such con jobs as rubbing one foot against the other before tumbling in an attempt to make it appear that they have been tripped. Techniques like that one generally inspire scorn.

Exaggeration, on the other hand, does not seem to be going anywhere. The best attackers in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suárez, regularly fall to the ground, particularly if they feel that they are going to lose possession. And why not? If it works, they get a free kick. If it doesn’t, they were going to give up the ball anyway.

Call it cheating if you want, but having scruples can be costly. In England, for example, players have traditionally stayed upright, too, even though it has sometimes been to their detriment.

“The long refusal of English players to dive may have been an admirable cultural norm,” Simon Kuper wrote in his seminal book “Soccernomics,” but “they might have won more games if they had learned from Continental Europeans how to buy the odd penalty.”

Now the United States faces the same issue. Yes, some United States players are better at this playacting than others (Jozy Altidore has shown decent potential), but the debate over whether the team should embrace that skill, and try to expand it, is surely loaded.

Put simply, it comes down to this: Should the Americans dive with almost everyone else or stand on the moral high ground?

Brasilianische Zeitungskommentatoren konterten den NY-Text mit Hinweisen auf Doping-Star Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery.






Sao Paulo – Fotoserie:


Slums in Sao Paulo: http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2011/11/17/adveniat-in-brasilien-wie-lebt-es-sich-in-der-reichsten-stadt-lateinamerikas-der-siebtgrosten-wirtschaftsnation-nach-acht-jahren-lula-regierung-adveniat-gottesdienst-in-der-favela-cachoeirinha-von/

Angela Merkel, Joe Biden bei der WM: http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2014/06/17/brasilien-geldfusball-wm-2014-neben-bundeskanzlerin-angela-merkel-auch-us-vizeprasident-joe-biden-als-stadionbesuchernatal-usa-ghana-wir-wollen-vertrauen-zu-brasilien-wiederherstellen-biden/

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Mittwoch, 18. Juni 2014 um 17:52 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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