And by ‘viciously bitchslapped’ I mean ‘gently tapped.’ And by ‘sidelined’ I mean ‘suspended for the next two Champions League matches for being a big, dumb faker.’
Footage of the incident, which was witnessed broadcast live and is now on Youtube, clearly shows the incident. Celtic forward Scott McDonald scores a tie-breaking goal in the 90th minute of Champions League Matchday 2, thus securing a big victory for the Scottish underdogs against last seasons Champions League Winners. As the Scottish players ran to the touchline to celebrate, an over exuberant fan runs onto the field and, to add insult to defeat, gives Dida a tap on the neck or shoulder as he runs by. Dida turns to chase the fan, but after just a few steps he collapses to the ground and needs to be taken off on a stretcher. He is holding an ice-pack to his cheek as he leaves the field.
In that he joins an extensive list of football players who consider ‘diving’ a legitimate on-field tactic. However, the legitimacy of ‘diving’ is disputed: it is dishonourable. It is cheating, plain and simple.
But the big problem is that Dida’s foul was so blatant, so egregious, and so widely viewed that more than tarnishing the reputation of ‘soccer’ his own reputation has been badly damaged. The most pointed example: as a result of this incident Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly looking for a goaltender to replace him. And if a slimy cheater like ‘Il Cavaliere’ can’t support your underhanded tactics, you’ve definitely gone too far.
But what will come of this incident? Unfortunately not too much. Despite Berlusconi’s bluster Dida will likely stay with Milan. And if he doesn’t, the world-class keeper won’t have much trouble finding a home with another club. There is hope, however, that the uncomfrtable spotlight of this incident will continue to be focused on that jackass Dida. If his suspension is upheld, and Milan suffers in the Champions League as a result, then we can say that justice has been served. And perhaps the embarrassing nature of this incident, and the ensuing suspension, will serve as a deterrent to potential fakers in the future. If the rewards are replaced by shame and suspension there is no longer any incentive to take a dive.