The result of the opening match of the 2014 World Cup was not surprising, but the fact that it is shrouded in controversy is unfortunate. This is the one time every four years that many tune into soccer and they are faced with stereotypes of the game after just one match. People in the U.S. may keep watching as long as the USMNT is playing, but if diving continues those people will not stay tuned in for long.
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura called a penalty for Brazil after Brazilian striker Fred lost his balance and fell to the ground like he was on a sheet of ice. Dejan Lovren barely made contact with Fred and was playing his position well all match. It was as if Nishimura knew he had made a bad call by running to the end line to avoid backlash from the Croatia players. Neymar converted the penalty and Brazil were on the way to a 3-1 victory.
Diving and embellishment is a stereotype of soccer players. It is also a truth about soccer players. Unfortunately, when the opening match of the World Cup is marred by this action there are many questions. The word “cheated” was being thrown all over last night after the match and it was coming from the casual fan. For proof of how embellishment has become a fiber of the sport, look no further than a new set of stickers on Facebook messenger that features a soccer player writing in pain holding her ankle.
I really hope that penalty was just a bad decision rather than a bent decision. But I don’t really trust FIFA with anything.
— Andy West (@andywest01) June 12, 2014
For those more aware of the corruption, there is suspicion that the penalty call was a part of something bigger — a bigger scheme to make sure that the host nation won. Leading up to the match there were supposed images of the FIFA website and a European newspaper showing a 2-2 scoreline. After the match, Croatia coach Niko Kovac said the rules were not the same for both teams.
More and more people are learning about this corruption, and now they are witnessing one of the biggest soccer stereotypes come to life. This combination is enough to make the casual fan go away. The corruption throughout FIFA is a bigger issue. The play on the field cannot be marred by diving and bad officiating. This World Cup needs to show the game in a positive light.