The Capital One Cup semi-final last week saw Diego Costa thrust himself into more confrontations than Joey Barton on a night out. Having been involved in two separate stamping incidents, the Spanish striker was defended by a number of leading pundits. John Murphy asks why intentional assaults are often underplayed in the media.
Last Friday the FA released an official statement confirming Diego Costa’s three match ban for violent conduct. For the neutral, (who isn’t a sadist) the Brazilian born striker is not an extremely likable individual with controversy seeming to follow him around like a bad smell. His latest display however has somehow been defended by leading Sky pundits Gary Neville and Thierry Henry.
Costa was he lucky to stay on the field? Yes. But also Lucas & Henderson. Does he deserve to get banned retrospectively? Not in my opinion.
— Thierry Henry (@ThierryHenry) January 29, 2015
My personal view is that Costa in a process should get off his charge. Impossible to prove he meant it and he doesn’t look at the player.
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) January 29, 2015
These opinions are almost farcically simplistic. Intention is fundamental in determining a violent conduct charge yes, but Neville’s assessment that ‘looking’ determines intention is borderline stupid.
What about Costa’s unflinching reaction to the feeling of bone against his studs? What about the context of the duel he was involved in? What about his reputation? If it smells like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
But this is now the norm. A player that theatrically dives in an effort to win a penalty is often publicly castigated whereas the ferocious leg breaking challenge or stamp is shrugged off as accidental. “He surely didn’t mean that. He’s not that type of lad.”
Well, I’m sorry Sally but sometimes there are “those types of lads”. Let’s take a look at one Charlie Adam. In the clip below, you can literally see a clear intentionally ferocious challenge with absolutely no intent to win the ball. The commentators reaction? “I don’t think there’s any malice in there.”… You take a look and decide.
Some might argue that taking a player’s reputation into consideration when determining his “intent” in a tackle isn’t fair. But in the case of Charlie Adam, how is this for precedent? Maybe he just doesn’t like Gareth Bale? Maybe he is simply a dirty player?
The fact is that despite the two absurd challenges above and the outrageous image below, not one single pundit would be willing to publicly declare that he is a “dirty player” because, well no one is that ferocious. No one is “that type of lad.”
Luis Suarez has been involved in more on field controversies than George Best has had one night stands, yet still many would hesitate to call him “dirty”. Instead, he is defended. “He needs help. He needs support.”
The clip below does not focus on his diving, biting or racial slurs, it simply provides irrefutable video evidence of a history of challenges laced with clear malicious intent.
Many will be surprised to see the challenges above. Why? Because the majority were mostly ignored. Because the media loves diving, because the media loves biting. But to assess or label someone a dirty player… Oh they couldn’t possibly. That might just be controversial.
John Murphy, Pundit Arena