Cheating in sport teaches kids a bad lesson

BAD SHOW: Ben Sigmund's (L) red card was upheld, meaning the FFA regulations prevented any review of possible simulation from Adelaide player Jeronimo Neumann (R).
BAD SHOW: Ben Sigmund's (L) red card was upheld, meaning the FFA regulations prevented any review of possible simulation from Adelaide player Jeronimo Neumann (R).

It may be easy to fool referees, but kids tend to be a more streetwise bunch.

They will already have absorbed the big lesson from last weekend's sporting encounters. The kids now know for sure that not only are cheats winners, they get away with it.

The weekend's big rugby match between Canterbury and Auckland was decided by a piece of cheating.

That's not my word, that's the word of ex-Canterbury halfback Justin Marshall during his commentary on the NPC final.

Late in the first half Auckland had a clear three-man overlap when Telusa Veainu reached out with his fingertips and deliberately knocked the ball on.

Referee Glen Jackson should have awarded a penalty try, as he later conceded. The incident prompted the following exchange between Marshall and Ian Smith.

Marshall: "He's done the right thing by his team and he deserves to be in the bin though, because Auckland should feel aggrieved they didn't get seven."

Smith: "What else do you do though if you're a defender. It's 3 on 1. What else can you do?"

Marshall: "Exactly, but you've been compromised defensively. You've been let down by the system and the attack's too good. You can't cheat."

But you can cheat and that is exactly what Veainu decided to do. Apparently, kids, what else can you do? The trouble is Veainu got away with it.

There was no reward in points for Auckland who were leading 13-10 at the time and the loss of a wing for 10 minutes was very well covered by Canterbury.

But this was not the only allegation made of cheating during the match. Auckland coach Wayne Pivac said afterwards: "The work they do at the breakdown is very questionable and we talked to the referee about it before the game.

"It's just sealing the ball off, but they do it very, very well and you have to commend them for the way they play. They put pressure on the referee and they got the rewards tonight."

This is the same point I have made previously about Canterbury's Super Rugby team, the Crusaders. They are serial cheats at the breakdown and they put pressure on referees.

Indeed the Chiefs devised an entire gameplan before this year's semifinal in order to highlight the Crusaders' cheating to the referee. Like Pivac, they also briefed the referee beforehand.

Yet cheating is a strangely emotive word.

It seems to be the equivalent of accusing someone of lying in Parliament, something that occurs on an almost daily basis, but is best not brought up in polite society.

If you mentioned the "c" word in the drawing room of Downton Abbey you would be liable to be challenged to a duel. Strangely this sort of antiquated code still seems to prevail, only making it easier for cheats to prosper.

In the football match between Adelaide and the Wellington Phoenix at the weekend, a player called Jeronimo Neumann took a dive in order to persuade the referee to send off an opposition player.

Everyone knew it was a dive.

The studio panel, including former Aussie international Mark Bosnich, all agreed it was a dive. Andrew Durante, the Phoenix captain, said: "He's dived, he's a cheat."

Oh dear, there's the "c" word again.

It certainly offended the sensibilities of Adelaide's coach John Kosmina who said the comment was unfortunate and "not a nice thing to say". Get over it. It's not a nice thing to be.

Fernando Torres was sent off at the weekend in the match between Chelsea and Manchester United for diving. It was a very similar incident to the one in Adelaide.

There was contact, but not enough to properly impede a player who was not going to reach the ball, and so he dived.

One referee sent the defender off, the other referee allegedly called the diver a Spanish tw.t and issued him with a red card.

The Phoenix rightly appealed against Ben Sigmund's sending off.

It was as ludicrous as the yellow card that Durante subsequently received for not hurling himself out of an attacker's way.

And the response of the A- League review committee was to do absolutely nothing.

It is hard to know which cliche to reach for at this point.

Are we looking at the Aussie arse of a huge ostrich burying its head in the sand or the dirty hands of a domestic sweeping all the filth under a big carpet.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said: "Unfortunately the referee in our game with Adelaide did not deal with the situation competently and we are paying the penalty rather than the player who was guilty of simulation.

The game is being ruined by players who dive and do not get penalised for it."

I would rather not blame the referees who have a hard enough time without everyone trying to con them.

Jackson got his call wrong, but not as wrong as his assistant referee who unbelievably thought it was just a knock-on.

Jarred Gillett, the referee of the Phoenix game, was hoodwinked by a player intent on deception.

Blame the players, who do this stuff, the coaches who condone it, and the review committees which apparently sanction it.

What a terrible example to teach our kids. It is about time that cheating was called by its proper name.

And it is about time to ban cheating players in the same way that we ban violent ones.