In my younger years there were many football players that pitied themselves because how their sport was seen outside the pitch. Some people considered football players not made of the right stuff and that the tough guys were playing hockey. Football players were seen as week, whining and spoiled in general. Is this a fact? If so, how did this culture strike root in the world’s biggest ball sport?
The game between Greece and Nigeria contained a situation that came to be discussed. After a touch that has to be seen as gently, the Nigerian Sani Kaita lost his head for a moment and stamped the Greek Torisidis right thigh. The consequence of the touch was seen by many as exaggerated by the Greek player, as his behavior did not qualify in the higher class of acting. The Greek theater, seen as the cornerstone in the cradle of culture, surely would have cried blood if they had seen the actors effort. Torisidis threw himself to the grass, writhing himself in pain. Kaita of course got a red card, which he would have gotten even without the Greek effort.
Behaviors like this have been seen before. In the game between Uruguay and South Africa the South African goalie touched the Uruguayan player, who took advantage of the situation and twisted himself a couple of extra turns on his way to the grass. During World Championship in South Korea/Japan the Brazilian player Rivaldo called for the referee’s attention when demonstrating terrible pains in his face, even though the ball hit him in the lower part of the leg.
I couldn’t help myself smiling at the comment from the Swedish football player Lotta Shelin, who was in the TV-studio after the game between Greece-Nigeria, when she was reflecting upon how gown up men could behave like this? Shelin also wondered how her teammates would react if she would try something similar in the context of female football? As we could understand from her, behaviors like this would be totally unacceptable in the sport that is rejected by so many men.
Within junior football and all the way up to senior football, the players are bred to separate themselves from the other gender. The culture is aiming to keep the masculine gender and to differentiate it from the female gender. It is said that in male football nobody wants to “play and act like a women”, on or outside the pitch. But this is a norm that we actually can dispute, thinking of certain elite players behaviors. It seems like when the importance of games and tournaments are increasing, the so called masculine football culture can be deserted. If you can cheat yourself into getting advantages on the pitch you are expected to do so. I figure that nobody in the Greece dressing room after the game was questioning if Torisidis behavior was unethical. Greece turned the game around and won and the question is if Torisidis did get an extra tap on his shoulder because of the fact that he actually did what many men would call “play like a woman”. So the question we have to ask ourselves is if male football culture has gotten weaker than female football culture?