Has James Tomkins shown his face yet? If the West Ham star had played with some of the tough guys I once shared a dressing room with, I don’t think he’d have dared leave his house for at least a week.
In times gone by, the training ground reaction to his toddler-like tumble to the floor - clutching his face wimpishly following a gentle chest shove from Kevin Mirallas - wouldn’t have been pretty.
Laughs would be had at his expense eventually (they always are) but at first he’d be greeted by funny looks and uncomfortable embarrassment.
I’d like to think he might even have been given a ‘proper slap’ from his colleagues to keep him in line. You don’t bring shame on the shirt, the team or the club with gamesmanship like that. It’s not on.
Given the TV pictures, no manager could make a case for Tomkins’ defence but kudos should still go to Sam Allardyce for publically slamming his players’ antics in today’s press.
Too many times the first reaction is to defend your man, but the West Ham boss has too much self-pride to stoop that low, and I’m pleased he fronted it out.
Teams and players are in many ways a reflection of their manager, and somehow I don’t envisage the former centre-half hard man being too fond at being associated with a crybaby act like that.
Here in Britain we used to sit in our high tower and ridicule this kind of thing.
We saw Rivaldo feigning a head blow at the 2002 World Cup and mocked him mercilessly. It was so risible, so ridiculous, that we wet our pants laughing.
This type of nonsense only happens on the continent, we chuckled. Blimey, those foreigners are pansies; they act like girls don’t they, we thought. You’d never catch one of us doing something so pathetic was a boast that could be heard on these shores.
Not so. Tomkins is just the latest in a long line of footballers (from Britain and overseas) to have tried to con a referee into dismissing an opponent who hasn’t acted anywhere near as badly as they’ve tried to make it appear. Cheating of this kind is now practically commonplace.
What baffles me most is a) how players think they could possibly get away with it given that a thousand and one cameras are trained on their every move, and b) why footballers are willing to behave in a manner they’d never consider acceptable in real life.
I mean, is winning so important that you’re prepared to subject yourself to public humiliation afterwards?
It makes little sense to me, especially from a guy like Tomkins, who was only recently found guilty of assaulting a police officer in a drunk and disorderly state outside the Sugar Hut nightclub in Brentwood.
Brought up in the Essex town of Basildon, this isn’t a shrinking violet we’re talking about. The big strong centre-back clearly thinks he’s a tough guy.
Deliberately showing weakness and trying your utmost to show you’re hurt weirds me out. It’s an alien sporting concept. And remember, this comes from somebody who’s pretty much the opposite of a tough guy.
I do like West Ham United’s stance on this. Although I’d suggest in future they, and other clubs take things a little further when a player sullies their reputation in this manner.
Rather than letting the culprit hide away and wait for the fuss to die down, I say MAKE HIM face the media to say sorry.
By bringing the player into a post-match press conference, or forcing them to make a statement at a specially arranged press gathering on the Monday, the shame would be unbearable.
I can’t imagine anything a professional footballer would want to do less. And isn’t that the right way to go?
Fining multi-millionaire footballers achieves little. Suspending them from matches is a better solution, but until ‘play-acting’ becomes a chargeable offence that’s impossible.
So let’s make the cheats apologise in full view of the cameras. Let’s make them cringe, and promise never to do it again.
I guarantee that’s a deterrent every player would take heed of.
Make the conniving con men show their face. We can’t let them get off lightly anymore. Conduct like this isn’t just shaming them and their clubs. It’s shaming the sport.
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