Thursday, October 11, 2007

On Dida

AC Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has been suspended by UEFA for two Champions League games following an incident at last week's game against Celtic.

After Celtic's game-winning second goal was scored in final minutes of the match, a fan rushed onto the pitch and lightly slapped Dida in the face. The Brazilian stopper chased his "attacker" for a couple of steps before dropping to the ground like he'd been punched by Gennaro Gattuso. He was then taken off the field in a stretcher, holding an ice pack against his cheek.

Dida is easily the worst starter in the Milan line-up and possibly the worst number one goalie in Serie A. Not only is he weak on crosses, he gives up too many rebounds (see the Celtic goal, for example) and lets in too many soft goals. Milan should consider themselves lucky that they don't have to bother him for their next two matches.

Instead, they're complaining loudly that the ruling was "disproportionate" (Celtic received a 25,000 Euro fine) and appealing. This is shameful. Milan should have suspended and fined Dida on their own. What he did wasn't just theatrics—it was a deliberate attempt to affect the outcome of the game. By falling to the ground and leaving on a stretcher, Dida was giving his club the opportunity to challenge the result of the match (Milan chose not to). This is cheating.

Non-soccer fans complain that there is too much diving in soccer. They're right. They also complain that players spend too much time on the ground after receiving minor injuries. Here, they're missing something important. When a soccer player receives a minor injury, staying on the ground gives his team an opportunity to rest. It also gives the player time to heal. If the injury is legitimate, then so is staying on the ground.

But what Dida did was not legitimate. My friend Paul suggested that what the goalie did will blight all Brazilian players, but I don't think that's true. Cafu, the legendary Brazilian defender and Dida's Milan teammate, has a reputation as one of the fairest players in the game. He has a tendency to shake the hands of referees after they hand him a yellow card. Kaka, another Brazilian Milan star, often gets bad calls from referees but never complains. He just sets up and scores goals for retribution.

Dida deserved what he got.


Blogger giancarlo_paul said...

I agree with your friend Paul. Brazilians have already been stigmatized for diving following Rivaldo's ridiculous antics at the 2002 World Cup in Korea.

Now, Rivaldo is a much better player then Dida, and he never recovered from that incident. He was not resigned with any of the big clubs and spends his days wandering like a nomad from smaller european teams that happen to have Brazilians employed as either coaches, players, or agents.

Granted,this will not take away from Brazilian soccer as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaka seem to be so ahead of every other player that they do not need to foul or employ cheap theatrics. But these players are unique. Dida is not unique. The term 'papera' works well to define Dida and his antics. He is a low quality goal keeper and this incident will be his last straw as Milan have already begun arranging for a new starting goalkeeper. Dida is 32 now and has won alot more then his abilities should have granted him. He was lucky to be born Brazilian and play for the national team that has 11 players in front of him that can dominant any game. He was also extremely lucky to be bought by A.C. Milan, an extremely strong side that does not neglect defending.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Marco Ursi said...

What do you think this will do to Italian soccer? Italians have an even worse rep than Brazilians when it comes to dramatics and Dida was playing for an Italian side.

3:20 PM  
Blogger M-C said...

I think we have to look at this issue outside of the realm of whether players from certain nationalities dive more than others. The problem with diving, theatrics and increasingly with players demanding that the referee give their opponent a yellow card, are standards that reward that behaviour.

Good on UEFA for doing the right thing and suspending Dida two matches. I hope this signals that UEFA won't tolerate the shenanigans anymore. I hope that other federations and league's will follow suit.

Still, suspensions after matches come too late for team's that lose, for example, on a penalty shot awarded a diver. Punishment for divers must be swift so that the risks equal the potential benefits of going down.

Referees on the pitch need to mete out more yellow cards to players who dive and (especially) to players who demand yellow cards be shown to their opponents. That, is terrible sportsmanship and a disgrace.

4:25 PM  
Blogger giancarlo_paul said...

It does look bad on the club for having someone like that on their team. And it will hurt Milan's image. Luckily for Milan though, they have won alot and have alot of noterity around the world.

It really comes down to how Milan handles it. With UEFA determining Dida is guilty, it is now up to Milan to follow up on UEFA's decision. If they let him go, then they can't be criticized too harshly. But Italian clubs have a nasty habit of keeping 'face' and never admiting to an error. Club President still says Dida has his full support, but those words mean nothing at this stage.

If Dida gets the axe, Milan are in ok shape. If they keep him, then there is nothing stopping the soccer world for ridiculing them based on Dida's actions.

But, even fellow teammates feel Dida's antics were harmful to the club image as well as the sport as a whole.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Carley Fortune said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Marco Ursi said...

Honestly, I mostly just can't stand how bad he is as a goalie.

7:34 PM  

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