Andy Dawson: Football is better at cheating than cricket

Cricket is currently in cheating-related turmoil but football has managed to incorporate cheating in so many different and more dramatic ways...


Cricket is currently in cheating-related turmoil, rocked by an Australian ball-tampering scandal or something. But let’s be honest, cricket is a stupid sport and if sneakily rubbing a ball is something worthy of a global furore, we need to stop and think for a second.

As usual, football is the superior sport and has managed to incorporate cheating in so many different and more dramatic ways in recent years… here’s some of the best…


Arguably the greatest player of all time and the man who single-handedly dragged an otherwise mundane Argentina side to glory in the 1986 World Cup finals. A hero to millions around the world, but to English men and women, he is nothing more than a stumpy cheat thanks to his horrific handball in the quarter-final of the aforementioned World Cup.

Had Maradona not leapt like a salmon and flipped the ball like a seal past Peter Shilton, England would surely have won the 1986 finals, led by the bastion of all that is good and pure and right, Gary Lineker.

Ah well, Maradona will have plenty of time to muse over his diabolical conduct WHEN HE IS LANGUISHING IN THE FIREY PIT OF HELL FOR ALL OF ETERNITY.


What? No! Surely not the nice guy of Sky Sports and Arsenal legend? Sorry, but yes. To the Irish, Henry is their Maradona – also a handball culprit and arguably an even more blatant one. The Frenchman took TWO touches before setting up William Gallas to score the extra time goal that took dumped the Irish out of the World Cup at the play-off stage.

Ireland’s post-match rage was long and fierce but unlike Henry, FIFA’s hands were tied. Thierry has subsequently apologised but sightings of him enjoying a Guinness in Dublin are few and far between.

ITALY 2006

The entire fabric of the Italian game was ripped apart just over a decade ago when police uncovered a vast network of match-fixing rife throughout Serie A and Serie B. Crooked referees were used to influence match results, with top clubs such as AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina involved. But it was Juventus that was hit hardest once the scandal emerged, with the Turin giants stripped of two previous league titles and relegated to Serie B.

By comparison, AC Milan got off lightly, with a 30-point deduction while being allowed to stay in the top flight.


The former president of Marseille wasn’t one for hiding his wealth and ambition, with his club winning five successive league titles under his stewardship. Sadly, it wasn’t without a crooked element, and one recipient of a £30,000 bung hid the cash in a relative’s garden.

The cash find led to the uncovering of mass corruption, and Tapie wound up in jail while Marseille were relegated to Ligue 2 and forbidden from defending the Champions League title that they’d won.

As a postscript, Monaco boss Arsene Wenger was so incensed that his team had been cheated that he quit French football and headed for Japan for a career reboot. Wonder whatever happened to him after that…


If we’re looking for an iconic-yet-ludicrous single incident of cheating, there has been nothing as high profile and as spectacular as Rivaldo’s theatrical tumble during Brazil v Turkey in 2002. A ball kicked by Hakan Unsal innocuously hit the Brazilian on the leg but he opted for a unique interpretation of the incident, clutching his face and writhing on the floor. A bit like that time PJ got blinded by the paintball in Byker Grove.

It meant a second yellow and an early bath for Unsal, while Rivaldo was later charged with simulation and fined – and the incident might well be the one thing that he is remembered for as the mists of time cloud his otherwise-glittering career. What a dickhead.

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