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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Reality stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of something as fake as a football match

Swansea's Gomis collapsed during last night's game at Tottenham. There was no contact. He just went down as if poleaxed. Gomis has a history of similar fainting episodes. Following treatment, he was fine. He even wanted to carry on.

However you can see from Bentaleb's reaction in the picture how shocked the players were when Gomis went down and was suddenly surrounded by medical teams from both benches.

It always impresses me how quickly footballers know when something serious has happened on a football pitch and how instantly they drop all the play-acting. A genuine, potentially life threatening injury in the middle of a match is immediately apparent to all of them, no matter how far away they are from the action. They react with such shock that you'd think they were 12 year-old-boys rather than hardened athletes.

That's as it should be, of course. What's not as it should be is the pantomime of agony that takes up most of the average game and increases the nearer the top of the table the teams involved are placed. The intensity of faking in football has parted company with reality and can now only be compared to the death scenes in particularly overwrought operas. 

As in the opera, nobody's convinced about the injury being feigned but it's just sort of expected. As one former-pro pointed out recently, nobody's who's hurt rolls over three times. If the players who went down were hurt as much as they claim to be their team mates would be rushing to get them help, rather than rushing to get somebody else booked.

The sudden arrival of actual jeopardy, as happened last night at White Hart Lane and at the same place in 2012 in the far more serious case of Fabrice Muamba, only makes the fake variety look more fake.