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June 22, 2008 3:17 PM   Subscribe

FootballFilter: which national teams have reputations for good sportsmanship?

I know this is a loaded question, but as I've been watching euro 2008, I've noticed different teams have different propensities to fall after being, uh, lightly tapped at best. Do certain national sides have reputations for this? Are there any that have reputations for not doing this?
posted by devilsbrigade to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
i'm pretty sure that italy's national grass diving team is one of the worst.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:33 PM on June 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

Diving is really down to the individual, I doubt many teams are briefed to dive a lot as part of a gameplan. You have to remember that players playing for their national team all come from different club sides and are playing their domestic football at a variety of levels in different countries. Some will almost be expected to dive and react in a ridiculous manner, while others will play in leagues where it's frowned upon.

I don't think any one team could be pointed at as being particularly sporting. It's more like there are 3 or 4 teams well known for the ridiculous antics of certain players, and the rest don't really indulge to a noticeable degree. The worst for my money are the Portuguese, especially Deco. He is sublimely talented which makes it a hundred times worse.
posted by fire&wings at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2008

Seconding the sarge. Italy leaps to mind for many, many people as an example of a side considered a bunch of divers. A classic spoof: Italian soccer training camp. More (though club play, not international).
posted by donpedro at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I thought England were pretty good, but it seems like Brazil are the guys to beat:
posted by alby at 4:10 PM on June 22, 2008

I'm probably being a bit partisan here, but I think Australia's national team are pretty well regarded for fair play.

(There was a bit of a scandal back in the '06 World Cup - Italy were awarded a dubious-at-best penalty against Australia and knocked us out of the round of 16 - that led a lot of Aussies to ask "surely we don't do that, do we?".)
posted by The Shiny Thing at 4:12 PM on June 22, 2008

From growing up in England, I think ALL (good) European Latin countries get pilloried there as bad sports: Spain, Portugal, Italy.

In the world it'd be easy to include all the South American countries as bad guys with the exception of Brazil: but Argentina and Uruguay particularly.

As for the good guys.... I'd say a good bet would be the Dutch, Belgium, Sweden, Norway.

The English players are also often criticised in the press here for diving etc. in the domestic competitions at least.
posted by selton at 4:29 PM on June 22, 2008

Over the last 10 years or so, numerous pundits have noted that the US mens national team play at a competitive disadvantage because they don't dive.

I agree with Fire&Wings, that diving relates to specific players more than a national, um, ethos (for lack of a better word): on the USMNT, Brian McBride never took a dive in his whole storied career, for instance, but Clint Dempsey is a bit of a diver at times. OTOH, there are numerous matches in USMNT history where they've been victimized by vicious dives from the other side (e.g vs. Italy in the 2006 world cup)

National competitions aside, different leagues have varying tolerance for Diving. Serie A in Italy is certainly dive-tastical to the point that matches often feel like American Football, with all the free kicks and stoppages for 'injuries'. The few games I've seen in La Liga in Spain and the Eredivisie in Holland have had a fair bit of diving. The BPL in England, Bundesliga in Germany numerous others have less 'successful' diving (as in when a player takes a dive, they rarely get the foul called), which seems to reduce the total amount of diving.
posted by markovitch at 8:18 PM on June 22, 2008

Over the last 10 years or so, numerous pundits have noted that the US mens national team play at a competitive disadvantage because they don't dive.

Mostly, the Socceroos have the same problem, with the added issue that they can be a little rough on others (this may well improve now that Muscat is no longer on the team).

The Shiny Thing: I don't think it's about 'fair play'.. as much as just being out the other end of the spectrum when it comes to fouls and diving. It's fairly obvious that those players with more European experience are better at playing up an illegal touch (or maybe they're just more likely to be up front??)
posted by pompomtom at 9:26 PM on June 22, 2008

[A few things removed. More with the explanatory answers and less with the sports chatter and LOLery, please.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:56 AM on June 23, 2008

The problem with national team reputations is that the can get set in stone and be seemingly impervious to anything. For instance, anytime the Dutch beat two teams in a row in an international competition suddenly it's "the return of total football." The Dutch haven't used the total football style since Cruyff was around (the only recent example of total football in international competitions I can remember is the South Korean team of 2002, the Russians in Euro 2008 might also be trying that, I have to watch for it next game, I was too busy marveling at Arshavin, Zhirkov and Pavlyuchenko last time around).

So, teams might have a reputation for diving and not dive much at all. Sometimes Spain gets lumped with the diving teams but I can't remember seeing them flop around the pitch much. Similarly, the Danes and the Dutch don't have reputations for diving but I've seen some pretty egregious stuff from them. As a rule, in the English speaking world, if you are latin you have a reputation for diving, if you're non-latin you don't (the French are an exception to this, they're lumped with the northern part of Europe when it comes to diving).
posted by Kattullus at 6:10 AM on June 24, 2008

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