Italy's Hollywood stars and referee roasted in New Zealand
Jun 20, 2010, 22:51 GMT
Wellington - Italy's theatrical footballers, and Guatemala referee Carlos Batres, who fell for their acts, were roasted by New Zealand sports writers reporting their country's 1-1 draw in the World Cup.
'Make no bones about it - Italy, winners of four World Cup crowns - cheated to get back into the game' after New Zealand opened the scoring, wrote Tony Smith, on the Stuff news website.
He said the referee fell 'for the worst dive of the World Cup by the most theatrical Italian since (director) Federico Fellini,' when Daniele De Rossi flopped to the ground in the New Zealand penalty area alleging he had been pushed by defender Tommy Smith.
'Smith had had a little tug of De Rossi's blue shirt, but he'd let go long before the Italian floundered on the floor,' he wrote, dubbing it an act unworthy of a world champion.
New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen told New Zealand Herald writer Michael Brown: 'The penalty was ridiculous. Even De Rossi was laughing to me. He couldn't believe he (the referee) had given it.'
Nelsen said he thought the referee 'got stars in his eyes' because the Italians were the world champions. 'The referee just buckled. If he's the best that FIFA offer up, then, gee whizz, I would hate to see the worst. It was very sad to see. He ruined the game.
'For me, FIFA have to start looking after the game for guys who are diving and guys looking for fouls. They have to look at guys who are faking or conning the referee.'
Smith wrote that it added salt to a raw wound that De Rossi won the Man of the Match award.
'What a joke. If a team ranked fifth in the world has to resort to deception to subdue a side ranked 78th, then what hope is there for the World Cup?'
Brown wrote: 'Every team is culpable of 'simulation', as it's known in official circles, but some countries are better than others. The Italians are masters of the dark art and milked it as every opportunity this morning.'
Another report on the Herald's website said, 'If the World Cup is a stage, Italian footballers are clearly the best actors.
'Every time forwards Rory Fallon or Chris Killen came within three feet of the ball, the nearest Italian player clutched a part of their body, grimacing in pain.
'Azzuri players littered the field at Nelspruit in several histrionic retakes of the 'dying swan', as they traded knocks with All Whites players in the hustle and bustle of the group F match.'
Skipper Nelsen told Radio New Zealand it was the best he had seen his All Whites play.
'It was amazing effort from the lads ... wasn't pretty, but they just showed so much determination and guts.'
Even the normally taciturn and quietly spoken New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said the Italians were 'a little bit sort of theatrical with a few dives here and there and we were on the back end of refereeing decisions as well.'
Herbert dubbed it an incredible result for a team from a country that many critics had said was so poorly performed that it had no right to be in the World Cup finals.
Following on the draw with Slovakia in the All Whites' first group game, this New Zealand side has already eclipsed the side which made the country's only other appearance in the finals, 28 years ago and failed to score a goal.