Hence the booing. You can hear it every time a player tries to help his team get a free kick or, if the player is really good at it, not like Tottenham’s Bale, get a penalty. There’s an entire debate about diving in the Premier League and below, with some fine players getting the stick for trying to get their clubs closer to victories. That would never happen here, in Romania, where diving will only be sanctioned with laughs and an extra replay on TV, if they’re indeed performed without talent. Yes, talent matters, but you also need other stuff too, like practice and ability to make good judgement, as a referee would definitely take into consideration the fact that, if you’d have resisted that challenge, it was only the goalie left to beat. Either you’re absolutely mad to go down or that was an obvious foul which he didn’t see. Obviously, both answers are wrong – you were simply clever to make him think like that. If you’re playing for the home team, even better. If you’re wearing Steaua’s, Dinamo’s, CFR’s or Vaslui’s shirt, you might have just helped the guy with the whistle buy a nice present for the wife!
Dear English fans, in Romania, all the players are diving and everyone understands it. The fans would boo a terrible diver and will appreciate a talented one. Take Marius Lacatus, the master. Became a legend with Steaua and his number 7 shirt should not be offered to anyone. Lay it nicely inside the box, put two defenders to guard it, add a friendly referee and only then let the new signings fight for it. Or, better said, throw themselves at it. Everybody knew Lacatus was faking it, throwing his head back (big hair helped), even screaming when going down and staying there for minutes, curing quickly with his magic hand all sorts of terrible injuries. Unfortunately for him, instead of becoming a doctor after he hung up his boots, he decided to fake a successful coaching career. Everybody knew that the Lacatus in agony is just fine, fans, team-mates, opponents, referees, yet they could do nothing about it.
And what was there to be done? In the end, Lacatus was fooling the authorities, he was taking that extra step to help himself and his people, bending the law that little bit, a sport everybody was practicing in real life. Putting something in the doctor’s pocket for extra care, going with flowers, coffee or chocolate to any other public authority that needed to realize that you’d really want them to do their job. Steaua’s number 7 was the girlfriend “about to give birth” sitting in the right seat in your speeding car, good enough to convince a policeman to keep your money and return the driving license.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if Lacatus – who did play for Fiorentina and Oviedo – would have joined a Premier League club in the 90’s… Most likely, he would have been booed off from every pitch in the UK, even from people’s lawns and public parks, every week, but what if the English fans would have seen then – and acknowledged – one of the greatest divers of all at that time? I’d say they would’ve taunted now Bale only for being terrible at it…