No showboating for Boateng

March 21 2007

It would appear that Middlesbrough captain George Boateng agrees with his manager Gareth Southgate that a good kicking is fitting punishment for a spot of showboating.

Has he forgotten that football is entertainment? People pay money to see flair and flamboyance, not discipline and drudgery. Why shouldn’t Ronaldo indulge himself a bit? It’s surely more attractive – and more sporting – than just taking the ball into the corner.

Some of the game’s greatest players – men like Stanley Matthews, Garrincha and George Best – have been entertainers, and Ronaldo is simply following in their twinkle-toed footsteps. No-one likes to see their team’s defenders being given the run-around by a dextrous opposition forward, but it certainly gets the crowd on their feet, and that’s what football is all about.

Boateng talks about “respect”, but what he appears to mean is that, if you are better than your opponent, you shouldn’t seek to exploit that advantage too flagrantly. And yet the very nature of sport requires that one team or competitor is better than another.

If players like Boateng find outrageous skill unpalatable, maybe we should just do away with ‘unnecessary’ moves like the step-over, the dummy and the back-heel altogether?

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