Harry Kane’s last minute spot-kick against West Ham on Sunday may have been the cause of great frustration for the many Hammers fans who made the trip across London, but it has seemingly gone down as just another penalty, in just another exciting Premier League match, for the majority of those within the footballing community.
Tottenham triumphantly fought back against Big Sam’s side after going down 2-0 to the visitors. Danny Rose initially struck home after a somewhat chaotic corner-kick for West Ham’s Spanish shot-stopper Adrian, but Harry Kane once again stole the headlines for firing home the equaliser in the dying embers of the match.
Seemingly ignoring the fact that extra-time had long been up after Kane’s penalty was initially saved, referee Jonathan Moss, allowed the 21-year-old rising English star to shoot home the rebound and record a dramatic draw for Mauricio Pochettino’s determined Spurs side.
While such drama seems to have caused great discussion and even further animosity between the two sets of opposing fans, the likes of Mark Lawrenson, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen (for the BBC and BT Sport respectively) responded to the incident on TV by claiming that the ref got it right, and ultimately made the correct call.
So then, was Harry Kane tumbled over in the box unfairly, or did the in-form man and current favourite among many Premier League pundits simply take a dive to win back some valuable points for his team?
Although it would be unfair to single out Harry Kane as a diver and a cheat for this one incident – as West Ham themselves have faced their own simulation accusations with James Tomkins’ theatrical face-holding against Everton earlier this season – the answer on this one is simple, he dived.
Kane is justly made out to be a strong centre-forward who is not easily knocked off the ball. He is meant to be a burley top-man and the proposed future England no. 9, but if he can’t keep on his feet after merely being touched in the box, he really is no different to the rest of them.
There was once a time when English players stood stall against the growing tide of diving and simulation growing in Europe, but with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and now even Harry Kane, giving in to the temptation of late, those days are now sadly long gone.
However, if you are of the opinion that Kane’s penalty claim was a just and deserved one, then it must be conceded that football is slowly turning into a non-contact sport. If it has in-fact been deemed a correct penalty call, fans of the Premier League may have to turn to the likes of basketball and netball for future indications of how the game will be played. Physicality will soon be ruled out football if such opinions have their way, and as Harry Kane’s weekend tumble clearly highlighted, more and more games will be senselessly decided by overly ambiguous referring decisions.
Pundits use the word ‘contact’ as if it is no longer allowed. Contact this and contact that – if contact happens in the penalty box as it did last weekend for Tottenham, then all a player has to do is go down and plead innocence. Nine times out of ten naive English officials fall for such behaviour, and as such trends continue to take place in the ‘Beautiful Game’, players who display a degree of honesty in the opposition’s penalty box are seemingly left ignored and unrewarded.
This is sadly the way the game is going today, and although many fans may turn their nose up at such theories with their sides seemingly profiting from the trend, the truth really is obvious in the cold light of day – no matter what certain pundits have to say about the topic.
Everyone is for player protection and the abolition of recklessly cynical challenges, but the state of the game today is just getting silly. If you are seemingly not bothered by the new direction that football has taken in the last decade or so however, then good luck to you, but for the apparent minority of us who are simply tired of this current lack of dignity and integrity in the game, it seems the unwanted theme of play-acting looks set to continue, at least for the foreseeable future.