Belfast Telegraph

John Laverty: Forget the fan and ban that diddy Dida instead

I hate the X Factor. no, actually I love it. Well, that's not strictly true either. I do enjoy watching it, but in a masochistic sort of way. And I'm become obsessed with spotting the fake, sorry, staged scenes.

There are, of course, many of these.

I mean, do you really believe that every contestant who got through to the live finals went home to their families, successfully pulled off a glum face to convince the loved ones that they'd actually failed - and then lit up like a Christmas tree?

If they'd pulled that off successfully - and unrehearsed - they wouldn't need to worry about X Factor changing their lives forever; they'd already be making a fortune in the acting profession.

Faking it is of course big news in telly land these days, and there have been some pretty high profile examples of the 'art.'

Some of the ones involving the BBC seemed both pointless and pathetic - even downright dishonest, and deliberately and unforgivably misleading.

To be fair, though, many others came about merely in the interests of slick, entertaining television, and The X Factor would come into that category.

So I'll forgive them for Louis Walsh's clearly contrived 'prodigal son' routine - and the shock of the competition's best looking contestant being dumped by the judges, then amazingly re-appearing as part of a all-girl group of rejects.

This was Walsh's spur of the moment idea (aye, right) and initially Simon hated it (of course he did) yet somehow the rejects are now favourites to win (now THAT bit I fully believe).

All harmless fun, and at least the fakery isn't all that obvious to the naked eye - unlike the antics of a man called Dida at Celtic Park, Glasgow, the other night.

Dida, as you probably know, is AC Milan's first choice goalkeeper.

He's Brazilian, six feet five and built like a brick, erm, shed.

He trains virtually every day of the week and has the sculpted body of a middleweight boxer.

Even his team-mates at the San Siro admit that this is one bloke you definitely would not want to mess with.

So how come then that he fell, poleaxed, and had to be stretchered off the pitch - after being TOUCHED by a Celtic fan who had made it onto the pitch after the Bhoys' winning goal?

The supporter in question was a slightly built, average height typical Glaswegian football idiot - and clearly not Lennox Lewis.

But after initially chasing after said fan, Dida then collapsed in apparent agony.

The incident could be severely damaging to Celtic who should have been celebrating possibly their best-ever result in the Champions League.

After all, it doesn't come much better than seeing off the reigning European champions.

But they could now end up having to play behind closed doors, they could lose points; theoretically could could even be expelled.

And the gravity of the dopey fan's pitch excursion was punished, quite rightly, with a life-time ban.

But UEFA should do the same with Dida.

This contemptuous character is the last thing modern professional football needs.

The guy was clearly and blatantly play-acting in an attempt to get the result of the match declared null and void.

His participation in the stretcher charade was utterly nauseating, and palpably deceitful.

Personally, if I was Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti I would never play Dida again.

To be fair to Ancelotti, both he and the club made no issue of the Celtic's supporter's incursion.

Rightly so; there was little point in adding to the embarrassment already caused by their goalkeeper, who was last seen holding an ice pack to his face after the "assault."

And, yes, I'm well aware of the horrific incident two years ago when Dida was hit by a flare during the Milan derby - but a firework and an idiot's barely perceptible touch are not exactly the same thing.

This is not, sadly, the first case of blatant playacting in the game; it wasn't all that long ago Dida's fellow Brazilian Rivaldo - a former World Player of the Year no less - fell to the ground clutching his FACE in a World Cup game after being hit on the KNEE by a ball.

Some inspiration for the kids in the Rio slums, those two.

UEFA simply must punish Dida - an experienced, 34-year-old international and a so-called role model - for bringing the game into disrepute.

If they turn a blind eye, they will be seen to condone an utterly appalling act by a so-called professional working under their jurisdiction.

But they won't do anything. Instead, they'll hide behind the fact that the Celtic fan should not have been on the field of play in the first place - and come down heavily on the Scottish club.

The bitter irony for the Bhoys is that, although what the fan (one Robert McHendry, 27) did was idiotic and irresponsible, it was borne out of genuine emotion and honesty.

Unlike Senõr Nélson de Jesus Silva, aka Dida, two-times Champions League winner, 91-times capped international, occasional Brazilian captain - and a man described in various football biographies as - wait for it - "a hero."

Belfast Telegraph


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