Last night, my team Birmingham beat Yeovil on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time. In a controversial night at Huish Park, Yeovil used a throw-in given to them due to us having a player down injured, rather than to give the ball back which is what usually happens, to attack our goal and score an equalizer which forced extra time. It was only when Yeovil were in fact 3-2 ahead, that they allowed us to score a goal unchallenged. It was this, that caused most fury from the Blues fans and staff.
I'm going to put my neck on the line a bit here, and to some extent, defend the Yeovil players who scored a goal whilst Dan Burn was down injured. Whilst I'm not about to praise their sportsmanship for giving us a goal which ought to have happened 15 minutes earlier, I do feel that people have slightly overreacted to the issue.
Firstly, it needs to be accepted that on many levels, football is an unpleasant sport. It has a very aggressive nature, and players are constantly trying to find an edge over their opponents, and do whatever it takes to win. Anyone who disputes this, is lying to themselves quite frankly.
I see cheating going on on Match of the Day, I see cheating going on every game at St Andrews, I've been to watch a couple of matches at Solihull Moors and it all goes on even at that level. Until FIFA or UEFA step in and make a statement to say that any level of cheating will be treated with an immediate red card and say a ten match ban, which is what I think needs to be done, the truth is cheating will always inevitably be part and parcel of the game.
As I understand it, the situation was that Dan Burn went down injured, so the ball was kicked out of play. At that point, the opposition normally throw it back to them out of sportsmanship, but on this occassion, Yeovil used the throw to attack and they scored a goal.
The question I would ask, is what's the difference between Yeovil scoring when they should have kicked the ball back, and a penalty taker scoring when his teammate has dived to win it? If anything, the difference is that diving is immoral and cheating, whereas technically, a player is not lawfully obliged to throw the ball back to the team with an injured player, it's an issue of morality. But morality has very little place in football.
To me it's strange that a player falling to ground to win a set piece, when he could easily have stayed on his feet is greeted with thoughtful debate. Whereas in this case, when a player takes the wrong use of a throw-in, it's greeted with uproar. I think as a player if you're desperately chasing a goal in a match, you do every single thing possible to get it.
I'm not arguing that Yeovil did the right thing, nor am I arguing that what the Yeovil team did was any better than someone cheating. I'm saying that it's all gaining an unfair advantage, and that happens all the time.
Footballers will always look to get an edge for their team, and will do so at all costs. That is the stark reality of modern football.
By Gabriel Sutton