Date: 24th August 2006 at 1:59pm
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Wednesday evening would once again see scenes that have no place in football. Ben Thatcher’s appalling challenge on Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes would once again raise the question where do you draw the line?

Nobody can condone the actions of Ben Thatcher, a former Welsh International under Rovers boss Mark Hughes, and although some Rovers players are not adverse to such controversies (we know who I am talking about) these kinds of events have no place on a football field and should be dealt with in the harshest manner. Rovers Captain Andy Todd himself gave Andy Johnson a look and appeared to put himself in an awkward position as he luckily avoided giving away a penalty.

It is all very well hitting Thatcher with a heavy fine, and maybe even a lengthily suspension, but lets face it he earns more in a week than most of us the common football fan do in a year, so money shouldn`t be a problem. Should you or I perform such a disgraceful act on a Sunday League ground, or anywhere in public life for that matter we would be up on an assault charge! Footballers, Ben Thatcher, Rovers’ own, anyone needs to know that they are not above the law. It would be highly unlikely that Mendes would even press charges as his doing so would open a whole new can of worms and leave him the target of mass abuse even though he is in the right.

Although I am of the opinion that people do not imitate the actions of those they see on TV or film without having it within themselves to do so before hand anyway, these stars are role models, and such actions will be looked upon as “acceptable” if people continue to get away with these flailing elbows or wild career threatening two footed lunges.

Only Ben Thatcher will honestly know if he had the intention of taking out Pedro Mendes or not, even though the cameras which pick up everything from every angle nowadays, missing little or nothing very much suggest that he did.

It is such incidents like this that will ruin football. The game is a physical sport, but if events like this, and the two footed diving, no attempt to win the ball tackles continue then it will no longer be a physical sport and it will lose its appeal. Many of the genuine tackles are being outlawed due to such things, and should the other events that have no place on the field continue then the game will basically revert to a “tag” form of sport.

I have nothing personal against Manchester City, or Ben Thatcher himself (he is quoted as being one of the nicest guys off the field you could meet) but all true football fans will know he has to be punished severely; footballing superstars are not above the law. Will it need a footballer to be left in a critical state before action is taken, how far can too far go?

 

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