During this World Cup tournament it has become obvious that if mistakes happen on the field, no one is to blame except the referee. Never would a team that benefits from a bad call dream of questioning that call. Only the team that suffers complains, and that resolves nothing. But what if the team that benefited asked the referee to reverse a call out of fairness. That would have traction. It is never done, yet to accept the benefit of a patently wrong decision is poor sportsmanship whether it is normal behavior or not. Rather than meekly accept the status quo, we should ask for higher standards from players and managers. Does no one think that it is wrong to benefit from a tainted goal or to deny to your opponent one that is legitimate? In real life, if you find a wallet, would you not return it to the owner? Do you need a police officer to instruct you to do so? FIFA does have a Fair Play Code.
The generic concept of fair play is a fundamental part of the game of football. It represents the positive benefits of playing by the rules, using common sense and respecting fellow players, referees, opponents and fans.
The Fair Play Campaign was conceived largely as an indirect result of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico, when the handball goal by Diego Maradona stimulated the admirable reaction of the England coach, Sir Bobby Robson. Since then, the campaign has had with the unconditional support of former FIFA President João Havelange and current President Joseph S. Blatter.
To give fair play more visibility, FIFA created a programme that turned the generic notion into a simple design and an easy to understand code of conduct that could be recognised and respected by players and fans alike.
Fair Play has a fundamental role in sport and there is a need to apply it to all sporting activities, especially children's activities. Children need strong values to grow up with, and football, being a team sport, makes them realise how essential discipline, respect, team spirit and fair play are for the game and for life.
FIFA's Fair Play Campaign is represented by the slogan "My Game is Fair Play".
There are 10 tenets to FIFA's play fair campaign which you can find on their website. Number one is to play fair. They're still working on that one but it's a start.
Carrying the sport as life metaphor further, participants should not cheat, but in case they do, there are the officials, the police of the game. It is their responsibility to prevent fraud. Frequently they fail. But in the real world, there are not only police, their is a judicial system that backs them. Where is FIFA's judicial system? If a player commits a "crime", a handball, which the referee does not see, that player should be punished all the same. Does the statute of limitations last just 90 minutes. How about diving? Make the punishment severe enough and players will think twice about this sort of cheating.
When France qualified for this World Cup courtesy of a Thierry Henry handball versus Ireland, it foreshadowed the series of dismal officiating decisions which have marred the tournament so far. By all rights, Ireland should have made the trip to South Africa, not France. In hindsight, this would have been less embarrassing for Les Bleus. But is technology the answer to poor officiating? Maybe, in part, but couldn't most obvious blunders be resolved by sportsmanship?
When Diego Maradona scored his famous "hand of God" goal in 1986, when Thierry Henry's handball cost Ireland a trip to the World Cup, when Carlos Tevez scored an offside goal and England were denied a goal on Sunday, could not all these incidents have been rectified by sportsmanship. Would it be so wrong for a player or a manager, out of a sense of fairness, to decline to accept a goal if it was not earned fairly? Wishful thinking in a world where victory is more important that justice. Sadly, soccer is after all a metaphor for life. For children who play, the lesson is: if you can get away with it, do it.