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That's not cheating.

If you read ar­ti­cles about Maradona in Eng­lish me­di­a, of which there are many, you'll see ap­pre­ci­a­tion and com­pli­ments but there's a con­stan­t. They say that in the first goal (and no­body needs to be told what "the first goal" is) Maradona cheat­ed.

Sure, the sec­ond one (and ev­ery­one knows what "the sec­ond one" mean­s) was great and all but the first one ... he cheat­ed.

For in­stance, Pe­ter Shilton, the bit­ter­est briton, a man whose main fea­ture as a goal­keep­er was not keep­ing those two goals says:

I don't par­tic­u­lar­ly like be­ing as­so­ci­at­ed so fre­quent­ly with an in­ci­dent where the world's great­est play­er cheat­ed and got away with it. It was the ref­er­ee and lines­man­'s fault re­al­ly. No, you sad, sad lit­tle large man, it's your fault that be­ing al­most two me­ters tall and weart­ing gloves you were beat­en to an air­ball by a guy that's four­teen inch­es short­er than you and did­n't jump much.

But be­yond that ... why do they call that cheat­ing? Let's agree that yes, he punched it. But ... cheat­ing?

Against the rules. Sure. If the ref­er­ee saw it, it was a free kick for Eng­land.

Al­so against the rules was Fen­wick­'s kick­ing him in minute 9, and that was a free kick for Ar­genti­na. Against the rules was the el­bow in minute 44. Al­so against the same rules as bump­ing his head at 5 and 20 of the sec­ond half.

Not on­ly against the rules, but they caught him!

The pun­ish­ment for each one of those was the same as for punch­ing the ball like Diego did in the first goal. The on­ly "first goal" there is. Was Fen­wick cheat­ing?

No, Fen­wick did­n't cheat. If he land­ed some tack­le that was not pun­ished he did not call the ref­er­ee and told him "here's his kneecap, free kick for them gu­v'nor".

No, Fen­wick, just like Maradona and ev­ery­one that ev­er kicked a ball did what he tought need­ed do­ing, and if it worked, it worked. Be­cause that's the game.

But al­ways, al­ways, good writ­ers and jour­nal­ists whether in The Guardian or in But­t-upon-Avon's Dai­ly Pen­ny­far­thing will say "Maradona cheat­ed". Be­cause for some it's a worse sin to score a goal than to break a leg. Be­cause they will make a show of moral rel­a­tivism speak­ing about re­bel­lious­ness to pre­tend they jus­ti­fy it, but in truth what they are jus­ti­fy­ing is that that year they were a team of plod­ding farm­ers whose on­ly chance was to kick him be­cause they could nev­er see the bal­l.


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