We all love the Thai league and want to stop anything holding back the development and success of Thai football. Play acting is holding it back.
Last weekend, Southampton snatched a 0-1 away victory at Leeds United in the nPower Championship. The televised contest produced a really entertaining nailbiter as Saints’ early goal was followed by a siege of their own area for almost the entire remainder of the game. This produced a mixture of world class saves by keeper Kelvin Davis and some desperate goalmouth scrambles by the visitors' back line..
The game is available for full download here. Normally there’s little point watching a game where the result is already known but this game is worthwhile, as it epitomises a difference in English football culture compared to Thailand.
The visiting Saints team - including Japanese player Tadanari Lee, Brazilian Del Prado and Italian Jose Fonte - were absolutely battered throughout the second half and at times looked truly desperate simply to slow the game or get the ball out of play while defending their single goal lead.
So how many times did a Southampton player throw himself down and roll around in “agony”? Not once. I repeat: not on one single occasion during the ninety minutes or three minutes added time. The game was all the more exciting for it.
Why? It could be the culture of the English game. It could be that players knew the ref wouldn’t tolerate it or it simply could be that the players think a game of football should be decided by playing football, not acting.
In my own opinion, it’s a mixture of the three, but culture must play a key part, as I’ve never seen a foreigner in the Thai leagues such as Micheal Byrne, Zesh Rehman, Lee Tuck or Jelani Grant roll around and play dead either.
Anyway, if you want to show any fans just how different things are done in the English game, this is as good an example as you’ll find.