Martin Dowey’s Column - Italians’ diving is a disgrace

BARI, ITALY - AUGUST 29:  Milos Krasic (L) of Juventus FC battles for the ball with Abdelkader Mohamed Ghezzal of AS Bari during the Serie A match between Bari and Juventus at Stadio San Nicola on August 29, 2010 in Bari, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
BARI, ITALY - AUGUST 29: Milos Krasic (L) of Juventus FC battles for the ball with Abdelkader Mohamed Ghezzal of AS Bari during the Serie A match between Bari and Juventus at Stadio San Nicola on August 29, 2010 in Bari, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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I HAVE said before in this column that I will watch any kind of football that is beamed to my television.

Be it Cheltenham Reserves v Torquay Reserves or Maccabi Tel Aviv against Beitar Jerusalem, I’ll give it a go.

I was pleasantly surprised the other night when I found a Coppa Italia second leg clash between Juventus and AC Milan on one of the channels.

I pulled up a footstool and shuffled into the settee in anticipation of what I thought would be an interesting encounter.

How wrong I was. What I took from that game is the fact that Italian football is totally unwatchable.

I’m not sure if the pitches of the Delle Alpi or the San Siro have been loaded with springs, but it certainly looked like it because players of all nationalities were throwing themselves all over the place.

It was absolutely ridiculous how every player dived so blatantly, even though there was clearly no contact.

To make matters worse, the referee bought it all match long.

Yes, there were a few flashes of quality on the pitch, but it was just ruined by this baffling behaviour.

In my view a football match should flow, but in that country it just can’t because the official is tooting his whistle every 15 seconds.

I can remember Channel 4 grabbing the broadcasting rights for Italian football back in the 1990s and 2000s.

It always impressed me how commentator Peter Brackley managed to stretch out a players’ name to make himself sound good.

One example was the way he’d say Del Pieroooo - he struggled when Paul Ince got the ball though.

Anyway, I can recall the odd dive, Jurgen Klinsmann played there for a while, but there is no way I can remember it being this bad.

Maybe this is why the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi can play so long, because it isn’t about how you play, you obviously get marks for how you dive.

I am also stunned that the Italians, who we are often told are so passionate about their football, can pay to watch this.

A little research told me that tickets for a Juventus match can stretch from £30 for a match against Lecce, to over £300 if you want to watch them taking on Inter.

You can go and sit and watch for free down at your local swimming baths to see similar diving action, though people might think that you are a little odd.

Despite being a Derby County fan, I still watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night and I had the pleasure of taking in Everton and Blackburn drawing 1-1 at Goodison Park this season.

Despite the odd Italian playing in the Premier League and there being a few Italian managers, these tactics haven’t managed to take hold of our game - just yet anyway.

There is plenty of talk about football becoming a non-contact sport, but that would take the fun out of it.

There is a part of me that quite likes watching a muck and nettles battle, just like Scarborough Athletic’s match against Hall Road on Saturday.

Lets hope that the English game doesn’t descend to these depths because it would be a runied sport if it heads in that direction.