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Defending Krasic- A History of Video Evidence in Disciplinary Measures

For better or worse, Italians are rather notorious for play-acting, diving, and otherwise practicing furbizia, or cleverness. While we may practice it dramatically, I do not think Italians are any worse than the English or Spanish. (Cue tapes of Steven Gerrard/Wayne Rooney diving, or of Iniesta hitting the deck instantly against the Netherlands) In England, particularly, there is a bias against foreigners, be it coaches or players. If an English player dives, it goes rather unnoticed. If a foreigner does, well, he's a cheat and a scumbag. There is more than a hint of that in the media campaign against Krasic, a Mediaset journalist (in light of the Serbia-Italy fiasco) went as far as saying "I thought he was a serious player, instead he's only a Serb."

Years ago, the FIGC allowed the Disciplinary Committee to punish a player retroactively using video evidence. Unlike other countries, the committee can even review actions that the referee has already adjudicated. It was originally used against violent actions unseen by the referee, the first ever case in which video evidence was used, was on September 18th, 1999. Ibrahim Ba, of Perugia, headbutted Fabio Macellari in an off-the-ball incident. Pierluigi Collina did not see the incident, and Ba remained on the pitch. He received a 3 match ban, later reduced to 2 on appeal. As the SKY and Mediaset empires grew, with more TV shows dedicated to calcio, more TV cameras in the stadiums, obviously the scrutiny of referees and players performance would increase as the moviola and controversy earned a new weapon.

However, it wouldn't be until 2005 that a player was punished for simulation. Coincidentally, it was Ivica Iliev, a Serbian winger, who took a dive against Ascoli. It probably didn't help his case that he was seen wildly celebrating the penalty, receiving the maximum ban of 3 matchdays. The next to be hit by a retroactive ban was Adriano of Inter, who dove against his future club, Roma, winning a penalty and getting Doni a yellow card. He received a 2-day match ban. The third, and last player to have been banned retroactively for simulation, was Marcelo Zalayeta for his dive against Juventus, where he earned a penalty and a yellow card for ex-teammate Gianluigi Buffon. He was given a 2-day match ban like Adriano, although his was eliminated on appeal. (He argued he dove to avoid running into Gigi, which is reasonable to me, although clearly wasn't bothered the referee gave him a spot-kick.)

That, believe it or not, is all they've ever done for simulation. Yes, apparently, there has not been another dive in the last decade that the Disciplinary Committee saw fit to issue a retroactive ban. Not Lucio, just a few weeks ago. Not Luca Toni. Not Materazzi. Not Ambrosini. Not Balotelli. Not Ronaldinho. Not Milito. (or Milito again) Or Mutu. There's a lot more of them, but you get the idea- none of those players were sanctioned by the referee for diving, (does seem odd a yellow for diving in-game, 2 match ban if afterwards?) and none of them received match-bans after the fact.

Milos gets the Tapiro d'Oro, Staffelli tells him next time he needs to act more dramatic (like Italians) and roll around a bit.

So why all this media pressure on Krasic? It's simple:

#1- Milos is Serbian. It's easy to hate on Serbs right now. Eastern Europeans also endure more racism in Italy than Mutu beating down a waiter, who was rumored to call him a gypsy.

#2- Krasic plays for Juventus. So a hated ethnicity playing for a team hated for supposed cheating. A match made in moviola haven.

#3- We're playing Milan this weekend. Let me go into this one a bit further:

Mediaset is the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy. They have been hammering the Krasic story in all their news reports, immediately when he dove, a Mediaset reporter asked "how long will he get a ban for?" Mediaset was founded and continues to be owned by Silvio Berlusconi, who of course owns Milan. Robinho took an absurd dive against Napoli which provoked a brawl, and yet you don't see La Stampa actively advocating for him to be banned this weekend. It's happened before- Ibrahimovic was retroactively banned in 2004-2005 using TV evidence for an elbow on Cordoba from a month ago, given a 3-match ban that ruled him out of the decisive Scudetto showdown with Milan at the San Siro. Who provided that TV evidence to the FIGC? Mediaset, coincidentally. (It didn't end up mattering)

Did Krasic dive? Absolutely. Is he the 3rd player ever to dive and get caught by TV? No. Is it a coincidence Mediaset, owned by Milan, has been playing the cheating/ethnic/whatever card against Krasic to get him banned in light of the upcoming Milan game? No. Doesn't it seem strange that no Italian has ever been banned retroactively by TV evidence? It's two Serbs, an Uruguayan (revoked) and a Brazilian.

Moral of the story- if you're going to aggressively crack down on diving, you need to do it consistently. The FIGC is not doing that, and throwing the book at Milos with a big upcoming game reeks of Gallani and Berlusconi's games.

In closing, from RAI's Zazzaroni: "This is only an uproar from a bunch of rabbits ready to turn themselves into hyenas. Of course an incident like this, with one of the best players of this championship and ahead of Milan-Juve will cause a lot of confusion and debate. However, I'm convinced that if this kind of thing happened, for example, to Olivera of Lecce before the game against Chievo, at the most there'd be two written lines about it at the very end of the show."