It has always made me laugh that the Italians have no words for fair play. They say: "il fair play".
Tonight the commentators on Arsenal-Liverpool have been discussing this "English virtue" (ha!) in terms which might surprise the English media, currently undergoing one of the mass handwringing exercises with which it intermittently intersperses its relentless jingoism. I have been lent a small telly by a kind friend of mine, P, a chap I met in the Sud and who has a spare set on the grounds that two 42" flat screen tellies in a one-bedroom flat is probably enough already, and the third TV can be safely sent out on loan to play out its final years at a lower level (i.e. being used sporadically by someone who hasn't had any kind of TV for about 4 years now). So using this exciting new technology I have been watching Arsenal draw frustratingly with bloody Liverpool in an annoying way.
Anyway, when Hleb broke through impressively into the box skipping past several challenges only to be brought down by ?Kuyt?, the commentators both felt it should - or at least could - have been a penalty. One then pointed out to the other the astonishing lack of protests about the decision:
"Neither Wenger nor the home players are protesting to the referee, they seem to have accepted the decision."
"Indeed, an impressive display of sporting behaviour."
"Absolutely, it's right that when others display superior behaviour to us here [in Italy] that we should acknowledge it."
Superior behaviour?? Sporting conduct? ha. Of course, the same handwringing media who are lamenting the current handcart -> hell vector in English football would probably still feel happy to assert the greater sportingness of the English over the Foreigner, especially of course the Italian, long accepted as the epitome of dirty cheating. But really, to be lavished with praise for... not arguing with the ref over a slightly contentious decision? since when was following the rules worthy of special praise?
Surely "an impressive display of sporting conduct" should require some special *positive* action, not merely the absence of bad behaviour? or am I hopelessly out of date?