The World Cup’s Unfair Play Awards: 10 Players shortlisted for the Golden Elbow

Ollie Irish

13th, July 2006


Given the amount of cheating going on at the World Cup, FIFA should have scrapped the Fair Play award and instead handed out an Unfair Play award. That’s not going to happen – hell, if Zidane can win player of the tournament, that’s definitely not going to happen – so we’ve done it for you:

Who Ate All the Pies shamefully presents the Germany 2006 Unfair Play Awards, aka the Golden Elbow…

The World Cup’s Unfair Play Awards: 10 Players shortlisted for the Golden Elbow continued…

In reverse order…

10 Helder Postiga
Only used as a substitute, but lit up Germany with an impressive range of blatant dives in the penalty box. Great potential and a future Golden Elbow winner, surely.

9 Peter Crouch
If you’re lacking in inches, why not clamber up your opponent’s dreads to gain the upper hand? Smart play, Crouchinho!

8 Fabio Grosso
The lanky left-back stumbled bravely into Lucas Neill’s prostrate body. What’s a guy to do? Win the World Cup, that’s what.

7 Josip Simunic
FIFA congratulates Josep on being the first player in World Cup history to be shown three (count ’em) yellow cards. A stunning achievement and one that not even Pele, Cruyff or Maradona can equal. (Oh, and would young Graham see me after class to discuss extra maths lessons…)

6 Thierry Henry
When struck in the chest by a pube-headed Spaniard, best to fall down and clutch your face. Chest, face, it’s all the same these days. Thanks must go to Rivaldo for his sterling work in this field.

5 Marco Materazzi
A mixed bag. Scored in the World Cup final, but will rightly be remembered for his diplomatic dialogue with that venerable French genius. Well, somebody has to stand up to these people.

4 Luis Figo
Q. When is a headbutt not a headbutt? A. When it’s carried out by The Great Figo, swarthy master of illusion.

3 Daniele De Rossi
Used an elbow in self-defence against Brian McBride’s dangerously square head. FIFA applauds you Luca – you can have a winners’ medal too.

2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Winker. Clearly distraught not to win the Golden Elbow.

1 Zinedine Zidane
Congratulations to Zizou (insert ZZ Top headline here)! He wins the Golden Ball and the inaugural Golden Elbow – quite a feat. His mother and hard-working sister – all of his family, in fact – must be very proud.

Posted in Top 10s & lists

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  1. XTC says:

    well done for grosso and materazzi
    and zidane can win the fucking c**t award hehe he lost!

  2. lion says:

    I’d place Rooney in at number 4. Absolute lunatic behaviour in the QF but also threw his boots around when subbed. Grow up.
    And Grosso is plain unfair. I take it you’re not keen on Italians and thought 2 wasn’t enough for the top 10?

  3. Ollie, Editor says:

    No problem with Italians Lion – they fully deserved to win the World Cup. Grosso dived to win a penalty though and should have been booked, imo.

  4. Nick says:

    Headbutting someone in the chest is worse than:
    -Headbutting someone on the head?
    -Elbowing someone in the face?
    -Stamping on someone’s groin, then pushing another person?
    -Continual and consistent diving?

  5. Ollie, Editor says:

    It was the premeditation of Zidane’s butt that elevates it above the others. He actually had to walk over to Materazzi to assault him, giving him the time to think twice. Worse than Rooney (spontaneous idiocy), Figo (not really a proper headbutt, was it) and De Rossi (yes, McBride’s face was a mess), imo.

  6. mark says:

    I’m surprised that Beckham doesn’t get a mention in your list. During his rein as the English captain, it was obvious that his priorities weren’t with the national teams performance but with promoting men’s cosmetic products, talk about un-fucking-fair!
    what next for Beckham? A guest appearance on Eastenders is my bet.

  7. ian says:

    Perhaps Lucas Legbreaker Neill would have gained a bit more sympathy if he was a paragon of fair play himself. Hurrah for Grosso.

  8. Ollie, Editor says:

    Yep, I guess some would argue that Neill had it coming, although he did play brilliantly (and without a hint of foul play) for the Aussies.

  9. A Moretti says:

    Luca De Rossi is actually called Daniele De Rossi, but that’s just a minor glitch in your analysis. You forgot to mention that Henry also blatantly cheated in the penalty incident against Portugal. Malouda was all over the place against Italy too, with three embarassing dives in the box alone. The referee decided to give a penalty for that shocking initial dive. Grosso’s foot was grabbed by an inexperienced Neil, it was a 50-50, he didn’t throw himself to the ground, and he doesn’t deserve to be in this ranking if Malouda isn’t. I think Domenech, instructing his team to play on when Materazzi was on the ground and claiming that he was feigning any contact with Zidane, should also be in your standings. And yes, head-butting someone in the chest is worse than everything you said, Nick. Zidane should be put in jail for that.

  10. james says:

    Im assuming A. Moretti is Italian… and that was before I read his surname.
    Why not just put the whole French team in the top 10… that would keep you happy.

  11. truth says:

    How can you leave off Ukraine’s Shevchenko, who beat Tunisia by running into the box, tripping over his own feet, then performing the very tricky drop, flop and triple roll to get a penalty?

  12. Cliff Richard says:

    Did anyone put a stopwatch on the Italians to see how fast they became upright after a supposed injury (waiting to be waved in by the referee)??
    During the latter stages of the Czech match, they were falling down with every gust of wind, either suffering from stroke, cardiac arrest or a shot from the grassy knoll. They would then engage in 20-yard sprints as if miraculously healed by a Southern Baptist preacher.

  13. pie man says:

    Personally i find the dishonesty of the likes of C. Ronaldo,, Postiga, and even Gerard far more offensive and distasteful than the more violent conduct. There is something refreshingly honest about a pure undiluted ram butt to the chest.
    After a tournament of people diving 10 feet into the air when someone so much as drops a pube on their foot it was good to see a player naturally fall to the floor with no over dramatics, in the last 10 minutes of the tournament.

  14. Cliff Barua says:

    …… And Metarazzi is the biggest 6’5″ tub of goo I’ve ever seen (Michael Owen or Jermaine Defoe would have sent him flying).

  15. Jonny says:

    Let’s just face it… pretty much every team cheated at one point or another. It’s just that some cheated more than others (Portugal). That fact that the ref was giving these calls fueled the fire and unfortunately many close games were decided on such an incident. Portugal beat England by a questionable call and then lost to France on a questionable call. Italy beat Australia by a questionable call…the list goes on and on. Many teams that dominated other teams all game lost by pure chance. Its disheartening and something must be radically changed by FIFA. In Regards to Zidane, If it were any other player I would call him a thug, but not Zizou, that guy is all class. Obviously Materazzi said something terrible. I have no doubt in my mind that Materazzi deserved exactly what he got. He’s lucky it was only in the chest. It is unfortunate that it had to happen in his last game ever though.

  16. Tilapia says:

    At least Zidane’s behavior was not sneaking or coniving. In plain view, with the world watching, unconcerned about anyone’s idea of right or wrong, he made his decision and carried it out. Despite what anyone thinks about it, at least he didn’t try and cover it up with ridiculous theatrics. He didn’t throw himself onto the ground clutching his head in an attempt to get the Italian tosse(r)d out together with him.
    “Well, somebody has to stand up to these people.” How true, and it’s about time. Just that the timing was terrible.
    “Grosso’s foot was grabbed …”
    Funny, even when I watch the replays I don’t see that. I’ll have to keep watching for the replay that DOES have this little extra footage.

  17. mike says:

    Van Bommel and Bouhlarouz (Das Kannibal, as his fans call him) are the only players who intentionally and with premeditation tried to injure opposing team’s players out of the game. This is on a completely different level than anyting else that happened during this World Cup. They should top your list by a mile.

  18. I hope you keep this up during the season. But I had to respond to the Italian who thinks Zidane ought to be in jail for his headbutt. I hope you approve of jail time for many of those guys caught up in the cheating scandal in Italy. What they did was much more injurious to the game than Zidane’s act. They have struck against the very heart of the game. I don’t think relegation of any of the 4 clubs is enough. The individuals ought to be tried and if found guilty giving long sentences.

  19. mike says:

    Jonny — that’s actually not true, although it’s what you’ll see if you’re primed to see it from reading the English-language press coverage (the selective and biased choice of replays didn’t help either). Here are some stats:
    Other I’ve seen confirm this: Italy had more dives and more fake injuries than Portugal, France had more tantrums and bullied the ref more often (and had plenty of dives as well, and very effective ones too), and Germany is also up there on all scores (but Germany’s cheating, curiously enough, almost never made the cut for slow-motion replays…)

  20. A Moretti says:

    Replies to…
    James: Yes, I am Italian, and my team won the world cup. Do you actually think I would be happier if 10 French players were listed on this meaningless website? I am as happy as can be, on top of the world, looking down on all of you.
    Tilapia: You are obviously viewing the replays through a lense marked anti-Italy. The stereotype of Italians diving has strongly been disproved in this world cup, you’ll find that every team resorts to that sort of gamesmanship. Put the lense down, look carefully and with open-mindedness (difficult, I know) and you will see that Neil stretches out his left arm and obstructs Grosso. As I said before, it is a 50-50. The point is that Grosso did not dive.
    B Moriarty: If you were following the trials at all, you would know that the individuals involved will receive long sentences if proved guilty. Along with the 4 clubs, another 26 individuals are being tried, including referees and team executives. As with everyone else on this site, you ought to be informed before saying anything. And what makes you think I don’t approve jail time for those individuals in the first place? All I said was that Zidane deserved to be imprisoned. And he does, he’s a criminal.
    Jonny: “If it were any other player I would call him a thug, but not Zizou, that guy is all class” just shows your ignorance. Yes, Zidane is probably the greatest footballer of our time but he is a thug, no matter how good at football he is.
    HA! (This is fun)

  21. Kaya says:

    Intresting link, but I don’t think it will convince any Italian fans to stop complaining :). I think I’m the only Italian non-fan who really didn’t find Grosso’s move a dive. Australia had nothing to do in the quarter-finals, anyway, and Italy deserved to win. Besides, it was a nice run Grosso made and after playing 30 minutes a man down, it’s not hard to see he would’ve been too tired to take the extra energy to jump this hurdle that suddenly was around his feet. That said, how can you possibly look at the Grosso “incident” and call it a well-deserved penalty and not Malouda’s? Contact was made in both cases that “causes” the attacker to loose his footing(in Malouda’s run, one leg was knocked into the other). In these cases, only the “fallee” can know how recoverable the contact was.
    I think the website unintentionally brings up the good point of making one wonder who decides what qualifies. In the case of a dive, for example, there weren’t *so* many instances where players went down with absolutely no contact at all (Portugal does come to mind as the notable exception). It makes me pause to think how would FIFA would adjudicate with video footage assistance.

  22. Tilapia says:

    Mr. Moretti,
    I was 100% neutral for this tournament. I was also very impressed with the Italian style of playing, especially compared to previous tournaments. Their game against Germany was worthy of a World Cup final. They still did quite a lot of diving during the tournament, though, and I would love for you to elaborate on how the stereotype of Italian diving was disproved.
    Nope, I’m definitely not anti-Italian, though I can understand why you need to comfort yourself by making this assumption when someone says anything about the team that, in your opinion, is not high praise.
    “… looking down on all of you.” Yes, this seems to be a fairly common trait and a good part of the reason why so many people hate it when Italy win, deservedly or not.
    p.s. It’s “lens”, not “lense”.

  23. Celta says:

    Quotting Jonny:
    “pretty much every team cheated at one point or another. It’s just that some cheated more than others (Portugal). That fact that the ref was giving these calls fueled the fire and unfortunately many close games were decided on such an incident. Portugal beat England by a questionable call”
    End of Quote
    First of all i am Portuguese, but i still preserve my brain and honour. I wouldn’t like Portugal to be a winner if they did not win it fair and square.
    Now Jonny, do you know that:
    – The only simulated penalty on England-Portugal, was done by an English player?
    – Maniche wasn’t considered man of the match on Netherlands-Portugal because he got a Yellow card(Said FIFA) and Hargreaves was the man of the match in England-Portugal getting an Yellow card?
    – Germany and France committed the most fouls with 125; Italy with 152 suffered most fouls with Germany next on 133. No Portuguese unfair play here i believe…
    – Portugal accumulated the most yellow cards (24) with Ghana next on 18. 9 Of the Portuguese Yellow Cards was in Netherlands-Portugal were the Ref. was criticized by FIFA.
    – Netherland Football Association Employees talked to the referee before Netherlands-Portugal warning him on unfair play by Portugal and constant Dives. The FIFA representant needed too place a policeman at the ref’s door to stop any more unwanted visitors.
    – Figo had more tackles made on him than anyone else (42) with Portuguese team-mate Ronaldo on 36.
    – Part of France’s high ranking in the foul count was down to Henry: he committed more (20) than anyone else.
    – FIFA would made more money if Portugal would loose the game and England had won it?
    – Portugal “cheating” was so big that Deco’s first yellow card was motivated by a ball Portugal sent out to assist an injured player and a Netherland player didn’t return it and started an attack while Netherlands was loosing the game?
    – On the other hand on the Second Half of France-Portugal, while loosing the game Portuguese players returned a ball in the same conditions described above? I repeat: WHILE LOOSING THE GAME…
    This is just a sample of this World Cup. Believe what you want, just don’t tell us that we were cheaters just because English Fans have a hard time trying to accept that they loose 2 in a row with a much smaller country. And by the way… Do you refer the Red Card on Rooney as the questionable call by the ref.? It was just a little stepping on Ricardo Carvalho’s nuts… no big deal… he probably triped and the push just didn’t happened… Ronaldo ask for a card? Yes he did, and any other player, Portuguese, English or ANY OTHER, would do the same…
    Please… do learn how to loose… it might help you learn how to win…
    Yours Truly,

  24. A Moretti says:

    Kaya, read carefully, not once did I say that Grosso’s was a well-deserved penalty. This is the third time I call it a 50-50. You probably are the only non-Italian who doesn’t think it was a dive. Thumbs up to you. As for that link, well the statistics are clearly bollocks: Germany bullying ref 0 times?? Lucic was clearly sent off only because the Germans were clamouring for a red after a barely discernible tug on Miroslav Klose. And that is just one error.
    Tilapia, I thought it was obvious I was joking when I said I was looking down on you. And yet you were spot on in finding a spelling mistake, made by a non-native English speaker. Congratulations. The stereotype was clearly disproved by the fact that Italy didn’t actually dive as much as other teams, nor did they dive as much as anti-Italians would have liked them to. Anti-Italians need Italy to dive to feel pleased about themselves. 100% neutral? You wish. You even said it yourself that so many people hate it when Italy win. I don’t know where you are from, but you clearly belong to a group of deluded fans that are influenced by stereopytical views that, even once proven wrong, you insist on in order to feel happy about yourself. “Ah Italy won, but they dived and cheated so it’s ok”. You hate it when Italy win deservedly too? Nice one for your argument. You should clean that lens and adopt a more objective approach. I bet you thought Italy played loads of catenaccio as well. :D
    My top 5 for golden elbow award:
    1. Zidane (1-4 for violence)
    2. De Rossi
    3. Bouhlarouz
    4. Rooney
    5. Henry (for diving)
    Anyone who thinks diving is worse than violence is a criminal, like Zidane.

  25. Rstevens says:

    Pretty sure the picture you have of Henry is in fact Tim Howard – US/ManU Keeper

  26. Tilapia says:

    Um … sorry. I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

  27. John Wanker says:

    It’s all about how biased you are. In terms of teams, there isn’t one who cheats a lot more than others, but people watch the game with bias : if you already see Italy as a cheating team, when you watch them play, you’ll pay more attention to it. Some teams have the reputation for cheating, while others don’t and get away with it. Honestly, teams like the Netherlands cheat as much as Italy; it’s all the same.