Euro 2016: 'Actors' escape, with Portugal key culprits

Albania's midfielder Amir Abrashi (left) vies for the ball with Romania's midfielder Ovidiu Hoban during the Euro 2016 football match between Romania and Albania in Lyon on June 19.
Albania's midfielder Amir Abrashi (left) vies for the ball with Romania's midfielder Ovidiu Hoban during the Euro 2016 football match between Romania and Albania in Lyon on June 19. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • A survey of the group stage by The Times - it scrutinised all 54 hours of action - has identified 107 cases of simulation, of which precisely none prompted a booking.

In 99 of these 107 incidents, the player in question had indeed been fouled but either fell to the ground unnecessarily or clearly exaggerated the effects of the contact.

Play-acting by a player who has been awarded a free kick for a foul still constitutes unsporting behaviour, which should earn a yellow card.

But referees are so reluctant to book players in these circumstances that there is no record of it ever having happened in the English Premier League.

Portugal top the simulation table on 10, for which they can blame Ricardo Quaresma, who produced four thespian episodes despite playing for less than a game and a half.

Probably the worst case of simulation came from Ovidiu Hoban, the Romania midfielder, who rolled over 51/2 times after being kicked in the back by Migjen Basha of Albania.

Mentions should also go to Mihai Pintilii, also of Romania, and Sami Khedira, the Germany midfielder, for some ground-beating with their fists to alleviate terrible pain - only for them to get up and run away within seconds.

Of the handful of "genuine" dives - where a player was not fouled at all - perhaps the worst was by Gareth Bale in Wales' game against Russia. He kicked out his leg sideways to make contact with Sergei Ignashevich's leg and fell over. But neither a penalty nor a yellow card were given.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline ''Actors' escape, with Portugal key culprits'. Print Edition | Subscribe