The second round of world cup football has been much more neutral-friendly, bringing in a lot more goals and excitement compared to the opening games. However, along with it has returned the so-called “dark arts” of football. The first few matches were free of any noticeable cheating or diving, but a number of teams have already turned to it to gain an unfair advantage.

We can start with Nigerian defender Sani Keita who got sent off for allegedly hitting in the face Greek Vasileious Torosidis, a decision that the replays clearly showed was wrong. It was a very costly red card, as it turned the match in Greece’s favor, allowing them to go on and win 2-1.

A number of other dubious decisions followed, including sending off South Africa’s goalkeeper in the 3-0 defeat to Uruguay, and sending off Harry Kewell in Australia’s 1-1 draw with Ghana, though few would have been surprised to see Italy dive for a penalty to secure a 1-1 draw with New Zealand. The Italians are masters of the dark arts, and it seems to be an accepted part of their game.

Perhaps the dumbest red card though has to be the one Kaka received in the 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast. This time the Brazilian didn’t even make the slightest reaction, but Kadar Keita’s play-acting was enough to fool the referee. It seems like it doesn’t matter who says or sees what, if a player is holding his face for whatever reason, someone is getting sent-off, and that’s that. The trouble for Ivory Coast, though, is that getting Kaka sent off will only damage their chances of Brazil beating Portugal heavily in the last game.


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