It's safe to say that women footballers have caught up with the men. They'll never have the same levels of physical power at their disposal, it's true, and the goalies are still, by and large, a bunch of Alan Roughians. But they've got the diving and conniving down to the finest of fine arts.
The last time I wrote about the women's game, during the European Championship in England a couple of years ago, it was all looking good. They had the moves, the skill and the organisation, but simulation, that blight on the modern men's game, was largely absent; no one tried to get anyone else sent off, no one collapsed in the approximate vicinity of an opponent as if felled by an elephant rifle.
Times change. I'd been looking forward to Thursday's World Cup semi-final between the United States and Brazil – the No 1 side in the world against the flair team of the tournament – and the Brazilians' 4-0 victory contained some lovely, thrilling football. But for all their skill, the winners were an absolute disgrace.
The opening exchanges were like a stuntman's masterclass, with more pratfalls than an episode of Benny Hill. Yet the former England international Lucy Ward, in the BBC 2 commentary box with Guy Mowbray, was thoroughly approving.
"Quite tasty," she said. "Quite good, Guy. It makes the game that little bit better to watch."
Next came the moment the women's game finally arrived. The Brazilians were in the middle of a great move down the left that was even slightly reminiscent of the blokes' legendary goal in the 1970 World Cup final. Then Cristiane fell into the back of Shannon Boxx, and as the referee strode over, the Brazilian stuck up two fingers (pictured left) to remind her that Boxx had already been booked. That's bad enough.
But then, as red inevitably followed yellow, Cristiane began fist-pumping and gurning as if a) she'd scored the winning goal in the World Cup final and b) discovered cures for cancer and the common cold.
Ward came to her senses. "That is absolutely abysmal,", she said, while Mowbray, to his credit, could hardly speak for a moment. "That really is despicable," he eventually concluded.
To make it worse for the poor old Yanks – and the rest of us – Cristiane scored a lovely third goal as Brazil ran riot. Rumours that she's planning to add "Ronaldo" to her name remain unconfirmed.Reuse content