James Lawton: Johnson's diving confession shows football morality has hit a new low

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It is some game when cheating is endorsed by someone of Alan Shearer's weight

It seems like a lifetime ago but it is merely 15 years since Robbie Fowler told a referee and TV cameras that he had not been brought down by David Seaman in the penalty area during a vital collision between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Even then, though, the gesture was considered quixotic enough for leading TV analyst Andy Gray to declare: "His manager should give him a clip around the ear because it could cost his club the title."

Gray was doing no more than stating the reality of football morality, which is surely true of Adam Johnson's explanation for his head-long reaction to the featherlight contact made by Fulham defender Chris Baird at the weekend.

But then Johnson was maybe doing something slightly different and certainly quite elegantly when he said: "I felt the contact. Sometimes in normal time, when you are in the moment, you anticipate the contact. There is a fine line between diving and anticipating contact but I felt it and went down. These things happen." Indeed they do, and each time it is another little pinprick into the concept that professional football will ever again be inhabited by someone like Fowler, who for at least a fleeting moment put the importance of fair play before the imperative of winning in any way you could.

There is no hatchet here for Johnson, one of the more entertaining sights in Premier League football, any more than for the vast majority of his work-mates who would have done precisely the same had they had the opportunity. Even the aggrieved Fulham manager Martin Jol conceded that it was probably all in the game.

Some game, though, when the process of cheating is not only encouraged by the football climate but also endorsed by someone of Alan Shearer's weight on Match of the Day. Shearer may remember that when his up-and-coming young sidekick in the national team, Michael Owen, first emerged, his England manager Glenn Hoddle was pointing out that his penalty-winning instincts, a most valuable commodity at the highest level, were perhaps not all that they should be.

English football has rarely known such full-blooded, up-front practitioners as Gray and Shearer, which means that there is no shortage of perspective for Johnson's confessional.

It is one which puts at the top of every agenda the requirement to gain an advantage at any cost. That's the name of the game or, should we say, a progressively cynical business.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain