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Home   /   Crossing the line in sport: Is cheating always wrong?

In the 115th minute of the Supercopa final, Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde was left chasing rival Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, who was clean through on goal. With absolutely zero intent to try and win the ball, he hacked Morata down to the ground. Of course he was met with fury from the Atletico Madrid players as well as a straight red card from the referee. 

Valverde claimed he ‘had no choice’ but to bring Morata down and he was hailed a hero by Real Madrid fans, as well as reports such as sportbible titling it ‘the greatest professional foul ever’. To almost every spectator, and especially Valverde, he was met with a pat on the head from Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid’s manager as he understood it was the only thing Valverde could do to keep the game 0-0. Valverde ended up with the Man of the Match award alongside a winners medal as Real Madrid went on to win on penalties 4-1.

Within every sport at the elite level, there are thousands of people employed solely to figure out ways to get any sort of minor advantage over an opposition in an appropriate and legal manner. However, cheating is described as acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage and this can occur blatantly or slyly, for example the use of steroids or match fixing is a clear and obvious example of cheating but you reach a thin line between the two when tackling issues such as intentional fouls and time wasting as it can be deemed as gamesmanship as rules aren’t always broken. Also you reach a blurred line when intentional fouls are committed as they commit a foul, knowing the repercussions of receiving some sort of penalty wether it be a red card, concede a free kick et cetera, rules have been broken so does it count as cheating?

Professional fouls cause controversy as it is breaking a rule and creating an advantage in an unfair manner, however it is widely accepted and the reaction from this tackle alone shows that people respect and value this sort of gamesmanship and even the manager of the team affected acknowledged the necessity in it. Social media went crazy with it going viral and people were mainly defending Valverde decision, with very few people saying he is a cheat. 

From a Real Madrid perspective he was smart and acted in a necessary manner, but from an Atletico Madrid perspective he has cheated and acted in an unfair manner, so when debating topics such as cheating in sport, it is all subjective and circumstantial. If Atletico had gone on and won this wouldn’t be spoken about half as much and the outrage from their fanbase would have been minimised, but the fact the circumstance was Real Madrid went on to win, this action has changed the outcome of the game. 

The idea of Valverde being a cheat is again subjective with Atletico fans believing he is and other fans disagreeing in the majority as it was ‘tactical’, ‘genius’ and ‘heroic’. 

Valverde’s actions here technically are cheating, however it doesn’t devalue the integrity of the game and it brought his team and fans glory with the only side effect being him missing 3 future matches. This example shows that cheating isn’t always necessarily wrong if done on a small scale such as this, as it failed to break an major norms of the sport

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