COMMENT: Vardy’s crafty gamesmanship just the same as Suarez

Andy West 16:35 15/03/2017
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Jamie Vardy reacts after Samir Nasri's headbutt.

Barcelona’s dramatic comeback in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain last week certainly sparked some strong emotions among those who didn’t want them to win, with the Catalan team heavily accused of ugly gamesmanship.

The main target of the anger was Luis Suarez for his theatrical tumble to win the penalty which made the score 5-1 on the night, but the Uruguayan striker was by no means the only man in the spotlight as Barca were generally accused of cheating their way into the last eight.

Fast forward a week, and many of the same people who lambasted Barcelona are now effusive in their admiration of the heroic exploits of plucky little Leicester, whose brave and wholehearted performance against Sevilla on Tuesday night saw their inspirational fairytale continue as they marched into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

This is the same Leicester whose centre forward and in many ways emblematic player, Jamie Vardy, cynically manufactured the dismissal of an opponent by – in a manner not too dissimilar to Luis Suarez a week previously – heavily exaggerating contact.

Sure, Vardy didn’t actually throw himself to the ground when he tamely butted heads with the foolishly immature Samir Nasri as they bickered on the edge of Leicester’s box.

But, having provoked the handbags at dawn argument in the first place, he then dramatically threw his head backwards and stumbled a few steps, just to make sure that referee Daniele Orsato saw exactly what had happened.

And it wasn’t only that incident because Vardy – as he generally does – spent much of the evening looking for fouls, gesturing wildly to Orsato for free-kicks to be awarded and reacting angrily when they were denied.

You could say: fair enough. Leicester are so dangerous from set-pieces that attempting to win them is a legitimate tactic. Indeed, the crucial opening goal from Wes Morgan came from a free-kick won by a (genuine) foul on Vardy.

Or you could say, as so many people did about Suarez last week, that Vardy’s theatrics are ruining the sport, that he should be retrospectively punished and that Leicester are a bunch of cheats.
Because if you say that about Barcelona but don’t say it about the Foxes, it’s sheer hypocrisy.

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