THE BUZZ word this week seems to be apology, but just like that little word IF, you can read a lot into apologies.
Are they sincere? Are they forced? Are they said between gritted teeth? Are they a cover up?
In the case of Theo Walcott, the Arsenal and England forward who owned up to trying to con referee Phil Dowd by taking a dive in the Leeds United penalty area, I think he was genuinely contrite.
“I was trying to win the penalty. I am not the sort of player to do it, but I own up to it and apologise,” said Walcott immediately after the game.
Why do I think he is truly sorry? Most of all because he didn’t need to say anything.
Few had detected the dive, it wasn’t one of those cringe inducing swallow dives as perfected by Ronaldo, Drogba, Pires etc, and from what I’ve heard on the grapevine Walcott is a very decent level headed type.
That in itself doesn’t make him innocent, but I think he intelligently nipped the situation in the bud by coming out with his statement, and by saying sorry probably averted the ignominy of an FA charge.
Now take the case of Liverpool’s Ryan Babel who went to the trouble of imposing a Manchester United shirt on a picture of referee Howard Webb and tweeting to the world: “And they call him one of the best referees. That’s a joke”.
The fact that Babel got up to skullduggery in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s defeat to enemies Manchester United might explain his foolishness, but in no way can it be excused.
His apology was less convincing than Walcott’s. The Dutchman merely said: “Sorry Howard Webb.”
Babel claimed it was an emotional reaction to losing an important game, but it revealed incredible immaturity, and yet again acts as a warning to sportsmen that using this form of technology can get them into hot water.
England cricketers Kevin Pietersen, Tim Bresnan and Azeem Rafiq know all about that.
Babel can expect to be hearing from the FA and rightly so.