Diego Costa’s performance against Arsenal on Saturday made me think of our class discussion of Thomas Oates and John Pauly’s “Sports Journalism as Moral and Ethical Discourse.”
After the game Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho scoffed at criticism of his player:
“He played like he has to play and that is why you have full stadiums and you sell football to television around the world for millions and millions. Because the game has to be played like that, OK? Man of the match, for me.”
I’ve heard a number of takes on this incident. There’s been a lot of criticism of Costa, but I’ve also heard more than a few people agree with Mourinho, essentially on the grounds that it is foolish to let moralizing cloud our interpretation of what happens on the field.
I’m torn on this one. As a rule, I tend to think of moral judgments on sports as naive at best and hypocritical at worst. But I have an irrational hatred of Chelsea, so deep down I want the English FA to throw the book at Costa. What do you think? Should we embrace this kind of gamesmanship as all part of the fun of sports? Is Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger naive for insisting that the game be played the “right” way?
[UPDATE] Costa has been given a 3 match ban (one of which includes a game that he was unlikely to have played in) and Gabriel’s red card has been rescinded, pending appeal.