big brother is watching

Modern technology, and the way it’s seeped into our everyday lives, sometimes blows my mind. That I can sit in my living room in Cincinnati and watch a live Premiership match — taking place nearly 4,000 miles from said living room — unfold on a picture so clear I can literally see blades of grass kick up on a slide tackle, or beads of sweat explode off a player’s head while heading the ball, is something truly to marvel.

premier league cameras
premier league cameras are like the eye of sauron: all-seeing and ever-watching.

While these HD telecasts are definitely luxuries, they’ve definitely enhanced the match day experience for foreign fans of the European leagues. Most of these fans will never be able to afford a ticket to their favorite club’s match, let alone the costs to travel there and back. Being one of those lucky enough to have watched a game in person, I can say with great certainty that watching on your high def television isn’t a bad substitute. Hell, you could even say it has its advantages: it’s cheaper, you can watch a wider selection of matches, and there’s the lowered possibility of getting cornered by hooligans after a match… I  mean, I don’t know what your friends are like.

But what really blows my mind about the dawn of the HD-era in worldwide football broadcasting is how the players could possibly forget that their every move is being broadcast to, and watched by, the entire world.

Premier League rules dictate that there are a minimum of 24 cameras in each team’s stadium in order to provide every viewing angle possible during a match. The players appear to be aware of at least some of them, judging by how often they tend to run in and kiss the camera during moments of celebration. But in times of frustration or menacing evil, some players just seem to think that nobody is watching them. Yet the video cameras are still there, ever watching. And if the TV guys somehow miss it, there’s an army of journolists and fans with camera phones there to serve as backups. Virtually nothing can go unnoticed.

Do the players think they’re too clever? Well, we all know that most footballers aren’t known for their minds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think of themselves as clever. Just ask Joey Barton.

Perhaps they think their actions will be too quick to be noticed, or could at least be interpreted as unintentional. In a day of age where slow motion replays of player two-second player reaction being stretched into 10-second “emotion shots”, they shouldn’t be naive enough to think that their quick actions can’t be dissected by the millisecond.

Yet, whether through ignorance or arrogance, players persist to make these idiotic decisions. And for one reason or another, they always seem to come in bunches of three.

First up, Real Madrid’s Pepe gave us this boneheaded move during their midweek Copa del Rey first-leg tie with hated rivals Barcelona:

real madrid's pepe stamping on barcelona's messi

Pepe, we all saw you alter your stride and look down to make sure that you stepped on Lionel Messi’s hand. To brush it off as accidental in your “apology” is an insult to anyone with eyes. Each additional angle you bring into play makes your actions provides even more evidence against your cause. Considering the Spanish FA should still have you on a multi-year ban for this ludicrous attack from a few years ago, you’re lucky to have had the opportunity to be this stupid again. This kind of act is an embarrassment, and is one of the reasons that make me ashamed to publicly admit that I’m a supporter of Real Madrid these days.

Just why Pepe would choose to stamp down on something that has very little affect on Messi’s spectacular playing ability — like a foot, perhaps? — is further proof that players aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.

Next in line for thinking that nobody will catch his dirty tricks is Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott:

manchester city's joleon lescott elbowing tottenham's younes kaboul

Perhaps not as obvious as Pepe’s stamp above upon first glance, Lescott’s elbow to Kaboul’s face also appears increasingly intentional the more angles you watch it from. Just why Lescott felt it necessary to raise his elbow to Kaboul is beyond me, since he’d already won the ball and the play was moving on.

Already on a yellow, the former Everton man was extremely luck to have not been sent off for the action. Yet his actions — just inches outside the City penalty area no less — somehow went unnoticed by Howard Webb.

Amazingly for Webb, a referee I normally rate as the best in England, he somehow missed another intentional assault on a Tottenham player just under ten minutes later. Could it be that Howard has traded in his United Red-tinted spectacles for a new pair with a City Blue hue? Unlikely. As a Spurs fan, it’s a conspiracy theory I’d be willing to hear, especially after watching this happen:

manchester city's mario balotelli stamping on tottenham's scott parker

I mean nobody — especially someone already on a yellow — while in the process of falling, will jam their heel backward away from the direction they’re moving. If anything, Balotelli’s momentum suggests that his right heel would foot would have moved away from Parker’s face. And just like Pepe’s stamp on Messi’s hand, you can see the controversial Italian adjust his stride so he could complete his heinous act. Adding insult to injury, a further ten minutes on from this incident and Balotelli was being taken down for and converting a match-winning penalty. Total bullshit, says this Spurs fan.

Apparently, Super Mario is incapable of learning from his past mistakes. For a man who’s been caught on camera trapped in a training bib, using an iPad on the substitute’s bench of an international match, and who was well aware that he’d draw massive amounts of attention for claiming “WHY ALWAYS ME?“, you’d think he would have developed a heightened awareness that the cameras were always trained on him. Nope.

Whether these ignorant, unprofessional and intentional acts to harm players are punished remains to be seen. But if nothing else, thanks to the onset of modern television technology, they’re not going unnoticed anymore. And if the court of public opinion has taught us anything before, it’s that it won’t be long until the authorities stand up and take notice, too.

By that time, if they players have any brains to them, they’ll have learned that big brother is watching, and they ought to be on their best behavior.

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