KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The extravagant fall by Italy's
Fabio Grosso over the body of Lucas Neill which gave Italy the
last-minute penalty it needed to beat Australia on Monday was once again
proof that playacting players can and do prosper at this World
Cup.

It came a day after the shameful antics of the Portuguese and
Dutch players in their second-round game in Nuremberg, in which 16
players received yellow cards and four red cards.

The second half of that game descended into farce as almost
every player tackled writhed around in agony in the hope of getting the
other player booked or sent off.

Any time a team gained momentum an opposition player would go
down injured. By the time the player had "recovered" the momentum had
gone.

So, what to do about the cheats?

Once again, as always happens during a big tournament, the
relative merits and demerits of video technology are trotted out. The
general idea to deter the cheats is to have another referee pitch-side
who can immediately decide whether someone is conning the on-pitch
official.

The hope is that the presence of this technology would be
deterrent enough, as the actual use of video replays during the match
would have a terrible effect in slowing down the flow of the
game.

Three teams spring to mind -- there may be more but none
immediately leap out -- who have risen above the disgraceful feigning of
injury.

England, the U.S. and Australia all seem to play the game in
the spirit of fairness, although both the U.S. and Australia are not
slow in dishing out the rough stuff.

Indeed, in both teams' games against Italy they seemed to
decide that because the Italians have a tendency to overdo the theatrics
when tackled, they would give them a reason to roll around by crunching
into tackles.

Talking with the U.S. fans after their game against Italy and
the Aussie fans on Monday as they made their way back to Kaiserslautern
Station after their heartbreaking loss, it became apparent that this
behavior -- and the Italians have been far from the worst offenders --
is utterly alien to them, many of whom have been brought up on sports
besides soccer.

The opinions rarely differed and are the same ones that have
been heard over the years: sports such as Australian Rules football, ice
hockey and American football are all rough games, but you see little or
none of the skulduggery found in the World Cup and in soccer,
generally.

The sports mentioned above are obviously not above the
criticism soccer receives and there are other ways players get an
advantage over their opponents in these sports.

But it is the desire to not show weakness or simulate injury
that seems to have rubbed off on the U.S. and Australia soccer
teams.

The same can be said for the English team, and although this
is still generally the case there have been rare occasions in the past
when they have prospered from playacting.

It would be nice, too, to say the "samurai spirit" of Japan
meant the Boys in Blue rose above the tomfoolery on show in Germany, but
in their match against Australia many of the Japan players were as
guilty as Italy's Grosso in Kaiserslautern on Monday and those
responsible for the shameful scenes seen in the Portugal-Netherlands
game on Sunday.