Is there anything worse in soccer than spitting? There is not. Cheat, head-butt me and mock me for the color of my skin – but don’t propel your saliva in my direction.
That’s the conclusion of a new poll of UK players by Four Four Two magazine, which found that more than half of those questioned believe that being spat at is more offensive than racism, homophobia, diving or being punched.
It’s timely given that great expectorations are atop the Premier League’s news agenda after Newcastle’s Papiss Cissé and Manchester United’s Jonny Evans appeared to spit at each other during a game on Wednesday, risking a six-game ban after the FA reviews video evidence since the incident was missed by the referee.
Newcastle boss John Carver told reporters he was aware of the allegations and would look at the footage. “I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans, because he is a very modest person, that he could do that. I cannot imagine,” United manager Louis van Gaal told reporters.
On Thursday, Evans issued a statement denying wrongdoing, while Cisse apologized and said he reacted to “something I found very unpleasant”, without ever mentioning the “s” word.
“I think Jonny is spitting on the floor. I know Jonny, he’s not that type of person,’ former United midfielder Paul Scholes said on BT Sport. “If he wants to do that then it’s not hard to miss, is it? He’s only stood a yard away from him. What Cisse does afterwards is unforgivable.”
Of course Evans wouldn’t spit! He’s British! Spitting is one of those dubious habits imported by foreigners into the English game, like diving, feigning injury, asking for opponents to be carded and possessing technical ability. You’d never catch a stout English braveheart – like Wayne Rooney, say – doing something so vile.