Celtic offer meek capitulation to inconsistent SFA, should back players

By Euan Davidson

March 24, 2021

It’s not hard, on any given day, to react to Celtic or SFA updates with a “what’s going on there?”.

Leaving aside the Dermot Desmond “interview” for now (“So Desmond, are you a Celtic supporter?” “Absolutely, Desmond”), there was one piece of news from the club that was bizarre. The club won’t be fighting the SFA on Odsonne Edouard’s “dive” during the Glasgow Derby.

This is despite doing exactly that for Albian Ajeti, when the governing body offered more trumped up “simulation” charges. It’s bizarre at best, and absolutely negligent at worst.

Now, yes, you might suggest I’m overreacting – that wouldn’t be beyond me – but I can’t help but feel this is inconsistent and damaging. For one thing, as cliché as it is, I don’t believe Edouard is that type of player. If we actually look at the incident, it was probably easier for him to score, if he was indeed unimpeded [SPFL/YouTube].

The idea that he’d purposefully throw himself on to the ground to win a penalty, rather than scoring – which was probably easier to do – is utterly daft. Why would Eddy want to take a spot kick instead? If you asked any striker whether they’d rather score from open play than a high-pressure penalty kick against an on-form keeper in a massive game… well, answers on a postcard.

The club is surely cognisant of this. The fact John Kennedy already defended the striker would have surely set Celtic up to appeal the yellow. For an institution as big on PR, morals and playing “The Celtic Way”, they’ve left Edouard flapping in the wind here. It leaves a bad taste.

Celtic striker Albian Ajeti against Kilmarnock / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Ajeti Incident: why Celtic should be battling SFA to defend Edouard

We don’t deal with “simulation” incidents and SFA disciplinary matters that often, really. If  you want to get into the virtues of diving, as if it’s an entirely new phenomenon, then go ahead and do that elsewhere. “The game’s gone soft! Back in my day,” etc.

But comparing this to the Ajeti incident, Edouard’s “dive” had more obvious contact than the Ajeti one. His “simulation” against Kilmarnock was punished, then not punished, retroactively. There’s pretty obvious contact, whereas the Ajeti one needs a couple of looks, albeit justice prevailed in the end.

So, why aren’t Celtic defending him? It’s genuinely a mystery. Especially when so many people were watching worldwide who would’ve been as baffled by Willie Collum’s decision making. I don’t want to pile on the refs, because I don’t actually think it’s necessarily helpful, but Collum got this plainly wrong.

Does Edouard make the most of the contact? Oh, undoubtedly, but it’s a moot point when there is, in fact, contact. Like it or loathe it, strikers will fall when enough contact is made. That isn’t against the rules; simulation is when there isn’t contact and it’s “sold” as if there was. That’s not the argument here.

It’s not like it’ll change anything materially if Celtic did appeal this, but it leaves a bit of a stain on our star striker’s reputation. Edouard absolutely does not deserve a reputation as a diver, but that’ll inevitably be the case.

Referees are only human, and they’ll eye our star man with an air of suspicion whenever he’s in possession a few yards out from goal. These things make a difference long-term.

So, this act of inaction by Celtic against the SFA is a disappointing act of blurred thinking. The board oscillates from being furiously reactionary or entirely negligent. In a season where they’ve garnered so much bad will, the simple act of saying “er, naw” would’ve been a crumb of comfort.

READ MORE: Talking of Edouard, have we found a successor?