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ANDY DUNN: Football stars must be role models, not roll-around models

Date Posted,April 29, 2017

As the first – and surely to be the only – footballer punished for ­playing an online transgender guessing game, Robert Huth knows a thing or two about ­football’s disciplinary system.

Huth’s amusing trolling of Alexis Sanchez , posting a picture of a grazed finger and reassuring fans he was OK, was a whimsical sign-off to an ­episode that was as laughable as it was deplorable.

But Huth might wonder how he once got done for being a bit of a prat on Twitter while punishing Sanchez for feigning injury was not really an option open to the Football Association.

Those responsible for the ­letter of the FA law would argue it would be legally pointless in pursuing action against Sanchez.

He was hit by a ball.

We all know he made a ridiculous, ­embarrassing melodrama out of it, but falling theatrically to the deck is not an offence.

It SHOULD be an offence against the sensibilities and principles of his club manager, though, but would Arsene Wenger dream of taking him to task? In public or in private?

Not a chance.

Will Pep Guardiola have a word with Sergio Aguero for exaggerating the effects of Marouane Fellaini’s headbutt ?

Aguero could be accused of making the most of the contact Fellaini’s butt made (Photo: AMA/Getty Images)

Of course, not.

While Huth can have a humorous pop at Sanchez, you can bet he has never given his team-mate Jamie Vardy any stick for his habit of taking tumbles in the penalty area whenever a decent chance presents itself.

Claudio Ranieri never did, and it is certain Craig Shakespeare won’t the next time Vardy trips himself up.

There is a case for the FA to ­examine its stance on retrospective action for feigning injury or diving.

Players such as Vardy don’t get stick from within their own club for simulation (Photo: Getty)

Or to even get a stance, in fact.

When the sport of rugby union – with its eye-gouging, biting, punching, stamping – can again plant its flag on the high moral ground and not be scornfully dismissed, football should know it has an issue.

Ben Kay, a rugby World Cup ­winner with England, posted a picture of Worcester’s Nick ­Schonert showing a horrific cut to his cheek.

Alongside the grisly image, Kay juxtaposed the Sanchez selfie featuring the nick on his slightly swollen lip. “Which 1 rolled around the floor holding their face?” asked Kay.

Rugby can’t be complacent. With increasing professionalism has come a chipping away at the game’s prized sportsmanship.

That, as Matt Dawson — another 2003 World Cup winner — explained in the Mirror a few days ago, is why World Rugby has ruled “any player who dives or feigns injury in an effort to influence match officials will be liable for sanction”.

If this malaise of con-artistry and ­cheating continues at a virulent rate, you would hope football authorities here would consider something similar.

Don’t bank on it.

Boss Wenger checks if Sanchez is okay after Wednesday’s incident (he was) (Photo: Getty)

But there is one way to tackle it and that is for clubs to show moral fortitude and bring their own players into line.

For Wenger to tell Sanchez he ­embarrassed the club and himself.

For managers to tell their players diving is not acceptable.

It would be a start… but, again, don’t bank on it.

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