What I'm going to say won't be a popular view, and I will probably be flamed for it. But it needs to be said.
A fellow poster wrote a few days ago that there is more to football than kicking a ball. He is so right. I am proud to be a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. I am proud that our history - and our mantra - is about glory. I am proud of the 'Tottenham way'. I am proud of our integrity. Let me share a couple of examples.
In the 1959-60 season we were challenging for the league and needed to win a game (possibly against Man City) to maintain our challenge. On the stroke of half time we were awarded a penalty. Cliff Jones took it and the 'keeper saved it, only for Jones to put in the rebound. The goal didn't stand. The half had expired, but the ref rightly allowed it to continue for the penalty to be taken; but with the 'keeper's save, the half was over. The players argued, but when the ref explained his decision to (Sir) Bill Nicholson he accepted it and told his team to do the same. We didn't win the game and - as you all know - we didn't win the league. As a club, we accepted what was right, even though it hurt us.
Early in Alan Sugar's reign as Chairman, he discovered that players had been paid in a way that broke league rules. He reported it to the authorities. We were punished and - although the draconian level of the punishment was successfully appealed - we accepted our wrongdoing. We acted with honour. We did the right thing.
This season, we inadvertently played an ineligible player in the NextGen tournament. He made a brief second-half appearance in a game that we won comfortably, and he didn't affect the outcome. When this was drawn to the club's attention, the team was immediately withdrawn from the competition. We had broken the rules, so we did the right thing. Contrast this to the behaviour of our opponents in the next round. Liverpool knew of our breach before we played them, but waited until we had knocked them out of the tournament before reporting it in order for them to be reinstated.
The moral of these stories is that it is important to do the right thing. Winning by cheating is a phyrric victory, and a trophy won by breaking the rules is a trophy not worth having.
This is why I am ashamed - yes, ashamed - of the behaviour of Gareth Bale. His diving has frequently been debated on this forum, and I have been saddened to see that he has many apologists. Many have proposed the argument that he doesn't dive, he merely takes evasive action in order to avoid destructive challenges by ruthless defenders, and thereby prolong his career. Bale himself has recently used this lame excuse to justify his behaviour. (Perhaps he got the idea from reading it on SC.) I don't accept this, and many proponents of this argument would dismiss it if it were made by, for example, an Arsenal or Chelsea player. They would call what they see: he is a diver and a cheat.
Today against Everton we had the most obvious example of this to date. In midfield, in the face of an extremely mild 'challenge' from an opponent, Bale launched himself into the air. He wasn't propelled by the challenge: he hadn't been touched. He wasn't avoiding a potentially career-threatening tackle, as the Everton player hadn't tried to tackle him. He simply decided to perform a theatrical dive. He cheated. Again.
This has to stop.
Behaving in this way causes Bale to embarrass himself, his teammates, and everybody at the club - including its supporters. I happen to believe that it will mean that he (and the rest of the team) will be awarded fewer free kicks by officials who will think they are being conned, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is that he is harming the reputation of our great club. A reputation for fair play, for doing things the right way. An honourable reputation that has been built over 130 years.
I have admired Bale's play since he became a regular member of the team. I have cheered his great skill, the way he races past defenders and puts in perfect crosses. I have rejoiced in his great goals. But, in spite of all of this, if he won't stop cheating, I want him to be sold. Yes, sold. No player is bigger than the club, and if he continues to behave in a way that erodes the noble tradition of Tottenham Hotspur, then I want him to be playing as far away from the Lane as we can get him. (If the club then said that his refusal to stop diving was the reason for his transfer, then that would be perfect.) If we were to win a trophy because of his antics, then that trophy would be tainted. We wouldn't really have won it.
I would miss his great skill, his wonderful goals. But his departure would be a price worth paying.