Definition of Dark Arts



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What is the meaning of Dark Arts when it comes to the game of football?

Dark art, generally speaking, is a form of black magic. It is performed to cause harm, take control, manipulate or gain an advantage over another person or situation. In the game of football the dark art can be a tactical foul that stops the attacking flow of the other team. It could be time-wasting for the purpose of running the clock and protecting the lead, or it could be contact simulation that leads to a free kick, penalty or a booking. It could also be something as simple as stealing meters of space during throw-ins. Dark arts are basically the dirty little tricks outside of the football rule book used by players to try and win the match, while avoiding detection from the officials in the same time.


Diego Costa is the master of the Dark Arts in the game of football.


Some players in today's game are very skilled at the dark arts and pushing the boundaries of fair play. The first name that comes to mind is the Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. The Spanish international often initiates heated exchanges, goes down easily during contact and reacts with anger to any communication. Costa is the master of getting under the skin of opposing players, pushing his luck, but never crossing the line. During his time at Chelsea FC, Costa was booked 31 times, but only received a red card once. The same can not be said for Costa's adversaries, many of whom have paid the price of engaging him by having to leave the game early.

Another player that comes to mind when it comes to dark arts, of course, is Real Madrid legendary defender Sergio Ramos. His masterstroke surely was taking Liverpool's most dangerous player, Mohamed Salah, out of the game in the UEFA Champions League final in 2018.

Luckily, for the sport and it's fans, the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) will most definitely cut down on the dark arts element of the game and help expose the offending players.