Uefa, FIFA: Give Us Retroactive Punishment For Diving

Eduardo steamed into the box. He shot past two Celtic defenders. Boruc charged out from his goal and slid to the ground but quickly realized he couldn’t get to the ball. Boruc put on the brakes. His foot slid behind Eduardo and his arm bent back, clear of the striker. But Eduardo’s body jerked forward as if shot in the back by a sniper. His legs went out from under. He thrust his hands forward and flopped to the ground. The ref blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. The converted goal quickly transformed Celtic’s uphill slope into a Himalayan mountain range.

I was devastated.

Now, I’m not a Celtic supporter and I’m no Arsenal hater. But ever since this tie was announced, I’ve wanted to write an article speculating on what would happen with Arsenal getting knocked out of Europe before the transfer window closed. (Obnoxious title nominee: “Wenger Is Fabregasted”.)  But the own goal and the deflection after the free kick in the first leg made this look unlikely. Still: I held out hope for a miraculous Celtic comeback. That’s fodder for two articles.  Two goals were doable. Maybe. But Eduardo’s dive completely thwarted my plans.

Now Uefa plan to investigate the incident and may respond with a two-match ban.

We shrug and change the subject when it’s our own boy doing the dive. We accept whatever rewards come to our side from the cheating. When Gerrard goes down with no contact, I tell myself he’s too fast for his boots. Arsene Wenger’s response to Eduardo’s dive: “I do not go as far to say Eduardo dived. He went down, for what reason I do not know.” (Reasonable explanations: Polish goalkeepers are famous for being able to tackle players with their minds. That wacky prankster Bendtner tied Eduardo’s bootlaces together before the play. Tottenham fans snuck in during the night and released a pack of rabid gophers. Eduardo was doing an airplane impersonation to remind people to Fly Emirates.) But when we are honest we’d rather see our own player stay up and earn the goal. Diving is an ugly cancer and should be surgically removed from the beautiful game.

Retroactive punishment is the best answer. I don’t want to see in-match replays introduced. Ever. The fact that football matches keep moving is a bragging point over sports that have countless stoppages for replay and call review. Extra officials can help (already being tested in the Europa league), but they will still miss some angles and they will still be as fallible as the officials already calling matches. Retroactive review should be introduced on a regular basis. This is the best way to fight the problem without stopping play. Combined with extra officials, it can stifle the power of simulation.

It should go like this:

After a controversial call, a manager requests a review. A panel uses all the video evidence avaiable. There has to be no doubt after video review for the on-pitch call to be overturned. Then, if a player is adjudged to have dived, he misses two matches. Add a fine for extra discouragment. And any bookings on innocent parties are lifted. (Getting a card after your oppenent dived is adding pure insult to feigned injury.)

It is that simple and it would be highly effective as long as FIFA introduce it universally. Make it the standard for football so it becomes entrenched in the culture.

Players use diving as a tactic. We hate to see it, but as long as they get away with it, players will dive. They are competative beings. If going down in the box means a penalty or a deadly free kick – if it means any kind advantage – they will keep diving as long as football culture and football officials allow it. But if we introduce regular suspensions and fines, the value of the dive will drop off. Would a manager condone Cristiano Ronaldo diving and risk losing an influential game-changing player for two matches? Absolutely not.

I hope they ban Eduardo. I hope they set the example. The next step is enforcing this concept for all the leagues and use it consistently. Only then will the punishment have the legitimacy to convince players to fight the invisible pull of gravity in and around the box.

42 thoughts on “Uefa, FIFA: Give Us Retroactive Punishment For Diving”

  1. The diving in European football is just like steroids and whatnot in baseball. It gives tangible benefits on the field of play yet the players only receive a slap on the wrist, if anything, for committing these cardinal sins. I’d really like to see yellows handed out every time there is a dive, EVEN WHEN MY OWN TEAM DOES IT. If you want to talk about why football isn’t as popular in the States, a lot of Americans think footy is a joke because how easily the players go down. There is nothing dumber, at least to me, than watching a player take a dive, lay on the ground like the broke their god damned ankle, have the doctor come on, have him help the player to the side of the pitch, and then see the guy come back on as soon as play resumes looking completely fine. I’m a Liverpool fan, and Torres used to be one of my favorite players, but lately he spends most of his time taking dives and bitching at the ref and not really much time trying to put the ball in the back of the net. I’m sick of seeing games ruined by terrible penalty calls because the officials buy into the plethora of dives that are committed in every match. Something needs to be done, because at this point, there is no reason not to take a dive because the officials are more likely to give you a welfare goal (i.e. penalty kick that shouldn’t have been given) than give you a yellow for being a faker. I am ranting, but this makes me pissed.

  2. I hate diving in football, I have had episodes of blood spurting from my eyes when watching the all too familiar culprits go down easily to con penalties.
    That is why to my eternal shame last night when Eduardo won the penalty my initial reaction was glee, job done Celtic won’t come back now.
    There was not even a thought of the act that had got Arsenal to that point. The infamous double standard of a football fan at work. I felt guilty afterward but any fan who sees a dive by one of their own and is filled with instant revulsion is clearly a better man than me!
    Having said that I do think a ban is what is needed, if there is a deterrent there then players will not be liable to do it in the future.

    1. I can’t understand for any reason except for the anti-arsenal bias in the media that people want to hang Eduardo for this. Did he dive? Yes he did but it was for a penalty in a tie that Arsenal dominated and Celtic were never really in anyway.

      He didn’t feign an injury like alot of players i’ve seen or turn around and yell at the ref and make a meal out of it like Robinho or Gerrard always does, and this is really the first time I can recall Eduardo blatantly diving while Gerrard’s made a career out of it and nobody ever says anyhting about that. If they want to ban players retroactively for diving that’s fine, Eduardo gets a two game ban and but Gerrard gets banned for half the season.

  3. If UEFA refused to rescind suspensions issued for plays where no foul existed (Fletcher), and knock back just about any penalty appealed (Drogba), I highly doubt that they’ll make a stand and issue missed punishment when it’s merited.


    1. According to the BBC article (my first link above) Uefa gave Lithuania’s Saulius Mikoliunas a two-match ban in 2007 after he dived against Scotland.

      The precedent is set. It just needs to be implemented on a regular basis to be effective.

  4. Let me say first that I agree 100% with your concern, but you might be flogging a dead horse there–afraid the culture of gamesmenship might be to embedded to change–It’s not just diving–what about the guy who goes down in a hard tackle and behaves as if his leg may need to be amputated in order to draw a sympathetic booking from the official and is miraculously sprinting forward at top speed sometimes less than seconds after it appeared the stretcher might be needed–Another example would be when a player, after a tackle, stays on the ground in order to break up the other sides momentum by getting them to put the ball out once again effecting a miraculous recovery mere seconds after their opponents stop play in a gesture of sportsmanship–It seems this gets talked about every time there’s a controversial decision, yet players go merrily on looking for that perfect 10 from the judges–I think you have offered some good suggestions, and I hope that UEFA will do something more than just give lip service to the problem, but I’m afraid they won’t

  5. The rules are clear; simulating an injury to gain an advantage is a foul. I think it is distasteful and hurtful to the game that it has reached the level that it has. I would love to see FIFA support retroactive punishments. If players know that their dives are going to be scrutinized on tape post match and get them bans, it would put an end to it instantly. That said, I’m pessemistic that we’ll see any positive change in this area.

  6. I would love to see divers punished but how could we have a retroactive punishment for divers and not for bad tackles, geniune goals disallowed, ghost goals allowed, off-side goals allowed and the list goes on.
    The refree made an instant decision which after we mere mortal saw it in replay from zillion different angles realised it was a dive. He made the decision and it should be final. As our grand- fathers in FiFA HQ will say, “Refree’s decision is final”. Lets move on.
    I have seen Gerrad, Roney, Owen took a dive and it was spinned by English media as “Momentum carried fall”. How come this is being blowned out of proportion? Eduardo’s dive wasn’t the first time we have seen players dive and certainly will not be the last. So lets bring another topic like the racist abuse Carlton Cole received from thugs that parade themselves as football fan.

    1. I think that faking an injury or taking a dive is completely different from a bad offside call or a goal controversy. Faking an injury or taking a dive is an integrity thing. You’re essentially trying to cheat. A bad offside call is part of the game; It happens. For the goal controversy, I don’t know why they don’t have some sort of sensor that the official can look to on controversial calls. Surely we have the technology to put a couple microchips in a football or some sort of sensor on the goal line…

      1. I think this could be used for cheating and perhaps for viscious tackles that aren’t caught by the ref. The point is to cut out bad sportsmanship. I am not suggesting retroactive turnarounds on all incorrect in-match decisions.

  7. Never trust a Brazilian-Croat: dirty rain-forest clearing, Ustashi b’tards!

    Actually the venom here is all down to the fact he’s not a Brit. Everytime Michael Owen dived in the box, when he was in his pomp for England, he was hailed as a national hero.

    I remember against the Argies when Owen went down in the World Cup and he said: “it’s my job to get penalties”. No Mickey….it’s you’re job to get goals.

  8. i am an Arsenal fan and I have to admit I was disappointed in Eduardo last night. In a tie Arsenal were always going to win (sorry Celtic, if it hadnt happened you were still going out) there was simply no need for it. There is a reason Arsenal fans dont like Eboue and its not just he couldnt string a few passes together for 45 mins last year, its because he is a diver.
    Eduardo had so much goodwill on his side from all football fans after coming back from injury and in one dive has lost all that as he will be tainted now as a diver. He needs to never do it again. If someone did that against Arsenal I’d be screaming at the ref.
    I dont mind seeing him made an example of , so long as its done to everyone including the Rooney’s and Drogba’s of this world. Eduardo isnt the worst diver out there so shouldnt be given the token punishment which is then not given to others.

    1. Eboue has taken alot of dives. I happen to remember one in a Champions League final a couple years ago that led to the goal the Arsenal scored… You shouldnt have been happy then if you dont like diving. Diving will always be a part of the game no matter what happens. There is no player in the world that if given the opportunity to go down and win a pk or stumble and lose the ball would not do it. Players will always take dives and refs will make the calls if they think its a foul.

      What about when a ref gives a yellow when they think there is a dive and the player gets sent off? Will UEFA and FIFA replay the match? If they are going to use technology like this then they should just have refs watch the game from the tvs anyway. They would get the best view of everything then.

  9. In the BBC article, UEFA’s president’s suggestion makes no sense. Adding add’l referees on the end line will not fix this. The action happens so fast, it’s nearly impossible to tell unless you have a perfect angle in regards to simulation.

    When I saw the Eduardo play at full speed it did look like he was clipped. Then the replay may it painfully obvious it was a simulated dive.

    Retro-active punishment is the right way to fix this problem, NOT adding additional assistant referee’s behind the goal. If players realize they will get banned from future matches when they dive, the diving will stop. Admittedly, this is an easy problem to fix.

    1. The additional refs have been talked about before. Not just for calls on penalties but also to offer a different angle with offside calls and to help determine if the ball crossed the goal line. How often is the call wrong because the linesman wasn’t in the right place at the right time?

      I am not completely sold on the extra officials, but I am glad they are trying it out. If it makes a difference and helps the officials get more calls right without football adopting in-match video replay, I’d be for it. If it proves to make no difference, then I would be against it.

  10. Aww! Thats so sweet, a liverpool fan hating on arsenal, after the week you’ve had I don’t blame you poor baby, did eduardo break someones leg?? Or someones jaw gerrard? Grow up buddy, your boys will dive very soon and I’m waiting for your highly objective and unbiased (snigger) opinion then.

    1. Idiot. Did you actually read the post or just wade in with you head in your ass?

      I am a huge Liverpool fan and I agree with Ethan about the mixed reactions fans give to their own players who commit dives. He even articulates in his original post the way that Liverpool fans will try to explain away Stevie G’s dives. A dive is a dive and it’s a disgrace. Some players make careers out of such antics and other players do it in moments of desperation. None of that changes the discomfort a fan feels when Torres sprawls and pouts or Gerrard goes down easier than normal.

      If you are an Arsenal fan and you honestly think Eduardo isn’t a diver, then you’re a twit.

  11. The one problem w/ the retroactive punishment idea is that it does nothing for the victim–Celtic already had a steep hill to climb needing to score 2 just to get level, and the penalty all but sealed the Gunners victory–The game may, or may not, have gone a different way if the play is called correctly–We’ll never know–What we do know is that retro punishment for Eduardo won’t replace what Celtic lost yesterday in revenue by missing out on CL paycheck

    1. Well there are two ways to remedy this: The first is obvious and that is getting some refs with a backbone who are willing to give out yellows for diving. RIght now, the refs just look the other way when every single time a player goes down they act like their leg is going to fall off. The second is making the retroactive punishment very harsh. After all, if a two game ban is all you get from a dive in a game like yesterday, the cost/benefit of the act is actually not too bad. You get to rest for two games and you assured your club a victory. Now if you were suspended for 20 matches for diving, it changes everything.

      Cheaters and those who try to cheat should be punished with more than a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, I think everyone is in agreement that UEFA/FIFA don’t have the stones to do anything about it.

      1. Ford,

        It won’t change the outcome of a match that’s already been played. The officials cannot take away a goal after the fact. But if implemented consistently and honestly, retroactive punishment would deter players from future dives. It won’t be a perfect system. But I truly believe it would drastically cut down on the problem.

  12. this is BS. how can they retroactively look at diving but not referee decisions or goals that were wrongly allowed/disallowed. set up a consistant standard for all grievances to be looked at. don’t just pick out this one by eduardo and forget all the others from ronaldo or messi or porto.

  13. I agree with Ethan Armstrong about using retroactive punishments. Diving is part of a whole culture in the sport (articulated well by Ford Prefect) of simulation to gain advantage. I’ve always found the saddest sign of that to be the fact that a long running example of good sportsmanship in the game, kicking the ball out of play when an opponent is injured, is becoming increasingly abused as a means to reset one’s defensive formation.

    Why do players do this? Competitive advantage. I don’t think we need anything else to explain it. Diving works. Rolling around on the ground works. I don’t really say anyway to fix this culture in the sport short of removing that competitive advantage (look how far exhortations to get players to respect the refs have gone). One cannot easily fix the advantage within the game itself. I was certain it was a penalty watching the match yesterday. Even on the first couple of replays I wasn’t convinced that Boruc didn’t clip his heels with his other arm (commentators looked at his right for a trip). It was not until seeing multiple angles at slow speed did it become clear that Eduardo dove.

    While improving the accuracy of calls during matches is important, I think there is only so far we can go in that regard to fix the diving problem. After all, officials currently have the power to punish players for diving, but that is a very difficult determination to make on the fly. Momentum, the angle of one’s feet, etc. all play a role in whether a player falls. Retroactive punishments only help a little bit, since the original advantage still stands, but it targets players directly for their behavior. Introducing this punishment might make teams more likely to clamp down on diving (I doubt most condone it, but there is still room to ignore it).

    I do think that the Eduardo case has been yet another incident where a player has been lambasted more for his actions than an English counterpart, and that this is truly unfortunate. This is not a new phenomena. Still, despite the particular circumstances surrounding this dive, each case should be a reminder that retroactive analysis is worthwhile.

  14. Not to say that diving is fine or doesn’t exist but how do you know it was a dive? Not a gut reaction from a player who missed more than a year after a horrible injury from reckless tackle? It is easy to judge sitting in front of TV sipping beer. We are all backseat drivers here…

  15. Andrei,

    When you watch the replay you can see Boruc didn’t touch him.

    I would like to add, I don’t mean to single Eduardo out, but as the even was recent and is sparking the possibility of retroactive punishment, it was the obvious example to use for a topic about which I feel strongly.

  16. Ethan,

    I don’t disagree that there was no contact. But that is all that you can definitively say. How do you know what was the player motivation? That is why I think any retrospective review will be as subjective and prone to misuse.

    1. He threw his arms out and tumbled to the ground. Yes it can be subjective. But since falling in the box is already misused and something needs to be done this the best response.

      There’s plenty of times when the player stumbles and the ref waves play on. My concern is cutting down on dives in the sport. That’s why I said video review must prove it beyond all doubt to overturn a decision. Anyway, it is not any less subjective than live decisions and if anything there’s a chance for a more considered response because the officials can watch the replay multiple times.

      Obviously this can raise a lot more questions, but I believe there is a way to implement this in the right way to benefit the sport without adding stoppages.

      1. Ethan,

        As aspiration I agree with where you want be. I doubt that it is possible to implement it in such a way that does more good than harm. In all honesty do you trust FIFA/UEFA bureaucrats to get it right? I can easily imagine that if something like this gets implemented we will see players from the lesser teams getting a lion’s share of punishment. And star players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Kaka, Gerrard getting a slack to improve the ratings. Do you see UEFA overturn a decision that may send say Timisoara to the play-off stage instead of Real Madrid?

        To me as much as I don’t like it dives are part of the game. As much as other dirty tricks that players use – including those that defenders use against strikers. You can try to do something really drastic to eliminate or contain it but you may not like the result…

  17. As an Arsenal fan I was disappointed to realize that Eduardo did dive. I love him as a player, great footballer, and mental strength to come back from such a horrific injury. In the limited amount of games I have seen Eduardo play for Arsenal he has never once shown a willingness to go down easily like he did vs Celtic. But all this talk about him deserving a ban is pathetic. Where are all the pundits clamoring for match bans when Ronaldo, Drogba, Rooney, Gerrard or whoever else dives? They laugh it off and move on. Celtic were going to lose no matter what, the difference in class was quite huge (no disrespect to Celtic meant, they worked hard in both matches) and to me, this is just the English media grasping at straws. As a very good blogger (Goodplaya) wrote in his match analysis said, Wenger should have just said in his press conference “Eduardo isn’t that type of player.” Kinda what the media always claim when an English player does something stupid. Ala Martin Taylor perhaps?

  18. It’s FIFA and UEFAs fault for not standing up to it, and it ruins the game, along with penalties that are there but not given, wrong offside decisions, real goals that are disallowed, deliberate handballs, etc, etc. I’d say the reason some players do occasionally dive is because they are very skillful and so they get hacked constantly – players like Ronaldo, Torres, Messi, Eduardo – the dive partly an attempt to jump over tackles before they get their leg broken. Then they get rewarded so it continues. Doesn’t make it right in any way though. There are other players that do use it as a cynical way to win which is worse.

  19. Eduardo didn’t invent diving I think a post like this should separate one incident from the entire issue. It’s the latest rage (this dive) but if you want your commentary to be taken seriously and not fade when the Edu story fades then the post should of been made at a different time. It’s a serious issue and has been for years but if you tie it to a single event like so many have in the last 24 hours all it does is villify Eduardo for one incident and not take into account diving history going back decades with lasting effect.

    To me Edu is nothing but a target and beyond some comments from panelist during EPL shows this weekend all that will come out of this type of reporting is Eduardo being labelled unjustifably one of the worst offenders in diving while this issue of diving prevention dies again in the UK press until a british team feels the sting again due to foreigner. God forbid a Stevie G dive ever bring this much coverage.

    For me a cast of characters from the press should be compiled of who has villified Eduardo this week and see where they are when Rooney or Gerrard take their next prat fall. Their is a double standard in the british press and even though diving is bad racial or ethnic inequality in mass media is a much more serious case.

  20. The Australian A-League has instituted the retro-ban this year. It will be interesting to see its effect. So far as I know no one has received the ban yet, but apparently that is because the divers have cleaned up their act. Imagine that.

  21. As much as my heart wants Eduardo to be banned, it wouldn’t be fair to the player unless the rules for diving are changed. Currently, if the player was caught by the referee he would have simply gotten a yellow card so why would it be fair to ban him for a match or two because the ref missed the call. As disgraceful as it was, it’s not the same as Dida faking injury a couple years ago, ironically, by a Celtic fan. As the others have said, blatant cheating puts the integrity of the sport in question but the lack of consistency coupled with retroactive punitive punishment is just as dangerous. Uefa and Fifa has to create a consistent set of fines or suspension structure to be given at the start of the season to clubs, mangers, and players on what exactly is unacceptable: (embellishment when there is actual contact or a player getting out of the way to avoid injury to himself or a keeper assumingly would be exempt) and what punishments would be taken if caught.

  22. Im croatian and arsenal supporter, I say it looks to be somewhat of a dive, but he did not protest which I found rather confusing with the quick referee decision.

    The main thing I am confused is at, why has DIVING come to a head in a qualifiying game which Celtic was never going to win, and why Eduardo.
    The main diver in the world of football is most definatley C.RONALDO yet lastyear when he won a staggering number of freekicks when he was never touched, or in the air before the player had even mad contact. C.Ronaldo is so gifted yet he is he one of the worst cheaters to play the game, a man with a physique like his has no reason to dive.

    I believe this is somewhat unjust and a media beat-up, Is it because C.Ronaldo was the best player in the world so he couldnt possibly dive?

  23. The only problem I will have with this entire thing is that if someone dives in another game in the future (a dive that has somewhat of an impact on the game in any way), and ISN’T charged by UEFA/FIFA, I will be severely disappointed and pretty angry. I don’t remember Ronaldo ever getting charged for any of his countless dives for Utd? It’s good to start now, but if the governing bodies don’t keep doing it, then this is just a waste of time, and extremely aggravating.

  24. LOL i can’t believe i’m reading this and at same time look at commercial with picture of the greatest diver on the planet smiling at me:)))

  25. What about this: Player who is fouled must not take a penalty. Do you know who dive? It’s the players who take penalties like C. Ronaldo, Eduardo, Gerrard, etc.

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