There is No Moral High Ground in the Fight Against Theatrical Diving In Soccer

After reading some online reviews of the new FIFA 13 game, there were some comments on the articles that struck really struck me. Whilst the majority of them were overwhelmingly positive, there were some voicing their disappointment that the creators had yet to include one particular feature. The option to ‘take a dive’ is one thing that punters would love to see as part of a football simulation game…apparently!

This, coupled with the past weekends events, really got me thinking about simulation. It has often been accepted that ‘simulation’ or ‘diving’ is rife in a vast majority of the European leagues, but is it now part of the fabric of the Premier League too?

In the wake of the recent controversies, it would be difficult to argue against such a sentiment, with Sunday’s events merely proving to be resounding reinforcement. A league that once prided itself on the honesty and integrity of its stars is now tainted with a host of players who look to con the officials and gain an unfair advantage. That, as exasperating as it may be, is an undeniable truth and unfortunately it doesn’t seem the issue is going away any time soon.

Foreign imports have often been blamed for this influx in players going down easily. Sir Alex Ferguson most recently claimed it was the fault of European and South American players, a point which I would wholeheartedly disagree with. British players are just as common perpetrators as overseas players, with the majority of Premier League footballers being caught up in the most recent diving scandals are British natives. Some involving Gareth Bale, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck immediately spring to mind.

Nonetheless, whether the culprits are British or not, it is a part of the game that infuriates the majority associated with the sport. Stoke manager Tony Pulis has been calling for Luis Suarez to be banned following the part he played in the weekend’s debacle, such is his anger over it. Supporters have vented their frustration on phone-ins and online in order to try and defend their respective players, convinced that players at their own club would never partake in such petulant behaviours.

The truth is however, that simulation is so rife within the modern English game, that it happens at EVERY club. As lovers of the game, regardless of our allegiances, it is time to accept this. Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale have been castigated for their antics, but they are not alone. Being in a privileged position to have a season ticket for a Premier League team, I cannot remember the last time I came away from the ground without seeing a player from my own side or the opposition having attempted to simulate. It happens in every side, under the rule of every manager in the country.

Managers like Pulis who bemoan simulation should quite frankly take a look at their own players before tarring others. On the final day of last season I recall Peter Crouch taking a tumble to win a penalty, one which ultimately resulted in the relegation of Bolton Wanderers. How do you imagine Bolton fans felt (and probably still do feel) about that!?

Before anything can be done to try and eradicate diving, it is time for supporters and managers alike to stop taking the perceived moral high ground in a desperate attempt at petty point scoring against their rivals.

I fear that the issue is beyond fixing however. Its now a massive part of the game and a major overhaul would be required in order to make any significant changes to the attitude of those players who indulge in an occasional tumble. It would be implausible for the FA to implicate a structure by which sanctions are administered to those found guilty of simulation. Simulation is still punishable as a yellow card offence across the game. This could not be changed without the backing of other European leagues and more importantly FIFA, whom none of which are so fervently against diving as those who associated with the English game.

An independent panel set up to retrospectively punish those caught in the act is an attractive idea, but one that might be difficult to implicate and unfeasible. Even now there are disagreements over the isolated incidents from the weekend, and to label a player as a cheat based on this is a pretty strong accusation to make. One which could in turn lead to further controversies.

What do you think can be done to stop players diving? Is it beyond reprieve? Have you ever felt ashamed of a player from your club who has dived in a match?

Follow me on Twitter: @13mattj13

14 thoughts on “There is No Moral High Ground in the Fight Against Theatrical Diving In Soccer”

  1. It is interesting to me the amount of times the Suarez incident is used as an example, but the Bale incident is not (this article not included). I have seen a good 10 to 15 articles about Suarez, but maybe one or two that mention Bale. Particularly, the articles about diving in general seem to mention Suarez and may or may not mention Bale. In my opinion, of the two dives, the Bale one was much worse given the fact that no contact was even close, whereas in the Suarez dive, at least contact had been made, though surely not enough to send him to the ground like that. So my two questions are: Is it easier to castigate Suarez rather than Bale for diving in light of last year’s racism row (because it is difficult for anyone to come to the defense of someone who has been accused a racist)? Or is it because foul or not he routinely embellishes contact that is made (a la Drogba), and we don’t like that?

    Also, in a parallel universe, if Suarez had stamped on the chest of Huth, and Huth later in the game took a dive in the box (off a corner or something), would we be talking about the dive? Or would we be talking about the stamp?

    1. True, some players apparently get more attention than others, this has probably to do with player fame. I think you could also be right that the racism row may have seriously affected people’s perception of him, thus the heavier criticism towards his diving.

    2. Fully agree, but the problem is that the FA is an absolute disgrace for English football.
      Terry 4 games, others 12 – and they claim to punish “racism” ?? This is so ridiculous. Huth wasn’t punished for stamping cos same day they would have needed to punish RvP – an intentional elbow off the ball. Retrospective justice ?? My a** … I don’t like Cashley, but he’s right, the FA is a bunch of twats.

  2. You have a very good point Nathan especially about Huth and Suarez switching roles. However we could argue about the way the press treats players differently (Bale and Suarez) forever, but we need to put our biases aside, I’ve been a Liverpool fan for over 35 years but Suarez pissed me off this weekend and so has Brendan Rodgers by sticking by him. I know Fergie does this all the time with his players too, which is why a manager can’t complain about diving until he publicly tells his players to cut it out. I’m sick to death of divers, I love football but the players are taking the joy out of the game I’m afraid, both on and off the field. I thought that after UEFA banned Eduardo for his dive against Celtic that we were on the way to solving it but nothing happened.

  3. Simple solution, if the same player ‘simulates’ twice in a match give him two yellow cards and send him off. If he ‘simulates’ once and commits a tackle worthy of a yellow card, dissent, lifts his shirt to celebrate send him off.

    Stick to the rules and enforce them to the letter of the law for all teams. It’s one way of tackling it.

    1. As a former ref, I agree completely. I always found a couple of judiciously waved yellows for unsportsmanlike conduct worked wonders in a match.

      I still don’t understand why refs put up with the circling/bullying after calls. A yellow or two would end it. Just take a look at what they did in the Euros.

      As for diving, a yellow for the first thing that even looked like a dive in each and every match would put an end to it. Refs just need some cojones.

      1. That’s all fine and dandy but the problem is that sometimes refs get the call wrong, and they should have given the penalty. A yellow card then adds to the insult. This happened to Suarez earlier this season. If you want to punish diving it should happen based on video evidence either during or after the match.

  4. I think the solution for this is for the FA to indicate that with the pace of the game and overly theatric play that retroactive penalties will be applied to all players if video evidence is conclusive that the player dived.

    Most occasions where we think diving is occurring would probably still stand as a foul (if contact is made you can argue one way or another). But situations like this:

    or the eduardo penalty… jenkinsons dive against chelsea… And I’m an Arsenal fan, when I saw jenkinson’s dive I thought how can Ashley Cole complain about that, but then the replay clearly showed that jenkinson played the let me just shoot out my foot here. These incidents should be punished with game bans and financial penalties to at least disincentive diving.

    1. amen V. just like the NBA is implementing this season. the game’s too fast for it to be called during play, otherwise there’d be 50 yellows a match for sniper shots that only become visible in slow-mo on our couches. penalties should be retroactive fines and game bans based on post game reviews.

      diving blows.

  5. only people who complain endlessly about diving are english pundits and managers trying to excuse their team’s poor play.

  6. As much as I would love to see punishment given for diving I think it would take a very brave ref to send the likes of Welbeck or Ashley Young at Old Trafford. They would probably find themselves refereeing league 1 for several weeks afterwards. On the Suarez situation I find it strange that before the racism row he was a tricky player that invites a foul (much like Ronaldo) now he is a diver and public enemy number one.

    1. You are mistaken. Suarez dived a bunch prior to the “race row”. It is very frustrating to see him dive. He seemed to slow it down a bit earlier this season, but he flops way too much. Of course, as the article states, many many dive and there is typically never any punishment for it.

  7. Great photoshop! I listened to Rodney Marsh recently on Talk Sport admit to diving when he played for QPR and Man City in the 60/70’s. He said it was easy to fool refs by running into the box and tripping yourself up by kicking the heel of your leading boot. He said he originally started it because he was sick of getting no protection from the refs as the graunchers of the day like Billy Bremner/Norman Hunter/Dave Mackay kicked him off the park. He went on to say it takes one to know one and people like Suarez are diving but are pretty useless at it.

  8. The players eventually must realize that they’re the ones suffering from having a bad rep. Look at CR7 when he was at United: he flopped and moaned so many times and Fergie urged him to man up: that’s how things work, deal and adapt. Look at Suarez: now, almost no refs believe him.
    One of the reasons I became disilussioned watching Italian football in late 90s was there were too many theatrics and the refs were too easy blowing their whistles.

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