What’s the Solution To Kick Out Diving From the Premier League?

To simulate or not to simulate, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to stay on one’s feet or hit the ground and try to gain an advantage (sorry, Billy).

Yesterday’s incident with Fernando Torres once again throws one of soccer’s worst aspects up for inspection. Diving/simulation, call it what you will, is ruining our sport. Each flop, each hand to the face in agony, is an indictment. As a former coach and ref, as well as a fan, I am appalled at what I see happening. We are allowing this practice to continue to thrive and hold our game up to ridicule. Witness last year’s ESPN Sports Center promo.

It isn’t going to go away until the refs or the FA stand up and say, “Enough!” Of course, therein lays the rub. Exactly what do we do about it? How can we, if not eradicate simulation, at least deter it to the point where it no longer seems to be the poster child for the game?

The NBA, where flopping has become its own little epidemic, will implement a warning/fining/suspension policy this year using post-match video (pending a grievance filed by the players’ association). Both the A-League and MLS have policies in place that look to deter simulation through post-match review. One can debate the effectiveness of these policies, but at least they are in place and the leagues are attempting to do something about the problem.

On the other hand, the Premier League has nothing. They seem paralyzed by their stance that the refs can not be “weakened” by the use of post-match video review. If, the ref says he saw it, but felt there was nothing worthy of a card, then that’s the end of it no matter what the offense might have been. The refs themselves seem to be in a no win situation when it comes to enforcement of the law. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t….so most don’t and the problem gets worse.

So where do we go from here? Do we just wring our hands and say nothing can be done? Would post-match review help in the long run, even if it can not correct the infraction/advantage at the time? Should the FA direct the refs to start pulling more yellows like Mark Clattenburg? Or do we simply embrace simulation as part of the game and start scoring dives?

Let me have your thoughts and ideas, keeping in mind the words of Samuel Johnson:  “Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”

35 thoughts on “What’s the Solution To Kick Out Diving From the Premier League?”

  1. In the past, I’ve spoken out against diving to my friends and called it a blemish on the sport. But as I’ve watched more games this year, I’ve found myself changing my tune.

    I no longer have a problem with diving. I now view it as a tactical element of the game. I believe diving helps to make better defenders by encouraging smart play. A hard or reckless challenge can result in a penalty. The risk for a forward is that he could go down and loose possession of the ball for nothing.

    Also, I think the dive can be used in a way to help prevent a more serious injury to a player. If you know you are getting ready to have a hard collision and dive to avoid potential injure, is that wrong or a smart play to keep yourself safe?

    Sure, most people do it to try to take advantage of the system, but the system already has a penalty in place to deal with this. I would encourage more referees to not feel gun shy about pulling out a yellow if they feel the dive is bad enough. Maybe even say something like “in an attempt to create an a goal scoring opportunity when there was not one.”

    I would prefer to not see review during the game, but I would be fine with lifting yellows for diving after in a way similar to how red cards are challenged.

    Overall, I think we fans allow people to make diving more of an issue than it is. Every sport is always going to have people who are trying to play the system and I think most people who want to focus on diving in soccer either just don’t want to like it or have not taken the time to observe the other excellent aspects of the game.

  2. Their should be a review after the match and if it is found that a player has dived then for the next match no freekick or penalty should be given even if the player(diver) is fouled. This will really help a lot. Managers will start speaking to the players about not diving and moreover fear that in the next match he will be punished physically..

  3. Their should be a review after the match and if it is found that a player has dived then for the next match no freekick or penalty should be given even if the player(diver) is fouled. This will really help a lot. Managers will start speaking to the players about not diving and moreover the player would fear that in the next match he will be punished physically..

    1. The problem then becomes which dives are card worthy and which are to be ignored. All dives are not created equal. Did Neville deserve a card? No, a good laugh by the presenters, players and coaches took care of that.

  4. Retrospective discipline is probably the only choice. And skip the fines, these players make so much that it’s a drop in the bucket, a donation to charity, getting hit with a fine.

    If you truly want them to stop, suspend them. Longer for repeat offenses.

    Forget the nonsense about undermining the referees. It’s bigger than that, ‘simulation’ itself is doing more damage to undermine the game. Referees will still do their best to make correct calls in-game and probably feel better with less pressure on them as an individual to properly distinguish a foul from theatrics.

    1. Exactly. Full match review with the help of multiple cameras is the only way. Include match bans AND hefty fines that increase for repeat offenders.

      That may also help exterminate this adaptive culture we’ve bred as well. So many times I’ve seen commentators side with the diver as long as the defender made some contact.

      ex: (penalty kick) “It’s soft for me but the defender can’t be diving in like that!” Really? I don’t care about whether he COULD have denied a scoring opportunity. Question is DID he or did a grown man hit the turf because he felt a brush on his ankle?

      1. You should proably familarize your self with the rules of the game. Rule 12 states:
        “A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

        • trips or attempts to trip an opponent…”

        You don’t need contact – even attempt to trip can be considered a foul and direct free kick is rewared. It is a judgement call by the referee if he or she considers it “careless, reckless or using excessive force”. All this talk about “did a grown man hit the turf because he felt a brush on his ankle” is just uneducated statement and has nothing to do with the rules of the game.

        In order to deal with diving effectively you have to start with adjusting the rules first. The current rules regarding fouls are too reliant on referee judgement and there is too much incentive for players to “influence” that judgement. In addition, there is nothing in the rules that addresses diving explicitly therfore it is subject for speculation by pundits and fans.

        1. Andre… the rules do explicitly say, “…a player must be cautioned for unsportsmanlike behaviour if a player attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)”

          Of course, it is a judgment call, but the law is explicit nonetheless. Even an “attempt to trip” is a judgment call.

          1. This is exactly my point. Is this very generic statement a good guide to apply in a subtle situations like “going down too easily on slight contact”? I don’t think so. In my opionion the rules are broken – they have to evolve to reflect realities on of the modern football. The game is played at such a pace that officials are struggling with even basic technical calls and on the top of that they are asked to make sound judgement calls at increased rate. This “recent” explosion of diving is here for a reason. Not a small part of it is that footballers are fully aware of the challenges referees are facing and they are out there to exploit it.

            Introducing another layer of judgement calls on the top of existing judgement calls is hardly a good solution. Rules of the game need to change to become less ambiguious and majority of judgement calls should be moved to the post game reviews.

          2. “Rules of the game need to change to become less ambiguious…”

            Not disagreeing with you, but give us some explicit examples…word for word.

  5. Why stop at diving let’s get it all out of football: diving, simulation, holding hands up for throw-ins/corners when you perfectly know it’s for the other team, waving for cards, etc…

    1. The constant waving for offside makes me nuts. I don’t think a match goes by where you don’t see someone waving when he should still be after the ball.

      As for the waving for cards….I’d give him one alright. 😉

  6. I like this system where the refs are giving yellows for guys who dive or give extreme reactions for minor contact.

    Make these guys fight to stay on their feet and continue the play. It’s absurd for these healthy, 20-something, superior athletes to be writhing in pain, having the trainer come on and then see them sprinting up and down the field 3 minutes later.

    Just give cards and as the sending offs and the suspensions for accumulation build up….you’ll see them stop overnight.

    1. Spot on.

      Watch the Craig Gardener tackle on Andy Wilkinson this weekend then explain to me why Suarez, Torres, Young, Bale et al cannot react like that. My guess is they lack the morals not to cheat and get their fellow professionals sent off, despite them being blessed with sufficient skill to avoid this.

      They deserve all the abuse they get.

      1. that is music to my ears.what if Distin would have done to suarez what suarez did to Distin it would have been totally different.suarez would have gone bat shit crazy.

    2. I don’t think we want to risk the outcomes of games because of lots of yellow cards for diving. It’d seem best to hand out the punishment after the game, where replays can be accurately reviewed, instead of a ref potentially throwing a game by making a bad call.

  7. Instruct the refs to give more yellow cards for diving. Instruct the assistant referees and fourth official to contact the head referee if they think a player dived.

    What will really go a long way to stopping this is media shaming of a player. The media has a role to play in ‘policing’ the sport. Use that negative attention to shame players and it would help reduce the practice.

  8. As a person who played at a “relatively” high level I have a really hard time with the current diving issue. Commentators, and to some extent, refs seem to have two outcomes, he dived or it’s a foul. But those are not the only outcomes, if you trip over your own feet or fall, it’s not a foul and it’s not a dive. If you go down after a fair tackle, it’s not a dive.

    Is it a dive if you fall when avoiding a hard challenge ? Is it a dive when you fall dramatically after a genuine but minor foul ?

    It’s a really tricky subject. I think I would prefer free kicks be given for diving, but not yellow cards.

    Even video evidence is tough, I’ve seen people claim “real” dives when I can see why they fell based on the video.

    tough area.

  9. Did Torres actually dive? I think he may have added drama to the fall, but I thought there was actual contact, while the Chelsea red card for tripping was actually no real contact against Valencia.

    I find it interesting that Torres gets blamed for diving, when Valencia did the same thing.

  10. Asking the referees to actively card divers brings on too many additional problems–it’s the law of unintended consequences, as Clattenburg exhibited. His match spun out of control because he lost the respect of the players–happens to many referees. If the referees just wave play on, the issue resolves itself. Contact in the box does not mean there must be a PK.

  11. The problem with the “diving” issue is that sometimes a player falls to avoid injury. Yet, I have seen referees give a yellow card to such a player. One way to determine if a player has gone down easily to influence a referee to call a foul is to examine the player’s reaction immediately afterward. If he gestures for a foul then give him a yellow card. Otherwise, play on.

  12. It’s so simple. Players want to play. Implement retrospective reviews of all fouls, suspend any diver. A yellow card is not enough.

  13. No real solution, in my opinion. In the end, it’s all down to the morals of the individual players and if they refuse to change that, no one else can really do anything to completely eliminate the issue.

  14. 1) Review all dives post-match. For any actual dives, the player is suspended without pay for one game for a first offense, two games for a second offense, three games for a third offense, etc. For any play where a card was given, but should not have been given (i.e., it was not a dive), the card should be rescinded.
    2) Fix the offsides rule. Once the ball is in the box, there should be no offsides. Hence, Chicarito’s goal yesterday and Arteta’s on Saturday would be considered fair goals, not goals that should have been flagged for offsides.

  15. Well, we settled all that, didn’t we? 😉

    Thanks for your commentary. My personal preference would be to card them until it stops and believe me it would. I don’t see how making an error on one side of the call is any better or worse than the other, but that’s just me.

    I would like to see some post-match review, but given the FA’s stance on that I don’t expect to ever see it. Technology is the devil, you know.

  16. it’d be nice to see refs give penalties to players who get fouled in the box but do NOT go down. think that might make a point that you don’t have to dive upon contact to rightfully win a penalty

  17. I think if anyone is going to make the suggestion that players should be retro-actively punished for diving, they also need to suggest that referees be retro-actively punished for letting games get out of control to the point that players feel they need to take a dive in order to let the referee know what is going on in the match. Even at the level of kids sports, this is becoming a problem as referees allow kids to make dirty tackles and do other things that cause the clean playing kids to become frustrated and look for ways to address the situation in the game. Either they fight back and get a card themselves for defending themselves against the reckless behavior of someone else, or they take a dive and hope that the referee recognizes that the game has gotten out of control. Equal responsibility lies with the referees as their primary reason for being on the field is to protect the players. When players feel as if they are not being looked out for by officials, they might feel the need to take matters into their own hands and I don’t think they should take the blame completely when their frustration boils over as a result of negligence on the part of the official.

  18. A good solution for players who dive and act like they’re hurting is to move them off the field immediately and have them sit out the next 5 minutes. Then they can re-enter through normal means – such as when their team has the ball out of bounds.

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