Luis Suarez Penalty Incident Raises Diving Issue Again; Reviewing Premier League Referee Decisions

In the review of this past weekend’s refereeing decisions in the Premier League, there’s only one place to start and thats at Anfield where Luis Suarez was judged to be brought down by Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan. The score was 2-1 to the away side at the time, so this was no doubt a huge decision for referee Jon Moss to make.

Unfortunately, the referee was in a poor position for this call — not because of his fitness levels, but as a result of the pin-point cross field pass from Steven Gerrard. Moss is also unlucky as the incident is on the opposite side to the assistant, who would have been in a perfect position had it been on his side of the pitch.

From Moss’s angle, I can fully understand why he has given the penalty. With no help from the assistant referee, he has a decision to make and Guzan gives Moss that choice, when he didn’t need to commit to the challenge. I personally don’t think it was a penalty, but you have to understand the speed of the game and the distance the referee has had to make a very important call from, even though Suarez went down very easily. I feel Suarez used Guzan’s error to his advantage and was looking for contact, moving away from the direction of the ball and into the American keeper’s arms. I don’t think it’s a dive, but there is no doubting that Suarez looked for contact and went down when there was still a scoring opportunity.

Analyzing the incident on BBC’s Match Of The Day, pundit Alan Shearer and presenter Gary Lineker both thought it was a penalty. Shearer said:

”I think you’ve got to give the benefit of the doubt to Suarez there. I know he’s gone down too easy at times.

“If Guzan’s going to be silly enough to come rushing out like that on a wet pitch, sliding out. What is Suarez expected to do here?

‘Is he meant to jump over him and get out of the way and hurdle out of the way, so he doesn’t make contact with him?”

I know Shearer is a highly respected former player, but I have to question him. Condoning a player buying a penalty shows how much the game has moved on. TalkSport pundit Stan Collymore took the alternative view and thought that Suarez dived. Afterwards, he was involved in a heated Twitter conversation with Lineker, where Stan tweeted:

“And the fact some very well respected ex pros genuinely believe diving/cheating is justifiable says more about the game in 2014 than me.”

I see both points of view, but conclude that it wasn’t a dive, or a penalty. It was just “clever” play from Suarez, which is not good for the game.

Moving on to Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, there were two controversial decisions within the space of a minute, at the very end of the game. Firstly, United skipper Nemanja Vidic made a very late and reckless tackle on the again impressive Eden Hazard. I was as amazed as anyone when Phil Dowd produced the red card. I know I may be biased, but there is nothing in the challenge that is dangerous. It was a tackle in anger, but not a red card. There would have been no complaints from either team if a yellow card had been shown. Only seconds later, Rafael da Silva went in for an arguably worse tackle on Gary Cahill. The challenge was fast and with both sets of studs showing. It was a definite red card. However, Dowd cautioned the right back. I feel he may have been compensating for an earlier mistake, but ended up getting both decisions wrong.

Meanwhile, Wes Brown was again involved in a contentious decision, this time with Southampton’s record signing Gaston Ramirez. Brown did get the ball, but followed through to catch the Uruguayan on the ankle, causing him to be stretchered off. I think a yellow card would have been fair, as it was a genuine attempt for the ball and not with excessive force.

Manchester City front man Alvaro Negredo, was involved in a similar incident with Cardiff’s Aron Gunnarsson, but missed the ball and caught the Icelandic midfielder on the ankle, after the ball had gone. The tackle wasn’t pleasant and Negredo can count himself very lucky that referee Neil Swarbrick didn’t send him off. A poor tackle.

Finally this week, the first goal awarded by the Goal Decision System occurred. In the Cardiff-Manchester City match, the replay showed that the ball was comfortably in and proved the system works, although I’m not quite sure why the Cardiff players protested the goal, considering that there is a watch on the referee’s wrist that alerts him when a goal is scored.

Editor’s note: Read reviews of key referee decisions from previous Premier League weeks.

21 thoughts on “Luis Suarez Penalty Incident Raises Diving Issue Again; Reviewing Premier League Referee Decisions”

    1. So are you saying this is a good thing or a bad thing? I can live with diving as part of the game as long as refs call it more frequently. Then it becomes a calculated risk, just like much lauded “professional fouls”. However, in the current environment where the advantages all accrue to the diver, I’m in favor of retroactive punishment.

      1. No this constant diving talk is stupid. It gives “high moral” characters in the game a chance to constantly wave their moral flag about what’s wrong with the game.
        The type of tackles that are allowed in the PL should be talked about more. The blatant shirt pulling when there’s a set piece should also be scrutinized.

  1. Would we be talking about this if it wasn’t Suarez? When Chelsea’s Ramirez actually dived and got a penalty why was there no such outrage and commentary about diving.

    In the Suarez case, even instant replay might not have changed the penalty decision when post-match analysis with all the time to look at replays still didn’t produce a definitive answer.

    1. Great point that dive keep the loud mouth thugs unbeaten streak at the bridge intact and could help decide the title race.

      1. I think the media would have reacted the same had it been Ashley Young or Adnan Januzaj, but I agree that Oscar and Ramires have both got away with diving (from media) in recent weeks.

  2. This is one referring decision that seems perfectly acceptable to me. When so many people honestly disagree on the call even with the benefit of multiple slow motion angles, there is no way to fault the ref.

    I’m not a suarez fan (well, I am of his play but not of his behavior) but I agree this was not a dive and contact was made.

  3. The ball from Gerrard to Suarez killed the villa defence the keeper panicked rushed out got there too late played Suarez not the ball PENALTY if you can’t understand the rules of football stop writing about it please find something else to do you people are boring with character assasination

    1. I respect your opinion, but I find it hard to fathom why you are suggesting I don’t understand the game. Its my opinion and the game is as popular as it is because of them.

      1. The headline suggests Suarez dived to win a penalty if you had watched the whole move that created the incident you would understand the context of what i’m saying watching highlights then commenting on public enemy no1 cheap shots

  4. “Firstly, United skipper Nemanja Vidic made a very late and reckless tackle on the again impressive Eden Hazard. I was as amazed as anyone when Phil Dowd produced the red card. I know I may be biased, but there is nothing in the challenge that is dangerous. It was a tackle in anger, but not a red card.”

    This portion is riddled with contradiction. A “reckless” challenge that was made “in anger”, but wasn’t “dangerous”. The author seems to be saying that just because they guy intentionally and recklessly fouled the player because he was angry doesn’t necessarily mean it was dangerous.

    Ditto on the diving notes above. Suarez has actually been falling less. There have been several instances where Suarez was actually fouled, but he found his footing again and tried to continue on with the play.

    Diving is poor sportsmanship, but to keep bringing it up because Suarez is involved gets a bit tiring. That was probably the first penalty call for Suarez this year.

  5. It’s always good to hear the views of Gary Neville when he’s on Sky Sports 1. I was really looking forward to hearing his views on the Suarez incident because he could have gone either way. To his credit, he never ever lets his love for Manchester United cloud his opinion of anything when he’s on air…

    “Every single weekend it becomes a point of national debate when a striker goes down in the box. For me, the goalkeeper makes a really poor decision and 100 times out of 100, if a ‘keeper comes flying out at a forward like that then you will end up with a penalty.

    I don’t know what Guzan was playing at and I think that when he was sat at home yesterday he’d be reflecting that he’d do something completely different next time.

    A lot of people are offended by the potential that Luis Suarez has dived. If I was in an Aston Villa shirt, I’d be disappointed in my goalkeeper and if I was a Liverpool player I’d actually be disappointed if my player didn’t go down in that position when a goalkeeper comes flying out. That’s a professional point of view.

    We’re asking the question: is it a penalty or is it a dive? The answer is yes, it is a penalty because the knee of Guzan has gone into Suarez’s ankle.

    Does he dive? If you watch Suarez’s left leg he throws himself to the ground, wins the penalty and plays for it. I’d call it clever as a professional.

    People at home are offended by the fact that players can win penalties, but I’d call that terrible goalkeeping. Luis Suarez has done what I’d want a team-mate of mine to do in that position.

    People may not like hearing that, but that’s a fact.”

  6. I’m so over this. Every team has players that either dive or “look for contact”. When it is a guy with a checkered past we make pretend he is the only one doing it and poses a threat to the integrity of the game. Is it good? No. Do I wish it would stop? Of course. But it’s been going on forever and its not just done by guys we like to hate.

  7. Sorry but diving is a big issue, it is not the media or the fans making a big deal out of it. Diving is cheating. If we want to accept cheating as part of English Football, then maybe I should be watching WWE (tongue-in-cheek).

  8. If we want to get rid of it, let’s bring up every dive in every game not just Suarez.
    Wellbeck dived against Spurs to win a penalty in exactly the same way, no mention at all; Kevin Morales dived at least 3 times yesterday, nothing at all was said.

  9. Very well written article. I like the way you were able to explain why the referee had given a penalty, based on his position on the field at the time. It is something that fans/pundits usually forget or dismiss after they’ve been seeing 5 to 10 replays (from various angles) of the same play.

  10. A quick replay would solve so many of these problems. It hurt seeing him dive, and killed 3 points for my Villa. Hopefully they’ll make use of it in the next couple of years. It wouldn’t take too much time to review ONLY goals and penalties. The others the refs can deal with fairly easy. It’s the scoring chances that kill teams. UTV.

    1. Only problem with video technology is people still are unclear whether it was a pen or not, after several replays. decision would be based on opinion of tv ref. that may be perceived as “wrong” too.

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