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A Step in the Right Direction: FIFA to Implement Video Technology to Judge Diving

Eduardo is awarded a Penalty by Referee Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (ESP) after this challenge with Celtic's Goalkeeper Artur Boruc Arsenal 2009/10 Arsenal V Celtic (3-1) 26/08/09 UEFA Champions League Play-Off Round 2nd Leg Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

The world football governing body seems to have removed the sleep from their eyes, poured themselves a fresh cup of coffee, and in a shocking turn of events, looks to be attempting some ‘governing’ as they’ve recently stated they’ll allow national associations the use of video footage when it comes to punishing diving and simulation.

In a statement released to the press recently, a FIFA spokesperson used clamorous phrases to describe their intent such as, “serious sanction”, “stamp out”, “deterrent”, and “right wrongs”, all pretty determined terminology being thrown around from the federation once deemed inept at making the big decisions needed for the betterment of the game.

In this somewhat welcoming turn of events, FIFA has changed their stance on the controversial topic from just a few years ago when the Scottish FA approached FIFA with a proposal to use video evidence for these such circumstances. Scotland’s proposal was then turned down on the basis that it was against the existing rules of football. Credit to FIFA though who’ve now allowed the Australian Federation to punish two players, Perth Glory striker Michael Baird and Central Coast midfielder Patricio Perez, and have subsequently banned them for two matches for simulation and gaining penalties.

These new developments in the use of video technology go against article 79 of the official FIFA disciplinary code which states that the disciplinary decisions taken by the ref on the field of play during a match are final. If you connect the dots, any such occurance or violation spotted by video replay after the ending of a match and then punished for would be against FIFA’s code. An interesting and progressive step forward by FIFA.

As it pertains to the Aussies, the Australian national association has cited UEFA’s stance on former Arsenal striker Eduardo in a Champions League qualifier against Celtic in 2009 as precedence for the infraction. Eduardo’s dive to win a penalty in real time was difficult to catch in the heat of the moment. Yet video replays blatantly proved Celtic keeper Artur Boruc avoided all contact with Eduardo who went to ground to deceive the referee.

In this instance of Arsenal v Celtic, the charge against Eduardo was based on Article 10 paragraph 1c of the UEFA disciplinary regulations which states that players can be suspended for purposely trying to deceive a match official in attempts to make said official make an incorrect decision.

In the Eduardo example and now in the case of the Australian club players, FIFA have made the right decision and an important step forward. Football fans will still want to see progress made in goal-line technology and other aspects of the game that will benefit its overall appearance across the world, but for now, FIFA have taken a step in the right direction.

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  3. Vious

    September 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Critics say that this will slow down the game but allowing the video people to see if something was a goal or not can take SECONDS thus during the celebration, they can check. If they can’t figure it out by then, it stands.

  4. b

    September 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    So what will we do when there is no absolute correct decision? Because in the picture you posted up there, I can argue that the keeper is touching Eduardo’s foot.

    And how is the video going to show intent? Was Eduardo attempting to deceive? Or attempting to avoid injury and going down too easily? Will you have mind readers hooked up to the video machines?

    And what happens when Rooney or Gerrard dive? Do you really think the FA has the stomach to allow them to be banned?

  5. RVPFan

    September 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Talk about making Eduardo a scapegoat. Poor fella came back from an injury that nearly ended his career. In fact, I would even say it did end his career, because when he came back, he no longer became the same player, a classy talented football player and became too conscious of tackles instead of focusing on the game. Perhaps he was too conscious about his broken leg and decided to dive instead of getting hit. Yet they keep overlooking tackles like that and decide instead to focus on dives. Yes, dives must be stopped, but more important is to protect players from leg breaking challenges that we see in EPL day in day out.

  6. IanCransonsKnees

    September 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Surely that cheating, diving, dirty, unsportsmanlike ba$&$£rd in the photo should be wearing a red and white striped shirt and not an Arsenal one?

  7. Sir Guy

    September 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Chris is correct that retrospective action would be meaningless in the example given and others like it. However, post match sanctioning is used well in other sports e.g., rugby and Aussie Rules. In most situations there is a price to be paid by both club and player. I think the fact that it exists changes mentality and actions in the long run for players and refs as well. If more dives are penalized post-match maybe, just maybe, refs will start to call them when they see them. They sure don’t now.

    @mintox……You have stated the guideline yourself: “…there is no doubt that the players went down when they could have stayed up BUT there is also a claim to say that there was contact.”

    The fact that there was contact does not make it a foul nor give any player the “right” to attempt to draw a penalty by hitting the ground. If the player went down when he could just as easily have stayed up then it is indeed a dive. You try to fool the ref at your peril.

    • Dave C

      September 7, 2010 at 10:11 am

      @ Sir Guy – “If the player went down when he could just as easily have stayed up then it is indeed a dive”.

      I disagree with this – there are many instances were a defender makes subtle illegal contact with an attacker which may slow him down, push him slightly off balance (but not enought to fall over) or otherwise obstruct him from getting the ball. Unfortunately, the referee hardly ever calls such a foul unless the attacker falls down. Hence there are many instances of what I consider “justified exaggeration”, whereby an attacker intentionally chooses to fall down to draw the ref’s attention to the fact that a minor foul has been committed.

      I think this grey area is very problematic for people trying to judge what is or is not a dive.

      • Paul

        September 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm

        Agreed here. when the ref can see that the attacking player is trying to stay up they will almost always play advantage even if the contact takes all advantage away from the attacking player. Generally once you begin to stumble it is best to just slide to the ground rather than try to regain your footing.

      • Paul

        September 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

        I also forgot to ask, how long do we expect people being tackled to keep their legs in? Certainly we can excuse the people who jump after contact rather than try to stay up when a defender slides in with enough force to break legs.

        • Sir Guy

          September 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

          I agree with both your points and highly doubt you would see any post match sanctions in those types of cases. They will be very careful with this (perhaps too careful) for two reasons:

          1. They don’t want to show up the refs.

          2. They will want to be “right”, so only egregious infractions will draw sanction.

          I think the plan is better than nothing. We shall see.

      • Sir Guy

        September 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

        I take your point, Dave. If the contact is illegal such as a trip, then a foul should of course be charged whether the player goes to ground or not. However, in my mind, there is far too much falling over from legal or no contact at all. I think the new policy will help remedy this. It will not be perfect, but it will be an improvement.

    • Jesse Chula

      September 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you mentioned this could change the mentality of players. If there’s an inkling of a possibilty that said player could be suspended for a few matches and miss an important game if they dive, they’re likely to stay up.

      Time will tell and I’m not saying this is a fix all, but it certainly remains, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

  8. mintox

    September 7, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I beg to differ, without providing proper guidelines I think FIFA have erred.

    In both cases with Baird and Perez, the replays are not conclusive that there was no contact. In both cases there is no doubt that the players went down when they could have stayed up BUT there is also a claim to say that there was contact.

    Is it up to the player to stay up or is it up to the other player to not bring them down?

    By not having any guidelines it’s allowed the FFA to use both situations to send a message when in reality both were less than clear cut places.

  9. Chris McQuade

    September 7, 2010 at 9:03 am

    As with everything FIFA does. Utterly pointless. Unless used ‘in-game’ which it won’t be this isn’t even a story. Video ‘technology’ ie watching an incident again has been used for violent conduct cases since the charge began.

    The debate over the Referee’s final decision will abide but quibble me this: If Eduardo had dived in a champions league final whilst rounding the keeper. Got the other team down to ten and his team the lead. What in the name of **** would retrospective action do? He would have won his team a prestigious trophy with the ‘dive’ a footnote.

    • Jesse Chula

      September 7, 2010 at 9:37 am


      That’s a very interesting point, yet it’s the exception to the rule.

      More specifically, think of the hundreds of instances of diving to try to win a pen or FK that go on throughout a season compared to an instance from your example. It’d be 200-1, 300-1, or maybe even 300-0, it’s not even worth comparing.

      FIFA have taken a small step into a larger world when it comes to the betterment of the game. Maybe their next step will be to use the video technology ‘in game’ as you’ve stated. Gotta start somewhere.

      Credit must be given where it’s due.

      • Chris McQuade

        September 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

        It’s a plaster on a gunshot wound as far as i’m concerned and it defeats the point. Which is more valuable, the next round of a cup, three points or a 2 game ban.

        As you’ve indicated it’s prevalant in the game too, hundreds of dives, hundreds of decisions yet some arbiter will determine what is and isn’t worthy of review. It’s pointless. Goals change games, seasons and in some sad colombian cases lives. These determinations need to be made at the time, on the field so that it can be a deterrent” and “right wrongs.

        Also what does this mean for the ‘same at the top as the bottom malarkey’ to put my points as inflammatory and therefore point defeatingly as possible. F**k FIFA.

        NB: Irishman: World Cup. Henry etc. etc. etc.

        • wharf

          September 7, 2010 at 10:40 am

          It might that the match ban will give a player pause before thinking about diving in-game, particularly if the outcome of the game is still uncertain.

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