There was yet another diving incident over the weekend when Daniel Sturridge won a penalty against Man Utd after he went to ground without being touched. It’s not the first time it’s happened this year, and definitely won’t be the last. Diving is one of the things I hate about football. It’s basically cheating, pretending you were fouled when you weren’t to win a freekick or penalty. It’s gaining an unfair advantage over your opponents. I just don’t get it – when I play sport I want to win, yes, but I want to know I won fairly. It wouldn’t feel like a win to me if it was only because I cheated.

I’d say there are two types of diving – one is blatant play acting, when a player pretends he has been hit, kicked, tripped etc and is just trying to win a penalty or get a player sent off when there is no foul at all. That is the worst kind. Sergio Busquets comes to mind.

The other is when a player is touched, maybe tripped but could stay on his feet if he wanted to, but decided to go to ground anyway to make it more obvious so to get the foul. In a way you can’t always blame the players for this kind of dive as referees often won’t give a foul if the player stays on his feet. A couple of years ago, in a local amateur league, I was fouled in the penalty area. This knocked me onto my knees but I jumped straight back up and tried to score. I was tackled on the second attempt but wasn’t awarded a penalty, even though the foul stopped me getting a shot away. After the game I asked the ref why he didn’t give it, and his answer was: ‘you didn’t go down’! So if referees are telling players they must go down to get the foul, then of course they will do when they feel a touch.

That brings me to two simple ways, in my opinion, that diving can be cut out:

  1. Referees need to give fouls when the player stays on his feet.
    That way players won’t feel they need to go down. I do understand that this is sometimes hard because if it doesn’t really affect the player then the ref won’t think it is a foul, but they should be a bit more aware of this. Fouls like mine described above should be easy to give, though. Refs SHOULD NOT be telling a player they didn’t get a penalty because they didn’t go down!
  2. Retrospective action for dives!
    This one is so easy to do, I really cannot understand why it isn’t being done now. They do it for violent conduct, why not for diving and play acting? Ban them for a few games and they probably won’t do it again. A well known example is the play acting by Rivaldo at the 2002 World Cup. He went down clutching his face after the Turkish defender Hakan Unsal kicked the ball towards him, although it only hit him on the leg. He was given a £1000 fine but really that’s nothing, feigning an injury like that should get a suspension if players are going to stop doing it.

These things are easy to do, why aren’t they being done?!

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Ball Banter

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