Diving - A battle that has already been lost?

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Diving - A battle that has already been lost? Empty Diving - A battle that has already been lost?

Post by owen10ozzy on Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:23 am

Hiya fellow posters.

Just did an article for my new blog on the contentious issue of diving which has once again reared its head. I have copied the article from my blog onto here; hopefully create some talking points and discussion: It is a lengthy piece & I was going to refer you to my blog, however I know some people don't like to see that being done on this forum.

Diving – A battle that has already been lost?

In a week full of controversial headlines, from ill-judged tweets to ill-advised sponsorship deals, football finds itself at the forefront of yet another hotly contested debate...the topic of interest this time around, ‘diving’.
Following a number of high profile incidents the air waves of talk shows, the back pages of our national papers and social media forms such as Twitter have been filled with contentious debates, outcries from fans & frustration from those involved in football. Diving has once again reared its ugly head.

It has long been an issue within the game yet whilst it hasn’t just appeared overnight there is a general acceptance that it has become far worse over the past 10 years or so. Of course football wouldn’t be the same without controversy. It is part and parcel of the Monday morning discussions at work and the fierce debates down the local when discussing the week’s football events.

However a point has been reached where it is no longer merely a minor talking point within a conversation, it has become ‘THE’ conversation. Instead of discussing incredible goals from the weekends action or fantastic pieces of skill, fans & pundits are left discussing a problem which is overshadowing everything else within the game...the question is; has diving become so integrated within the modern day game that it is something which just has to be accepted?

Only this morning papers were filled with news that Michael Owen had admitted to dived during his career. The moments in question were two matches against Argentina (1998 & 2002 World Cup). In actual fact the Stoke City forward had said nothing of the sort...rather he had admitted that he could have stayed on his feet during the two incidents which saw him win penalties for his country. In both cases a foul had occurred...contact had been made with the player in question and none of the ball had been won...regardless of whether he stayed on his feet or went down he had been ‘fouled’.

Here in lies a fundamental problem with this issue. Diving has become too much of a subjective matter with far too many grey areas. Just when is a ‘dive’ a ‘dive’.

Diving is defined by FIFA as ‘’an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by diving to the ground and possibly feigning an injury, to appear as if a foul has been committed’’

The key word here is ‘appear’. Whilst there are certainly many grey areas when deciding whether a player has dived or not, the simple fact of the matter is either a foul has or has not been made. If no foul was made then it is a dive.

Of course there are times where contact is minimal and a player can be accused of making a meal of it. However given the nature of modern day football this is widely accepted. The fact is that players can no longer make the kind of tough tackles that were once a famous part of the English game, gone are the days of Roy Keane & Patrick Viera...never mind the likes of Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, Vinnie Jones & the majority of the infamous Don Revie led Leeds United team.

In those days players could get away with a lot more physical play which has now been rendered obsolete in today’s game. The definition of a ‘foul’ has changed and with it so does what we should define as a dive.
When looking at these incidents we need to accept that when contact is made players will, if it serves them best, go to ground. If, however, no contact is made at all and the player goes to ground looking for a foul then punishments need to be enforced, whether that is on the spot or retrospectively.

This is the area which an emphasis needs to be placed. Far too often players are looking for fouls which simply are not there. I could at this point write down a list of such cases...but a simple search of YouTube or most fans memories would allow one to recognise what I am talking about. It is these cases which I think need stamping out of the game...if heavy punishments are handed out for such actions then I am of the belief that not only will there be a significant reduction in ‘diving’ but also a general increase in the amount of tackling which occurs. After all tackling in itself is a skill which we should not lose from the game.
So just how do we stop diving in its most basic form?

Well the easiest way would be for players & managers to realise they have a duty to the game and the rules with which they are bound. David Moyes has often spoken of his disdain for simulation, saying ‘"I've said to my players that I don't want them diving. Of course people will go down but I don't like it.’’ Whilst on the face of it we would hope that all players are honest, the stakes are just too high these days, with the financial rewards which litter the game blurring the morals of those who partake in it.

It’s my belief that in order to at least go some way eradicating diving, severe punishments need to be handed out to those who choose to dive, especially repeat offenders. Yellow cards during a match are all well and good as it does stop the person in question from doing the same again during those 90 minutes. Yet once the whistle is blown and a new game has started what is stopping them from repeating their actions?

The sensible option would be to use retrospective video evidence which would involve a select panel deciding upon cases of ‘diving’. It is an option which has been endorsed by many within the game including the likes of Arsene Wenger, Pulis & Moyes...yet FIFA is less keen believing that such measures would call into question the integrity/ability of referees. Since the vast majority of fans, players & managers understand how difficult their job is at the best of times I feel that it is a wafer thin argument by FIFA against such ideas.

It has been enforced in other leagues around the globe, most notably in the MLS, and with success. So is there any real reason why the same method cannot be applied here? After all since the Premier League is at the forefront of club football, should we not do our best to ensure that it is being portrayed in the correct light.

The simple fact is that whilst the game of football changes it does not mean the rules have too. There will always be those who try to bend the rules as much as possible but allowing them to do so see’s a line being crossed which is very difficult to come back from. Actions need to be implemented and quickly...not only because of a need to abide by rules and act morally but also to ensure the safety of those who choose to play the game fairly.

In recent times we have seen a number of players suffer legitimate injuries and health scares on the pitch...if players continue to be allowed to blur the lines between a real foul which can cause injury & a simulated injury which is used to gain a ‘foul’ then there will come a point where a players health/wellbeing is put at risk because those in charge lose sight of just when someone is play acting or not.

Football is an exciting sport and whilst some controversy may indeed add to the intrigue and conversation we must realise that it is not a requirement to enjoy the sport. Regardless of the application of measures to decrease cases such as diving, goal line decisions etc the fact is that they will at times still occur but with less frequency. Thus allowing fans to focus on what really matters and that is the ‘beautiful’ game itself and not the dark arts & controversy which have engulfed it.


If you have enjoyed what you have read and would like to read more of my work then just follow the address to my blog below:

aviewfrommyarmchair.wordpress.com



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Post by Liam on Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:37 am

Good article Owen Smile

Its a real debate isn't it. I thought Owen's comments were taken out of context by many. There was contact and he went down, nowt wrong with that imo. If he had said 'I went down without any contact' it would be a different story.

We often hear 'There was minimal contact, very soft' and I agree on times if there's little contact and a pen is given it leaves a sour tatse in the mouth of all football fans.

A dive for me is when there is no contact at all and the player goes down, whether theatrically or not. No pen.

Trouble is with these minimal touches on players, the speed at which some move, a little touch is all that is needed to bring them down. Not defending him here, but Bale is a good example. He's one of the fastest players in the world and a nick on him would be enough to cause him to lose his balance. Yet at full speed when you see it, it looks like he's thrown himself down, yet perhaps a slo mo cam may show there was a slight touch.

I believe players don't help themselves when they fall theatrically or unaturally, throwing the head back even though physics says that your head should be falling forward.

For me, its hard to eradicate from the game because football has become so subjective that there can surely never be just 1 main rule on diving.

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Post by Kay Fabe on Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:45 am

I don't feel its a battle that's already been lost however I feel it's a battle that can't be won over-night, when players, particularly those who come from afar have been taught how to dive from an early age then it becomes almost impossible to expect them to change something that has become so natural to them, however it's definitely something we can continue to highlight, I also feel retrospectively banning players will also help stop banning, in Scotland last year there was a number of players retrospectively banned for diving and as a result I don't think one player has been pulled up for it.

Now, we then have to appeal to a World Wide audiance, we have to make it be known that it's unacceptable for young players to be taught this and its unacceptable to encourage it from an early age too

At the end of the day though we need players to have professional pride, right up until the late 90s it was seen as a sign of weakness to go down and stay down, you didn't want to let the opposition think they could hurt you let alone stop you so you'd see far more honesty, the whole landscape has changed in the last 10 years, football today for me will never be as good as it was back then but that's not to say we should give up hope.

I believe the game can be cleaned up but it has to start somewhere and where's better to do it than in the UK, we should lead the way, fans want it, that's one of the best attributes we have on this subject, the fans actually want to stamp it out

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Post by lorus59 on Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:17 am

Bale is by far one of the worst offenders. What makes his dives all the more ludicrous is the fact that he is so fast and he assumes he is going to be fouled and dives well in advance. The one last week against Villa and last year against Arsenal were prime examples. He got a penalty too for the latter.

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Post by dummy_half on Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:48 am

Good article Owen

The issue is rather wider than just diving / going down easily / emphasising the foul, and is simply that modern top level footballers are cheats - almost all of them do everything they can to manipulate the officials for the benefit of their team, while at the same time bending the rules as far as they can get away with (things like holding while marking).

The players, managers, media and some fans think the game and the result is so important that there is no requirement to play to the letter or spirit of the laws, but just to win at all costs. If this means making the ref look a fool then so be it, as long as it works and they don't get caught.

Another point though is the difference between playing for the foul, actively looking for contact and blatantly diving:
Cristiano Ronaldo for one is outstanding at playing for a (genuine) foul from his marker - he squares up the defender, with the ball between them, then because of his quick feet nicks the ball to the side as the challenge comes in, and goes over the defender's leg. It absolutely is a foul and a free kick, although it probably isn't in the spirit of the game. Of course CR hasn't been averse to the odd dive or other cheat over the years either.

The second one, of actively looking for contact, is something a lot of centre forwards do (Defoe is one of the culprits) - running at defenders and drawing lunging or semi-lunging tackles, and then making sure that they as the attacker either just bend their run or slide the trailing leg across so that there is contact with the defender. Probably isn't a foul to the letter of the law, but very difficult for referees to distinguish this from the type of drawn foul described above.

Obviously, a dive is just that - falling spectacularly to the ground with essentially no contact from the defender.

If the FA are serious about improving the game, they have to start suspending and fining players for diving and for other antics designed to con the ref (going down clutching your face when there is a bit of contact to the chest...). Points deductions for teams that repeat offend could be the ultimate deterent.

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Post by Atila on Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:59 am

dummy_half wrote:Points deductions for teams that repeat offend could be the ultimate deterent.
This could be the best way to solve the problem. For example, if Suarez is repeatedly diving, then his manager has to put a stop to it. I can't believe that if a manager tells his players not to dive, that the player still goes out and dives. I think the managers can put a stop to this and if they don't, then a points deduction might work.

One more thing, I don't blame the foreign players for all this current uproar about diving.

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Post by dummy_half on Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:42 pm

Atila wrote:

One more thing, I don't blame the foreign players for all this current uproar about diving.

Yep, it's something that is pervasive through the EPL, and there are certainly aseveral England internationals (Rooney, Gerrard, Young being the first three to come to mind) that are as bad as any of the foreigners.

Actually, I remember when Klimnsmann first moved to Tottenham, and after his first goal celebrated by diving to the ground. Broke the ice brilliantly with almost all fans in England. Turned out as well that he wasn't really much of a diver while he played over here (always thought Rudy Voller was a far worse culprit and was generally just a nasty piece of work)

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Post by lorus59 on Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:43 pm

Klimnsmann had such reputation for diving before he played in England, he just knew he would never get anything for diving here so he didn't do it.

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Post by Sam_Bradford_8 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:24 am

As in any sport the players are going to look for an advantage. They will bend the rules to see how far they can go with the refs, whether we like it or not. Winning a penalty could mean the difference between 3 points, 1 point or nil points, which in the end could be the difference between qualifying for the champions league, europa league etc.

We all know Suarez has dived, its obvious, but hes personally being made a scapegoat, hes not the first, nor the last, nor the worst. In doing so though he has made himself an easy target, and even when it is a penalty he may not get it, which in turn hurts the team. Players need to be smart, dont dive when theres no contact, when there is take the contact and go down. Stop looking for penalties and play the game.

At the same time, i feel fouls that are given outside the box are rarely given inside the box, just because it would equate to a penalty. Little tugs on shirts, running into people, pulling over, trips etc. The refs need to be consistant, if its a foul outside its a foul inside, even if theres 5 per game.

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