Football

In defence of the "divers"

Ashley Young is booked for a dive against Crystal Palace (©GettyImages)
Ashley Young is booked for a dive against Crystal Palace (©GettyImages).

“Ashley Young is taking diving in English football to new levels,” said talkSPORT in the United Kingdom.

“Dive Hard 2: Dive Harder” is a quip that the Metro in the United Kingdom uses in its football section.

Over the last two seasons Ashley Young has developed a well-known reputation for “diving” and even Graham Poll has called for the FA to ban the Manchester United winger – and he’s right… sort of. Let me explain:

Diving (or “simulation,” the correct term according to the FA and FIFA) has been part of the game for years now. I remember when it first started to become prevalent – we all associated it with the increasing numbers foreign exports to the Premier League, and we didn’t like it. Not one bit.

Now it is part of almost every game, in every league, at every level of football in the world. Simulation poses a problem for referees that they’ve never had to deal with before – what to do about diving?

There are more ramifications to diving than just winning a free kick or more for your team, and the problem is determining which is fair play and which is foul. There are guidelines set for referees to determine if a player has “simulated” within a game:

- A separation in time between the impact and the “simulation”

- A lack of ballistic continuity (i.e. the player moves farther than expected because of the resulting tackle. See Sergio Busquets in… any game)

- A lack of contact consistency (i.e. a player gets elbowed in the chest, but goes down holding his head.)

The problem with these guidelines is that all three of them can be fair play, too. Take our first situation, Eden Hazard beats Ryan Shawcross, Shawcross in the process knocks him off balance in the penalty area. Hazard tries to stay on his feet but cannot.

In this fictional example, we have a separation of time between impact and “simulation.” This is still a penalty, but given these guidelines, what is the referee to do? This season in similar situations it seems a yellow card and a free kick the opposite way is the most likely outcome. We have seen penalty kicks not given a number of times because the attacking player stayed on his feet, rather than going to ground “easily.”

A lack of ballistic continuity is probably one of the worst guidelines for enforcing any rule, in any form. Is the referee supposed to know about trajectory, angles, and speed at point of contact first with the player then the ground? Then take into account that the pitch may have
been watered before hand, if there was rainfall how much rainfall? What is the weight
of the infringed player, and the weight of the offender? It is absolutely absurd.

That is the most difficult thing for a referee to do, discerning a dive from someone who genuinely lost his or her balance.

Diving is so ingrained into the game right now that referees often, rather than dole out yellow card left, right and centre, will motion for a player to “get up.”

In England the punishment for diving is a yellow card and a free kick to the opposing team. In Major League Soccer it is a far worse punishment. MLS has a governing body that is allowed to review plays after a game has finished and look at TV evidence to retrospectively ban and fine players. I’m sure a lot of people would like to see a system like this implemented in the Premier League.

However, diving is not the same thing as simulation. Not even close.

The problem in soccer is FIFA is right as far as diving is concerned - it is a cancer. But simulation is not. This is why I find media/FIFA criticisms of players like Luis Suarez, Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, and Gareth Bale a little strange, and frankly a little boring too.

Simulation is an essential part of the game. Soccer has become faster, and faster, and faster to the point where there was enough pressure put on governing bodies that in the English Premier League we now have goal-line technology. There is even a movement to get instant replay involved to make sure officials get decisions right. Every time.

FIFA say simulation endangers other players whom are actually hurt but I disagree, if a guy is rolling around on the ground clutching his knee waving his arms around he isn’t that badly
hurt. There’s the old adage “you know he’s hurt, because he’s not moving.” People inherently know when another person is “hurt” or “injured.” You don’t embellish an injury, you’re too
concerned with the pain you’re feeling to do that.

Going down “easily” and diving are too completely different things. Clearly, diving to gain an advantage is wrong. Simulating or “embellishing” contact however, I’m not so sure.

Simulating, for me, is fine. Everybody does it – Michael Owen, England’s former poster boy, has admitted to doing it vs Argentina in the World Cup in 1998. I remember being extremely okay with it on that occasion, I’m sure other English people would feel the same. 

How many times have you seen a striker being pushed and pulled as he goes through on goal, it’s a penalty, we can all see that … except the player stays on his feet, skews the shot wide and then protests. 

The pace of the new game dictates that sometimes referees need to be shown that an infringement has occurred. I would be willing to bet that Lionel Messi goes down “a little
bit easily” on occasion – the man being so skilful that to a referee it could look like he tripped over his own feet.

Being honorable in that situation makes you look like you’re just looking for a decision to cover up your poor shot. Sometimes you just need to hit the deck and get the decision.  

If you have a problem with this then you have a problem with the evolution of the game. It is not the 60s or 70s anymore.

Soccer is a different game now; we need to keep up with it.

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DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

 

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Ashley Young
Manchester United

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