Diving is one of the biggest issues blighting the beautiful game at the moment. And the topic was highlighted earlier this month during Swansea's visit to Stoke City. Victor Moses appeared to go down very easily under Angel Rangel’s challenge, leading referee Michael Oliver to award a penalty from which the Potters equalised.
What made this incident spark the diving debate again was that fact it was so pathetic. A strong, muscular player like Moses should not be falling to the ground at the faintest of touches. The referee was in a decent position to see the challenge and whilst in fairness it is difficult for him to make a split-second decision, that decision changed the game.
The only way to push diving out of football is to punish those who commit dives. So what method can we use to effectively analyse diving incidents and then punish the perpetrators, either in-game or retrospectively?
Many different ways of policing diving have been touted around but there are only two sensible methods of policing divers.
In-game video analysis: When an incident occurs and the referee is not able to reach a decision he can call on the video analysis team to inform him whether it was a foul or a dive.
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Whilst this would delay play for a minute or two it would importantly allow the referee to make the correct decision during the game avoiding potentially ruining the result. Another possibility is to have a small TV pitch-side with the replay cued up for the referee to make his own decision.
After the week’s Premier League fixtures, on a Monday or Tuesday morning, a panel of experts for example: retired players, referees and managers could analyse all relevant incidents and decide whether there is a case for retrospective action to be taken and if needed, handing out some punishment to the offender.
Whilst this would not change the result of the game (if the diving lead to a goal or changed the game somehow) it still allows divers to be punished without interrupting the flow of the game.
Stiffer punishments required
Whilst some may argue that there are already methods in place to fight diving with referees able to hand out yellow cards to punish offenders, it clearly is not working. Others may say that being labelled a diver is punishment enough but it clearly is not working as every week were talking about it.
Handing out stiff punishments against those who are deemed to have simulated a foul such as fines and one or two match bans would not only make the player think twice about diving again, it would also send out the right message to players around the league that diving is cheating and it is not acceptable.
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