Liverpool Echo believe it's unfair to call Mohamed Salah a diver after reviewing all penalty incidents

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Mohamed Salah’s reputation may have taken something of a hit this season.

With 23 goals to his name in all competitions, Liverpool supporters still adore the Egyptian.

But rival supporters have condemned Salah for his perceived diving, his fall in the Reds’ 2-0 win against Cardiff on Sunday the latest to cause controversy.

“I think the end of it was a 9.9 Tom Daley job,” Cardiff boss Neil Warnock said about Salah’s theatrics, per BBC Sport.

“I don't think he could have got much higher off the diving board at the end of it.”

So is the 26-year-old now to be considered one of football’s divers?

He has won four penalties this season and each of the incidents has been reviewed by the Liverpool Echo, who think it is harsh to label Salah a diver.

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Salah's four penalty incidents this season

Crystal Palace (A) | August 20, 2018

Mamadou Sakho got tight to Salah inside the Palace area and took three stabs at dispossessing the Liverpool forward.

Contact was made but Salah’s fall was exaggerated.

The Echo’s verdict: “Salah justifiably hit the ground, but crucially, the way in which he did so was theatrical and exaggerated as a means of selling the contact that was made by the ex-Liverpool defender.”

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Newcastle (H) | December 26, 2018

Salah’s charge into the Newcastle box was disrupted by Paul Dummett, who was penalised after grabbing the Egypt international’s arm.

Again, Salah’s fall was theatrical.

The Echo’s verdict: “In this case, both sides of the argument are understandable to an extent.

“From Salah's perspective, he's moving at high speed, there is unfair contact that results in him losing balance, and he's permitted to claim for a foul.

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“However, from an outsider viewpoint, it looks as though Salah can stay on his feet, which is acceptable, but crucially, that does not mean he's dived.

“Dummett panics and makes a risky decision, and Salah poses the question to the referee by hitting the ground, as if he'd stayed on his feet, the referee doesn't have to make such a call.

“Crucially again, though, similar to the Palace incident, Salah hit the floor in an exaggerated manner after being minimally contacted.”

Arsenal (H) | December 29, 2018

Arsenal’s Sokratis was on the wrong side of Salah when he tried to regain possession from behind.

Contact was made, Salah fell and a penalty was given.

The Echo’s verdict: “It’s reasonable to suggest that Salah's could have remained on his feet, but by doing so, the referee then would not have been obliged to make a decision.”

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Cardiff (A) | April 21, 2019

Warnock compared him to Tom Daley but the Echo claim Salah was “effectively manhandled by Sean Morrison”.

Salah, though, looked very eager to fall to the floor.

The Echo’s verdict: “It is virtually impossible for Salah to continue progressing with the ball.

“The player could certainly stay on his feet, but in terms of retaining the ball and moving in the direction that he desires, he's being restrained.”

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Conclusion

“Ultimately, there are several constants involved with each incident that are crucial to the narrative that has developed.

“Firstly, there is always contact, meaning that Salah is certainly not diving in any given moment, as the intention of a dive is to deceive a referee into believing that contact has been made.

“Secondly, the players involved with Salah in these incidents all committed fouls as a result of trying to cover a previous mistake. Sakho, Sokratis and Dummett all ended up on the wrong side of Salah in terms of defensive positioning, and Morrison gave the ball away to Firmino seconds before fouling Salah.

“Finally, all of these incidents involve contact that is relatively minimal, meaning that it's reasonable to suggest Salah could stay on his feet.

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“Such an expectation makes little sense, though, as from Salah's perspective, he's being urged to accept disruptive contact unless it's enough to actually make him fall over, regardless of whether it impacts his shot or balance.

“Overall, Salah has been disturbed by opposing defenders this season who have fouled him in a desperate attempt to recover bad situations, rather than accepting such contact, Salah has instead decided to present his case to the referees by hitting the ground, albeit in an exaggerated manner, resulting in his unfair diving tag.

“On each occasion Salah has been fouled, but would he have been given the penalties if he hadn't have gone to ground? Most likely not. And that is the real problem.”

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