It’s an issue that plagues football and now it has reared its ugly head again – diving is back on the agenda.
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale picked up back to back yellow cards for simulation against Liverpool and Fulham last week, prompting debate, fairly or unfairly, over whether the Welshman is a cheat.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas reached for his excuse pretty early – he claimed that when Bale was moving at such high speeds that any slight nudge would send him tumbling down.
Former Liverpool defender turned Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen believes Bale does himself no favours by arching his back and flailing his arms whenever he is felled.
Bale’s two bookings make it four yellow cards for diving so far this term for the Spurs man – but is he the worst offender in the Premier League? And who are the other players guilty of trying to con the referee into giving them a decision.
GMF is on hand to name and shame the five worst divers in the Premier League.
Gareth Bale, Tottenham
Alas, no matter what Andre Villas-Boas or David Ginola say, the stats say that Bale is the worst diver in the Premier League.
But let’s look beyond the four yellow cards and see if Bale really deserves his reputation.
The Spurs man probably didn’t deserve to see yellow against wither Liverpool or Fulham, although some maintain he went down to easily which is understandable. That alone shows how difficult life is for referees in the Premier League.
But equally his dive against Aston Villa earlier this season which went unpunished was laughable – so is he a diver? Well the truth lies somewhere in between yes and no.
"Whenever a challenge does come in, I'm more likely to try and get out of the way and not get hurt rather than get hurt," he remarked previously. So does that make him a diver? That’s up to you to decide.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool
Between the start of the 2011/12 season and the end of September this year, Suarez was the most booked player for diving in the Premier League, with three yellow cards for simulation. Bale’s escapades in the last couple of weeks have really helped keep him out of the limelight.
Now there’s no doubt Suarez is a victim of his own reputation and has decisions go against him from incidents he has been involved in previously. A blatant penalty decision went against him during Liverpool’s league encounter against Norwich earlier this season that had most observers rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
But the problem is he does little to help himself in the eyes of the referee in general, and not just with diving. A couple off-the-ball incidents – one in particular against Everton – would have been seen by referees who would have made a mental not about it and that undoubtedly affects him later down the line when it comes to making any decisions.
Whether that’s fair or not is up for debate, but there’s no doubting he doesn’t get the rub of the green when it comes to 50/50 decisions like some other players would.
Ashley Young, Manchester United
You know someone has gone too far with their diving when their own fans turn against them. That’s what Ashley Young had to live with last season as Manchester United fans rounded on him following a string of high-profile incidents, and his reputation hasn’t recovered since.
Although he’s kept his nose clean this season, even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he ‘overdid’ it when tumbling against former side Aston Villa last term.
The problem with Young is that his habit of going down softly goes back to his Aston Villa days – he was booked for diving as far back as 2009.
Fernando Torres, Chelsea
Poor old Fernando can’t do much right these days can he? The Chelsea forward can’t seem to find the back of the net while received a (ridiculous) second yellow card against Manchester United for diving back in October.
Overall, the Spaniard has been booked twice this term which puts him as the joint-second most cautioned footballer in the Premier League for diving – although they must be putting something in the water at Stamford Bridge because the Blues are the most booked team in the league when it comes to going down softly.
Torres does seem to have a habit for going down softly which has followed him around in recent years, although the recurring theme here is that most the players on this list rely on speed, which may go someway to explaining why he goes down so readily.
Mario Balotelli, Manchester City
Another player on two yellow cards for diving this term, Balotelli appears to always be keen on maximising his fall in order to grab the referees attention.
On the other hand it is perhaps easy to see why that is; Balotelli joined Manchester City from Serie A – the league with the most players booked for diving this season, with Italian referees doling out 39 yellows for simulation so far.
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