The Question of Diving

Monday, August 31, 2009 | View Comments

As an American soccer fan, it's incumbent (or so it seems) that I defend the sport constantly against ad hominem attacks by those that hate the game. It's an extra part of the "job" that comes with love the game here, something our fellow fans around the world generally aren't faced with. The list of "faults" that the anti-soccer crowd uses to attack the game are as numerous as they are ridiculous; but there is one particular issue that continues to come up that often forces us to throw up our hands in frustration.


What defense is there for diving? How can I look an American soccer hater in the eye and excuse away the blatant cheating that happens entirely too often? I struggle to say "Well, it's only a small part of the game."

While that's true, it's a fairly weak response. Diving is a problem, and many of us find it the most reprehensible part of a sport that is otherwise the greatest in the world. We desperately want the authorities that govern the game to do something about it, curb the blatant cheating, and get things right. I'm tired of making excuses for it.

But what's the solution? The issue has once again come up in the past weak, with Arsenal's Eduardo taking an out-and-out dive in a Champions League playoff match with Celtic, and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney taking a slightly less egregious fall in a Premier League match against that same Arsenal.

Eduardo faces a two match suspension for his dive, one so disgustingly obvious that it caused an uproar almost immediately after it happened. The Arsenal man's actions, falling despite making no contact with the keeper, drew the spotlight immediately. Eduardo could now face a two match ban, something that seems appropriate and yet sets a dangerous precedent.

Rooney's dive falls into a much more murky area. When I initially saw the play in full speed, it appeared to be a no-doubt penalty. Rooney's touch was heavy and he was extremely unlikely to be in on goal had Almunia not made contact, but the Arsenal keeper did technically foul the United striker. The issue of a dive wasn't immediate apparent, which might be a testament to Rooney's ability to fool the eye.

But it was a dive, at least in the strictest sense of that word. Rooney certainly started to go down before his legs hits Almunia's arms, which by definition, makes it a dive. Rooney took advantage of the situation, and made it impossible for referee Mike Dean to make any other call. It was penalty for United, which Rooney put away, a goal that made the difference in the defending champions victory over the Gunners.

Naturally, when the replays and super slo-mos hit the internet, the uproar began again. On the heels of Eduardo's dive, which while significantly different falls under the same general umbrella; cheating.

Removing the problem from the game completely is literally impossible. Players will always push their advantage, and referees will always be forced to determine which are truly fouls and which are dives. Humans are fallible, and so the situation is likely to arise again; but there is now talk of adding elements to the game that might curb diving even just a little, elements like post-match review on a more regular basis (as is the case with Eduardo), or officials on each of the end lines, who might be in a better position to determine dive versus foul.

Patrick Barclay of The Times Online thinks that goal line officials will make a difference. I agree that it could only hope, though I worry about the application, and adding yet another place for controversy to occur. Still, goal line officials makes too much sense for it not to happen eventually, and if it does actually deter diving (in the box at least), then that would be a good thing.

As for post-match review, that's a decidedly different can of worms. Using video to review simulation, especially incidents that are more open to interpretation as was Rooney's, could create a mountain of problems for whichever governing body decides to make it part of their regular disciplinary process.

Sam Wallace of The Independent agrees with Aresne Wenger on that matter, stating that if video review and retroactive action is to take place, "every single match – domestic or European – will have to be scrutinised to the same degree, starting with Wayne Rooney's dubious penalty award at Old Trafford on Saturday."

More work than it's worth? Or a legitimate way to eradicate the problem?

Either way, diving is likely to remain a part of the game in some form.

What would your solution be for curbing diving?

Zach and I also discussed diving on the new episode of the podcast, which you can download here.
blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy