Diving has been an issue in English football for a couple of decades now. At first those pesky, dishonourable foreigners were to blame but as the authorities have failed to come up with an effective policy to deal with this abhorent behaviour, diving footballers no longer have to be imported in to the Premier League from foreign climes.
It is no longer a sin of the alien. These moral reprobates are being home-grown too.
Over the weekend we saw two shockers. Luis Suarez could have legitimately gone to ground several times against a Stoke side whose physical approach often borders on thuggery. When he did go down it was in such a ridiculous manner that he will only have reinforced the opinion that every time he does hit the deck that it’s a dive. Good luck with those penalty appeals.
Then there was Gareth Bale. Not for the first time has Spurs’ flying winger been caught in an act of simulation and so blatant was his effort against Aston Villa that you begin to seriously question the players’ intellect.
So what to do? Former Aston Villa and Ireland centre-half Paul McGrath has called for a retrospective three-match ban for players caught diving on tape.
“The only way to stop diving in football is to look at the tapes afterwards and, if it’s a proper dive, then ban the players for three games.”
Is this too harsh? When you consider that a bad tackle which could cause an opponent serious harm is generally awarded the same three match ban, should the authorities look at alternative punishments? If so what are they?
Without the use of in-play video technology, if the referee or his assistants don’t get a clear view of the incident then retrospective punishment is the only way to go. However we have seen in multiple cases in the past that the FA refuses to over-rule the decision taken by the referee on the pitch. This policy is driven partly by their desire to support their officials and partly out of some insipid cowardice to deal with this scourge.
We are now at a point where players and commentators justify any kind of contact as reason enough to do that ridiculous legs sprawled like a drunk baby deer type fall. Lacking the talent to match my desire on the pitch I have hacked down many an attacker over the years yet I’ve never seen anyone naturally fall in this manner.
Is football no longer a contact sport? What can be done to prevent this morally reprehensible form of cheating from becoming an even more accepted component of Premier League football? Or is it already too late?