For the novice readers, diving refers to the attempted action by a player to gain an unfair foul. This is generally accompanied by theatrics and some Oscar winning performances in faking injuries. A notable example was Arjen Robben in the game against Mexico at the recently concluded FIFA world cup and a certain hat-trick hero in white against Celta Vigo.
Forget the goal, the celebration was just appalling. That matador-esque swag doesn't really suit such a disgraceful act. We all know you can score a penalty, who are you kidding with the celebration? A serene moment of self-troll there. Before the Ronaldo clan erupts with the petty arguments, bare in mind I do chant: “Hala Madrid” in La Liga, so I have no vendettas here.
What can referees and governing bodies do to curb diving?
Diving has plagued the game since time unknown, but it is getting worse by the day. This begs a question of referees' abilities to separate fouls from dives and whether such actions call for stricter punishments. On a few occasions, genuine penalty claims are ignored and the victim is shown a yellow. Case in point: Sergio Aguero against Southampton.
Dives are characterized by certain time delay between contact and simulation, faux pas in conservation of momentum, injuries to parts of the body not involved in the collision and deliberate time wasting in getting back to feet. Referees seem to wilt under the pressure, especially in big games involving big teams and big names.
The Riberys, the Robbens, the Ronaldos and the Busquests rarely get booked for such disgraceful acts. As a neutral, there is nothing more fulfilling to see a footballer trying to stay on his feet and not just look for a contact. I know dives make for a good popcorn munching whilst watching the vines, but the impact on football is not too amusing.
Will punishments for diving work?
Diving calls for some stringent actions: be it post-match or during. Bans, fines, points deductions seem to be some of the negative reinforcement techniques that spring to mind. It is seriously disheartening to see some players you admire make the list. No one is questioning the sheer ability of such greats, but it does pose a question about passion towards football, the coaching staff involved and the management.
It is not like UEFA and FIFA haven't tried imposing bans on players. This is however met with sullen non-cooperation from the clubs and managers. The process of appealing and re-appealing dilutes the impact of these dives and the punishment to be imposed more often than not fades out. A certain incident from the 2009 Champions League game between Arsenal and Celtic comes to mind. Eduardo was handed a 2-match ban for an inappropriate penalty claim, but the ban was overturned after Wenger claimed that UEFA had a grudge against Arsenal labeling Eduardo as a cheat.
The fans from the home clan might make an argument for everything is fair in love and war and that Football is love and the games are fought with a war-like sentiment. Where is the passion in that? Where is the fair play?
Pledge against diving. It’s a pitch, not a pool!