The discussion about diving in this country can go on until everyone is blue in the face. It’s not acceptable here in the same way it is in other cultures; it’s frowned upon, it’s immoral, however it’s not breaking the rules.
You don’t want to see it and you definitely don’t need it. When you see serial divers go to their famous party trick for one reason or another, it makes your blood boil; maybe not in the same way a chair shot to the back in professional wrestling does, but near enough.
Santi Cazorla’s dive in the game against West Brom was another disappointing mark on English football and another problem Arsenal didn’t need. Yes, the player has come from a footballing culture where the issue is swept under the carpet in a far more nonchalant manner, but that doesn’t make it OK when he does it in the Premier League. English football needs foreign players to bring their finest qualities to this league, not one that starts a witch hunt.
And that’s the thing, it only seems to be the actions of Arsenal players which force people to spring into action. Paranoid fans? Yeah probably, but not without good reason.
The handling of the Eduardo incident back in 2009 was disgusting, and Uefa knew exactly how much of a hole they dug when they enforced a two-match ban. The only positive thing they did was almost immediately jump out of the hole and rescind the suspension.
So is it really a case of one rule for one and one rule for another? Or how about a third, whereby Arsenal players are dragged over burning coals and dipped into a pot of boiling water. That will show them.
Ashley Young’s two-week episode last season drew plenty of criticism and even more jokes (each one got progressively funnier or more ridiculous, whichever you prefer). But no one called for the FA to take matters further and introduce technology, no one got on the horn to Uefa and demanded something be done about this cheat. The dive was disappointing and was naturally overanalysed because of the climate of football in this country, but where were the calls for a beheading?
No, that wouldn’t be right: an English player representing Manchester United on the end of a good rollicking and potentially a ban? Not in this league.
Santi Cazorla shouldn’t have to apologise and nor would I expect him to. West Brom’s players were clearly wound up by the Spaniard’s decision to go to ground, but the player has been in the country for five-minutes and has one stain on an otherwise spotless start in English football. Where are the apologies from Gareth Bale, a serial diver who is continually excused yet has been booked more times than is worth remembering? What about Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney? If those players want to go to ground then that’s their decision, but it also becomes their clubs’ prerogative to take action where they see fit. Don’t use Luis Suarez and Cazorla as a scapegoat while excusing the Brits.
But that’s the larger point, it needs to be one rule for everyone and not people making it up as they go along based on the player’s nationality.
If people feel the English game has been besmirched then fine, but governing bodies need to take a step back and look to address the issue in the summer when there isn’t such hysteria around one player. Don’t make the need for a new set of rules to be off the back of one player, forcing him to carry the stigma.
Again, this issue of diving is not a rule, but referees make up their own decision if they believe the player has conned them. If it were a rule, the FA would retrospectively punish the players who got away with it in the same manner they do with other incidents.
And here’s the thing: I’m not even sure diving warrants a ban. Yes it’s frowned on and can really grate at the best of times, but there’s no way that a dive can be punishable by the same measure as breaking someone’s leg. If you’re going to give someone a one-match ban for diving then you have to come up with a whole set of varying ban lengths to fit other incidents. Like the case with Uefa and Eduardo, it just opens up a can of worms.
No Arsenal fan wants to see their players go to ground in such a way. But good lord, some perspective please.