Since the formation of the Premier League, we have been more and more blessed by the talent and flair that foreign players bring. Whether it be Cesc Fabregas’ audacious flicks or Paolo Di Canio’s scissor kick volley, foreign imports have undoubtedly bought us some of the best footballing memories we hold. Yet they have also bought the art of diving…or have they?
Now we all know the main culprits. Despite the numerous moments of beauty that Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo have given the Premier League, they have also had their moments to forget. We are as familiar with their ability to send the ball rocketing into the top corner as we are with their capability to feel a slight breeze and take a tumble as though they have been snipered. They have been able to raise our eyebrows and drop our jaws through both heroic and villainous acts and the so called ‘disease’ of diving is spreading like The Plague throughout the Premier League. The media are always quick to launch assaults on foreign players in the event of a dive yet are they also as quick to turn a blind eye to English divers?
Short answer; yes. Long answer; also yes. Diving is no new phenomenon and cheating is universal, people will always attempt to gain the upper hand in a sport where the stakes are so high, so why is it that home-grown players get away with it?
On Saturday evening, with his Manchester United side trailing 1-0 to Aston Villa, talismanic England striker Wayne Rooney threw himself on the ground in the Villa box after a non-existent tackle from Luke Young. Rooney received a booking for his troubles yet that was where it ended. Just eleven days ago we saw another example of this in which Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard went to ground in the Blackburn Rovers box in what can only be described as an act of simulation. Was there a media backlash? Of course not. Criticism of Gerrard and Rooney could only be seen in Internet forums or from whispers in pubs around England.
This only really becomes an issue when you compare it to the treatment that the non-English players in the game receive for similar offences. Liverpool’s David N’Gog was recently branded a ‘disgrace’ and woke up to headlines of ‘cheat’ amongst a host of negative metaphors. Now I am not trying to defend N’Gog for one minute, it was a dive and should have not gone unpunished, but surely the game is about consistency. People neglect that fact that N’Gog was probably the best Liverpool player on the pitch that night and almost single handedly gained the Merseysiders a point. Rooney failed to receive the same treatment as N’Gog despite having a relatively disappointing game, and do you think that if the United man had scored a 90th minute equaliser there would have been any mention of his dive in the press? No, neither do I.
Diving is an issue in football, it is an undisputable fact and the powers that be do need to start enforcing punishments. UEFA came dangerously close to doing this recently with the Eduardo incident but retracted the two-match Champions League ban through fear of opening a can of worms. The incident was acrimoniously replayed on Sky Sports News over and over and whilst I do not disagree with this policy, my issue lies in the fact that an English player would not receive the same treatment, in fact Rooney’s incident was not even a point of discussion on Match of the Day.
The issue of diving can only be rightly tackled if the League and the media dismiss their xenophobic attitude and remove their patriotic lens’. Diving may have been enhanced by the introduction of foreigners to England but the fact is that now it is universal and every nationality must share the guilt and consequences, even the English.
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