For some the dive is a useful weapon in a footballer’s armoury. A well timed, theatrical tumble may just con a gullible referee, thereby securing your team an important advantage. For others (listen to Call Collymore!) use of the dive is flagrant cheating, depriving the players and fans of a fair contest. Whether outraged or discreetly sympathetic of footballers’ amateur dramatics, here are ten memorable moments of diving and simulation.
This was one of the more controversial dives in recent years. The former Arsenal striker Eduardo appeared to dive past Celtic keeper Artur Boruc but subsequently won a penalty. Uefa opted to ban the Croatian for three European matches but this was overturned on appeal.
Nobody witnessed the ball rebound of Brazilian’s leg and hit his face but it must have done judging by his Oscar worthy performance. The ball-kicker Hakan Unsal was duly dismissed for Turkey in this 2002 World Cup encounter. Rivaldo was later fined but unrepentant: “Obviously the ball didn’t hit me in the face, but I was still the victim.”
David Beckham’s name was mud after being sent off for kicking out at Simeone in England’s 1998 World Cup last-16 match against Argentina. However the Argentinean fell to the deck in a remarkable dramatic fashion. “I took advantage,” he later said.
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Some dives can appear deceptively genuine. This could not be further from the case when the former Milan forward Gilardino inexplicably went to ground in a Champions League match at Celtic Park. His bizarre dive provoked the ire of the crowd and the referee.
The former Tottenham favourite is credited with having initiated the staged dive with the inclusion of a few forward rolls. Football was never to be the same again. In the 1990 World Cup final his histrionics saw Argentina’s Pedro Monzon red-carded instantly.
An ill-tempered World Cup group match this year between the Ivory Coast and Brazil culminated in a transparent dive by Keita. The Ivorian ran into Brazilian playmaker Kaka and may have received the slightest nudge to the midriff. The clutching of the face trick ensued as he fell to the ground like a proverbial sack of spuds. Much to his team-mates’ dismay Kaka received a second yellow card.
For both club and country Gerrard has been something of a serial offender. Say it quietly because Englishmen do not dive and if they do it is surely the malign influence of the league’s foreign contingent. Against Andorra in 2007 the talismanic midfielder was out of options and promptly opted for a tumble in the box. A booking followed.
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After some unseemly fisticuffs with Martin Keown, Sheffield Wednesday’s Paolo Di Canio was legitimately shown a red card by referee Paul Alcock. However the ref should have been red carded for simulation after falling backwards for what seemed an eternity following the Italian’s petulant push.
Glasgow Rangers’ 6ft 4in striker dropped to the ground with his hands clasped over his face after squaring up to Aberdeen’s Charlie Mulgrew. The left-back was red carded but even the Rangers fans appeared mildly embarrassed by their player’s antics. Lafferty later described the incident as the biggest mistake of his career.
If a player is contemplating using Lafferty’s feigning frolics it is probably best reserved for a World Cup Semi-Final. Bilic, now manager of Croatia, had appeared to take a knock to the head from Laurent Blanc’s flailing arms whilst defending a French set piece. In practice he had received a minor push to his upper chest. Blanc was penalised and missed France’s 1998 final against Brazil. But the former West Ham defender was defiant: “I am not a cheat. I am honest. I am not to blame. After all, he hit me in the face.”