Following claims from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that Luis Suarez is haunted by his reputation as a diver, I ask who is left in football who doesn’t dive?
Most footballers will now go down under contact from even the slightest touches especially in the Premier League and I can’t help but think we have to stop getting caught up in a diving debate. Football has moved on for better or worse.
Two weeks ago in Manchester City’s draw with Arsenal, Sergio Aguero was praised for his decision to not go down under pressure from Laurent Koscielny. Yet many observers believe had the Argentine left his feet, the Premier League champions would have earned a penalty. At a time when many football fans will see and accept players leaving their feet under contact and footballers who don’t leave their feet under pressure, can be praised and patronised in equal measure being described as “too honest”, can people still really get infuriated by diving?
Many still clamour for three game bans and extensive suspensions for those who clearly attempt to con a referee but now more than ever spotting a dive is a task on its own. Players have become so cunning in their movement and anticipating contact that I believe the era of the blatant dive is beyond us.
To go back to the Uruguayan frontman is it not possible for incidents to not contain fouls but also not warrant a booking for simulation? Suarez sprang to floor ahead of an on-coming challenge from John O’Shea and was cautioned. Slow-motion replays showed the 25 year old was clipped by O’Shea. In this scenario I believe that Suarez didn’t deserve a yellow card but then the award of penalty would be harsh. Here I believe you see the “grey area” and ambiguity that makes punishing diving almost an impossibility. So often you see what are described as ‘soft’ penalties being given. What constitutes a foul has become so subjective; I believe determining a dive is extremely similar.
To finish referring back to Rodgers’s point those like Suarez who are known as divers and don’t get decisions because of that should reap what they sow but the idea of the FA or UEFA punishing players extensively for simulation is idealistic. Football now exists in an era where players benefit greatly from leaving their feet regularly and do so for that reason. The incidents are too often and too subjective to police any further.
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