Diving Issue Clouding Football
The increasing debate around diving in recent months hasn't done anybody any favours, not clubs, not players and certainly not referees. Sure, diving is wrong, in the sense that it is against the law's of the game. If you get caught diving by the referee he will quite rightly book you, because as the laws of the game state that is the appropriate punishment for diving. But what I have never understood is why fans view it so negatively.
Many claim that it is simply cheating. And factually they are correct, but any other action that breaks the laws of the game is cheating. Tripping a player over is cheating, violent conduct is cheating, handball is cheating because cheating is simply breaking the laws of the game and diving is just one facet that can take. I don't understand why diving is an any worse type of cheating than anything else breaks the laws of the game.
Some suggest that players guilty of cheating should be retrospectively punished. I don't understand why. The penalty for diving is clearly set out in the laws of the game...a yellow card. If a player makes a standard yellow card tackle but the referee fails to book him there aren't calls for retrospective action so why is diving any different should a referee miss a dive.
The reason I feel strongly about this is the fact that scrutiny over diving has quite simply got totally out of hand. Referee's have been put under such pressure about pulling up divers we are now in a bizarre situation where more players are incorrectly booked for diving when they should be awarded free-kicks and penalties than actually proper dives being punished. And that is a laughable situation for the game to be in.
Another argument that irks me is the suggestion that teams can be relegated or promoted because of a dive and the fact cheating can have that power is totally wrong. I still find this argument absolutely ludicrous. Should a player in a big game like that deny a goal scoring opportunity or make a tactical foul to stop a team breaking, it would never be thought of in the same breath but potentially has equally big consequences.
The height of hypocrisy struck a couple of weeks ago at the Emirates Stadium in the game between Arsenal and Manchester City. Many fans and some anti-diving journalists I know of were upset Laurent Koscielny was dismissed after he denied a goal scoring opportunity. I chuckled to myself at this priceless moment. If Dzeko had dived to win that penalty they would have demanded a 1-2 game retrospective ban even though that is not the law of the game. As it was Koscielny deliberately denied a goal scoring opportunity and was correctly dismissed by somehow that form of cheating is not worthy of such punishment. Another moment of hypocrisy came over Christmas when Adam Le Fondre was correctly pulled up for punching the ball into the net. The total media coverage it got for cheating was one replay of Match of the Day. Proportionate? Not by a long way.
I'm not suggesting that diving is ok or an acceptable part of the game. I stating that like any form of cheating or law-breaking it happens and if it does should be dealt with appropriately as set out in the laws of the game. What I am suggesting is right now, we are having a discussion in this country which is totally out of proportion, totally incohesive and totally hypocritical, the result of which is putting so much pressure on referee's we are now booking players for being legitimately fouled.