The English FA have today announced a new regulation that should help to combat diving in football. Under the new rules, If a player is found to have dived in order to win a penalty or get a player sent off – either a straight red card or a second yellow – then he will be punished retrospectively for “successful deception of a match official”. Until now, the only punishment available to divers was a yellow card if the referee picked up on the simulation.
Diving has become such an issue in the modern game, it’s rare that we are able to go a week without seeing a commentator or pundit discussing whether a player dived to win a penalty or free kick. The most memorable one in recent months was by Middlesbrough’s Gaston Ramirez against Bournemouth, a laughable flop about 4 steps after the tackle that rightly saw him receive a yellow card (he was later sent off after receiving a second yellow).
It is good to see that the FA are taking steps to stop players diving. Though calling it ‘simulation’ may sound fancy, diving should be called what it is: cheating! So in this regard it is good to see that the cheaters will be punished from next season.
This can’t be the last move against diving though. ‘Successful’ divers will only be punished if their cheating wins their team a penalty or gets an opponent sent off, so plenty of successful dives will still go unpunished if they are outside the box and either don’t result in a card or only result in an opponent receiving a first yellow card. Therefore incidents like Alexis Sanchez’s embarrassing gymnastic routine after Christian Fuchs threw a ball at him would still not be picked up post-game by a panel (Sanchez did get a yellow but that was for not being far enough away at the throw-in rather than his theatrics). It also wouldn’t pick up if a player’s dive earned a defender their first yellow and they later got a second one for a legitimate foul. Perhaps worst of all, it wouldn’t pick up if a free kick was awarded due to a successful dive and a goal was scored, unless the defender was also sent off for the challenge.
This is a great first step but once this is up and running it should be extended to any clear dive that is missed by a referee can be punished. Otherwise players will just get smarter about how and where they cheat. Only once there is zero tolerance can this be properly removed from the game.
Hopefully this is the next step towards making the beautiful game beautiful again.
What do you think about the new regulation? Do you think enough is being done to combat diving? Comment on here or feel free to tweet me @PS_tetheridge