Diving Enough To Make You Fall Out Of Love With Football

I write this article after the Club World Cup final where Chelsea lost 1-0 to Corinthians. Although as a Chelsea fan I’ll accept that Corinthians were the better side and were evidently more clinical, what I won’t accept is the diving that the Corinthians players undertook throughout the whole game. Diving and falling to the ground easily is something that angers me so much and just makes me feel sick.

So many times I’ve seen games ruined by players falling to the ground so easily in order to gain free-kicks and the referees falling for it, while I find myself frustrated and tempted to switch over. It’s the worst part about football, and quite frankly it’s enough to make me fall out of love with the beautiful game.

As a Chelsea fan people may say, ‘who are you to talk, Drogba did it all the time’. Yes I understand this but it annoyed me too, just as it annoyed all Chelsea fans, who if you remember correctly actually booed Drogba when he went down too easily in a home game against Manchester City in 2006. Chelsea did benefit from Drogba’s theatrics over the years, but towards the end of his career he did learn to stay on his feet more and we saw just how great a player he was, finishing with the golden boot in 2007 & 2010.

Then you may point to the fact that last season against Barcelona he went down too easily. To that I’d reply, ‘just handing out the taste of their own medicine’. For years Barcelona players have made a habit of going down far too easily, with the main culprit being Sergio Busquets. I remember a Champions League semi-final where Busquets went down as if he’d been shot, rolling around on the floor, and actually got Thiago Motta sent off. In the replay you could see Busquets peeking through his hands to see what the referee did. Disgusting play.

As justice would have it, Barcelona would lose the semi-final, after having a goal disallowed for offside (which was very close). Poetic justice. But what I don’t understand is why players feel the need to throw themselves to the ground so easily. In the case of the game today, every Corinthians player went down like they’d been shot after the slightest piece of contact. In my eyes this is just plain cheating. The player are deliberately exaggerating the foul in order to gain an unfair advantage.

In the match we saw Emerson go down as if there was a sniper in the stadium which resulted in Cahill being dismissed for what appeared to be very little. Ridiculous. Too many games over the last few years that I’ve watched have just be ruined by all of this play acting. This is why I’d probably never sit down to watch a game in the Brazilian league, due to this farcical play acting. It’s cheating and isn’t how the beautiful game should been played.

Over the last 15 years the diving has been brought over to the Premier League and this just angers me even more. With the continental players coming over to play in the League, we’ve been blessed to see some world class footballers at grounds up and down the country, but we’ve also seen the worst side of their game. Santi Cazorla cheated his way to winning a penalty against Swansea last weekend, and yet there was no retrospective action, and this is just one incident of the ugly side that foreign players have brought to the Premier League. However this has clearly had an impact on the British players in the league, as they adopt this tactic also. 

Gareth Bale has been booked 4 times in the last year for diving, which is more than any one else. I know that AVB went to meet the referees to discuss the problem and say Bale was simply the victim of bad fouls which he tried to avoid, but for me this is rubbish. There’s a difference between trying to avoid a challenge and diving. For Bale it’s most certainly the latter. Whenever he sees a foul coming, he flings his arms and legs backwards and looks for the referee to give the foul. That is plain cheating.

Another culprit who the press won’t dare bring up as he’s the apparent love child of the Northern based media, is Steven Gerrard. So many times over the years Gerrard has dived but not been pulled up on it, or accused in the media of cheating. One search in YouTube of ‘Gerrard dive’ returns nearly 6,000 results. Says it all really, and he has the cheek to accuse others of diving in the papers.

So whilst both foreign and British players are diving in the Premier League, it’s clear that this is a problem that isn’t going away, and is unfortunately just a part of football. I know the referees are doing more about it, with more bookings now for diving, but in my eyes this isn’t enough. UEFA had it right a few years ago when they gave Eduardo a 2 game ban for diving in the Champions League against Celtic, only to rescind it. If any player is found to have dived to gain an unfair advantage, it should be an automatic match ban for the player and maybe week’s wages fine.

If this was brought it, this would stop diving in a few weeks. Hit the players where it hurts, their bank account. For too long it has gone on, and if these measures were brought in which meant some sides were missing 3 or 4 key players a week because of diving, they’d soon learn to stay on their feet. The English game has been riddled with controversy in the last year, with accusations of racism almost every week from the stands, and continued diving of players, it really is enough to make me want to turn off my screen during a match. 

For some it has already become too much and they’ve limited the amount of games they’ve watched. But for me, although I may never fully turn my back on the game I’ve been watching for 20 years, I will certainly fall even more out of love with the game if the continued play acting and diving is allowed to continue, and tarnish the game we watch. It’s not entertainment, and if I wanted to watch diving I would have got tickets for it at the Olympics. Kick out diving, sooner rather than later.