Diving in footy, a.k.a. “The Russian judge gives it a 0.”

diver

“The ref better be looking at this shit, yo!”

A ruling has come down that has immense potential, for both good and bad. UEFA has slapped Arsenal striker Eduardo with a two-match ban for “intentionally deceiving the referee.”

Editorials have weighed in, calling it abritrary and rather silly, like shutting the barn door after the horse has been spotted in the downtown area. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has likened the penalty to a “witch hunt.”

Why does this matter to us?

First off, here’s the video of the incident, for those who missed it.

You will never, ever see a more blatant, shamefully manipulative effort at (successfully) gaining a penalty, right?

Wrong.

Players dive all of the time. And the point of this is that we have two gentlemen on our club, who are getting a bit of a reputation, Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets.

Alves hails from the classic Brazilian, “I’m dead! I’m dead!” school of method acting, in which the motivation is simple: Act as though you’re getting a proctology exam with a red-hot poker. Make sure the ref sees you. Rise, limp around a bit and then back to it, mate.

Busquets, on the other hand, has a more stylized method, a combo platter of the Brazilian style, and the Catalan notion of seny (common sense). He only dives when he feels some contact, but then he sells it as hard as Alves, even as the whistle hasn’t gone, and the other club is scampering with the ball, toward our goal.

I don’t like divers. I even subtracted a point from an Alves rating in an earlier match for him diving.

But what of this ruling, and what does it symbolize? One of Goal.com’s cabal of caterwauling cockerels says that the ruling is hooey. His contention is that diving has gone on for eons, and why punish Eduardo, and why now?

The rule is simple: “suspension for two competition matches or for a specified period for acting with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision.”

Note that the “incorrect decision” doesn’t specify location, as in “In the box.” So Alves or Busquets, or any Barca player, throwing himself to the turf at the slightest contact real or imagined, could very well get two matches off. Eduardo won’t be the last to be smacked down by this ruling.

My view is that yes, divers have been doing their thing for years, hands over a face contorted in pain, fingers spread just a teensy bit, to make sure that the official is watching the show. And it’s detestable. And it has to stop. The most effective way that I know of to make it stop isn’t to give a guy a yellow card, as is so often the case. It’s to ban his ass.

People are howling because the UEFA ban came after the match, in the indignant hindsight of 20/20, buttressed by shrieks of outrage by Celtic, among others. Arsenal would have won the tie even without the unjustly earned penalty, so why do it? Has diving become that ingrained in the fabric of the game that it becomes automatic?

–Is there any such thing as a justifiable dive?

–Will the Eduardo ban have any effect whatsoever on players’ willingness to swan to the turf, writing in mortal agony?

Good questions.

But first, let’s define a dive. For me, a dive is more than making a meal out of contact. It is feasting even in the absence of contact, when a player brushed your chest and you grab your face, falling to the turf. Or when you “trip” over an extended arm, hoping that in the bang-bang reality of a full-speed match, you can sell the penalty.

There is no such thing as a justifiable dive. And why isn’t making a meal of the slightest contact not considered in the same category as a dive? A player is still trying to deceive the ref, right?

Will the Eduardo ban have any preventive effect on diving? UEFA hopes so, but I say no. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game.

Is it arbitrary? Depends upon perspective, but UEFA had to start somewhere. This ruling was last implemented in 2008, and that one did nothing at all to stop players from trying to sell agony. And this one won’t either. Which doesn’t make it wrong. Diving does not belong in our beautiful game. It makes me cringe whenever Alves or Busquets do it, in part because we should be above that. Back in the day, the legendary English club Corinthians was the epitome of fair play. If a penalty was awarded against them, they didn’t even defend the net, saying in effect, “Well, we must have done it, so we’ll take our medicine.”

My sense of fairness wants the game to be as morally beautiful as it can be visually. This ruling won’t stop diving, but even if it makes people think about it, it’s a step in the right direction. Because diving is cheating, and cheating should be punished. No, not every cheater will be punished, which doesn’t mean that some who get caught shouldn’t be.

What say ye?

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

148 Comments

  1. September 2, 2009

    The funny side of the story:

    What if Eduardo goal was the goal that knocked out Celtic from the competition?

    Will UEFA knock out Arsenal instead and keep Celtic? Because if not, it seems that you are telling the thief to keep the money, but he has to stay for a year or two in preson, then he can go out and spend it.

  2. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    I always try to go to the field, when I can afford it 🙁 But I never though about being a soci because I thought it would be expensive.

    I just looked it up in the web, you can become a soci from there and it’s 77 euros for people over 15…. is it?

    the web also says that it’s up to 40% discount for football and basket tix. Free tickets for hockey handball and “futbol sala” !!!!

  3. Kxevin
    September 2, 2009

    Be sure to include xocolata as part of that deal. Mmmm! Molten dark chocolate, in a cup. 😀

    And I’ll be too busy picking your brain about tactics.

  4. Kxevin
    September 2, 2009

    Yep. For old folks like me, the fee is EUR155, but worth every penny.

  5. yogi
    September 2, 2009

    Great Kevin, you can now report from inside stadium:).

    I am ok with UEFA banning Eduardo as the discipline needs to be applied at some point but the question is, how will they continue this practise. I hope this is not one off as it will mean petty vindictiveness. Looking at UEFA track record, one cannot expect anything else though, sadly.

    Alves is funny, when not irritating with his theatrics.

  6. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    what do you mean old folk? long time soci or something?

    from 15 to infinity is 77 Euros for what I see on the FCB page 🙁

    I remeber alves in Mestalla loosing time trying to win an oscar and absolutely everyone remembering his mother’s supposed profession… priceless ! The bad thing is when it happens to you, but that’s the way it is 😉

  7. September 2, 2009

    poipoi, you’re seeing the price for the rest of the calendar year. The full calendar year costs double that.

  8. eklavya
    September 2, 2009

    damn ciaran….now I feel worried…
    This a test from a mobile BTW…

  9. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    oh…. but we are not thoough half season yet!! the best is yet to come!! I’ll buy it next year by this time then 😉

  10. Flippy
    September 2, 2009

    I was up from 4 to 5 this morning, constantly trying to get tickets, but the server was SO BAD!! I even tried using Servicaixa and ticketmaster.es, both of them didn’t work as well!! The telephone didn’t work either… Nothing worked…Then later there were a about 10 seats left, but each were in a different section and never together. The only 2 seats together was really really really high up. DAMN!! :.(
    I guess I got to hope that I can get the tickets in the last few days, but it seems unlikely…

  11. fcbfan
    September 2, 2009

    new Shirt numbers are out for the new season. 24 players registered including Milito which makes it 23 actually, and out of 23, 13 are canteranos! is that normal or what.

  12. fcbfan
    September 2, 2009

    and Ramzi your wishful scenario of the Inter match and clasico, I’d like to see that! and oh, Kaka’s “I belong to Jesus” and Jesus aka Chygnasty is on our side, so, 😀

  13. Kxevin
    September 2, 2009

    I can’t believe we registered Milito. I overheard from the announcers during the Gijon match that he has a back injury now? Yikes. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to register him, since we have a small squad anyhow.

    It was a mess, Flippy. I think the only reason I had any success at all was that I was only after a single ticket. In the time that the page took to churn, more tix were gone. And as I said, from about 3:30(CT) to about 5, you could barely get on the site.

    I think it was the same as last season, Ciaran, in that we were a major injury away from not working the magic. It’s the same this year, and it’s true for most clubs. Look at Spurs. They were rolling, then Modric fractures his leg and now they’re ordinary. Rare is the team that can slot someone in an injury slot and not lose anything.

    We just have to hope for the same luck with injuries this season as last, and hope that Guardiola’s preventive injury regimen continues to show its effectiveness.

  14. Kxevin
    September 2, 2009

    fcbfan, the Inter CL match is Tuesday, with the Clasico on Saturday. I’m doing the double, for sure.

  15. utility73
    September 2, 2009

    I am all for punishing divers more harshly but I’d wish for the FIFA/UEFA to punish the misdoings on the other end of the scale, too!

    A lot more instant red cards should get dished out for harsh fouls which recklessly risk servere injuries on the receiving end.

  16. September 2, 2009

    poipoi, if you’re going to do it, do it at the beginning of the calendar year (Dec or January) because the membership runs from January-December, not during the season. It has nothing to do with the football season.

    Flippy, I had the same problem.

  17. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    yes! they should stop all the beating and care less about the diving. no one is gonna get injured for diving. well… maybe the diver 😉

  18. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    thanks isaiah! good to know, I thought it was all depending on the season

  19. Kxevin
    September 2, 2009

    Here’s the thing about diving and the fouls question that utility73 raises. If some guy takes a chunk out of Messi’s leg to prevent him from doing them damage, play stops, we take a (probably) harmless free kick and the damage is done.

    Are fouls now going to be categorized? And why not put a number on them, as they do in the National Basketball Assn? At present, you can just foul away, with no real repercussions as long as the fouls aren’t cardable. Yes, you can get the vexation accumulation card, but fouling is a legitimate tactic that clubs use to take better clubs off their game.

    So what about that? I would say 4 fouls in a match gets an automatic red. Otherwise, clean-playing teams such as us get penalized for not fouling the crap out of someone. I recall, when the Valencia attacker just waltzed through our defense to score that goal right before the half, screaming “Foul him! Foul him!”

    They didn’t listen.

  20. Helge
    September 2, 2009

    Wow. Congratulations Kxevin, you are about to see the two most awaited home matches of our season!!! Not only will you see the Clasico, but you’re lucky enough to see the return of Eto’o. It doesn’t get any better, right? 😉
    And damn it, I really hope Ramzi’s expectations on both matches will be fulfilled.

    Will you paint a big sign with “Barcelonafootballblog – més que un Blog”? That would be great, but possibly its not allowed to advertise your own website…

  21. Helge
    September 2, 2009

    That’s a great idea Kexvin, especially from our point of view 🙂

    But Platini already tried to support the weaker teams by changing the draws for the CL qualy, so I guess he won’t be satisfied with it.
    This rule would only increase the gap between the few top clubs of each country and the rest.

    Nevertheless, if one day Kevin Williams will be President / CEO or whatever of the UEFA, I will welcome it.

  22. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    kxevin… I’d go for that (maybe 5 or 6 fouls and you’re out) but calling names to the ref is part of the football idiosyncrasy, and since he’s the one judging if the repeated fouls deserve a card, taking that weight off his shoulders could be a bad thing for the show. Good for the sport but bad for the show I think.
    One thing that is sure, the refs should take more care of the players that bring people to the stadium, which are mainly the cracks, the dribblers, the attacking guys.

    lol …. cardable = f*ckable in catalan

  23. SoccerMom
    September 2, 2009

    Oh boy am I going to hear about this but …

    I don’t think that suspensions for diving are warranted. I’m not even all that comfortable with yellow cards for diving.

    I don’t want to see an over-tech’ed game, as some have mentioned above, like American football (where everyone has little headsets, a bazillion cameras, instant replay, blah blah) … it’s ugly and causes delays in an already halting sport. Even the tennis replays bother me. The graphics look like my son’s FIFA Playstation game in an otherwise superglam sport. The introduction of more technology to soccer is a real possibility once players lose entire games over a replay. There’s too much $$ at stake.

    I like the human factor of soccer. There’s very little equipment. It’s a bunch of guys and a few refs here and there. That humanity has its beauty but its pratfalls, too. Sure the players raise their hands more than the nerdiest kid in the class. Sure they point all over the place like an out-of-whack compass. Of course they dive. And if the linesman says it’s onside, or a goal kick, or not a foul, well then, the ref doesn’t blow the whistle. Period.

    Some of the most memorable soccer moments are those miscalls, mistakes, mischeviousness-es. Would y’all erase the ‘mano de Dios’ goals from Maradona and Messi (as our dear RayRay said, ‘If you’re not cheating, you don’t want it enough!’) Or — even better than the Deco dives — the Deco FOULS that he made look like his OPPONENT dived? Or the after-match press rounds where everyone falls all over himself to sound indignant and gracious at once?

    And for any holdouts out there, this is your MasterCard priceless moment (with a Pep walk-on?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA9_N3i9WZ8

  24. September 2, 2009

    I say no to the fouls number, just that refs should actually implement the rules of the game fairly. If you’re fouling a lot, you get a yellow card to stop. And if you don’t stop, you get a red card.

    Diving should be an automatic yellow. If a player goes down flailing and it isn’t a foul, then it’s a dive. Option A or Option B. If a dive is not called, then that player should receive retroactive punishment. And players that foul continuously should also get retroactive punishment.

  25. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    amen soccer mom!!

  26. ooga aga
    September 2, 2009

    like arsene said, sometimes you dive or lunge away to avoid contact. sure you dive, but it wasnt to earn a penalty — it was to protect yourself. anyone who has played soccer understands this.

    or, what if the goalie’s arm is outstretched on the ground right where you are about to put your cleat? you realize at the last second, instead of mangling his arm, you do a little leap and roll. this has happened to me as well as a player. but you dove right? then you get penalized for trying to look out for someone else.

  27. ooga aga
    September 2, 2009

    that is to say, it’s complicated. and yeah it seems arbitrary. i dnot know a good way though to solve the problem.

  28. El Tel
    September 2, 2009

    The Eduardian irony is that if the ref had got the call right, we’d only be dealing with a yellow card. But then Arsenal wouldn’t have had that first goal off the penalty. So a two-game ban is not so harsh after Celtic’s hopes were unfairly ‘scotched,’ putting them down 3-0 on aggregate. Still, Arsenal were the better side and deserved to go through.

    Wenger’s overreacting but he’s doing what any other coach would do – defending his player. And he’s been testy for a couple of years now, feeling hard done on many calls that don’t go his way day in and day out in the Prem. Kevin’s right about the footballing xenophobia there – just listen to the ESPN announcers when they wax philosophical.

    For the record, “hit and hope” football is boring and ineffective, and the pitches in England have been good enough to keep a stylish control-passing side going. Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool are all teams that control the ball well and pass stylishly. The top English teams have grown away from that old-style English game necessitated by rutted pitches and pooling water. Let’s hope

  29. El Tel
    September 2, 2009

    Sorry, the last line was deleted – should be…

    Let’s hope the commentators catch up soon.

  30. Tutomate
    September 2, 2009

    It’s a complicated issue. Because there are so many things involved. Because we are asking people to decide the existance or lack of “intention” which is so vague and leaves so much room for inconsistencies. Why Eduardo? Why now? Are important questions that should NOT ne so easily dismissed. I’ve seen the video I even seen it live on tv and it wasn’t the most blatant dive. The key to me would be the “divers” reaction after they hot the groud. Do they continue to fake or do they just get up. Because when your running at full speed and you see another body coming full speed at you, one expects an impact and braces for it. There are far worse ways of cheating in football IMHO. Like consistently fouling and kicking a player.
    A 2 match ban is excessive, he should have gotten what he deserved if the if the ref had seen t a yellow. The problem is that the REF made a mistake and awarded the penalty.
    I prefer the extra linesmen behind the goal. Not video replay be cause then you should go back and punish every foul the ref didn’t see. Bt hind sight is 20/20.
    I guess we will see if UEFA is consistant. My guess is they won’t be.

  31. Tutomate
    September 2, 2009

    Soccer mom makes a good point. And of course I also hate cheats. It’s just that this will bring more problems than solutions.

  32. September 2, 2009

    Eduardo dove. He did not call out for a penalty. Perhaps he was trying to prevent injuring himself or the goalie. But he did not try to correct the referee’s interpretation that it was a foul.

    There was no legitimate contact. It was a moment that could have changed the outcome of the game — after all it gave Arsenal the first goal. A two match ban is legitimate.

    However I have two problems with this rule and its implementation.

    First, UEFA allows video evidence to penalize a player for something a referee did not see. But it will not allow video evidence to overturn a referee’s decision: i.e. Abidal’s and Fletcher’s suspensions from the final in Rome (both were excluded on penalties which really were not penalties). This rule on simulation and its implementation just smacks of hypocrisy.

    Second, what is to stop every team from claiming ‘simulation’ when a player goes down, even if ‘diving’ is the only way to arrest a referee’s attention to the fact that a foul was committed? FIFA and UEFA have come a long way from the days when two footed tackles and challenges from behind were committed. By giving fouls referees protect players from injury. The game today is played at such a fast pace, which makes it elegant and exciting, but also makes it easier for players to get injured. The game needs to protect its athletes from injury (i.e.: Eduardo, who lost a year and a half to a horrific tackle).

    It seems to me that the best solution is one that FIFA has been experimenting with — putting extra officials behind the back lines in order to act as extra sets of eyes. An extra official behind the goal would have had the angle to see that the goalie in this instance made no substantial contact with Eduardo and could have advised the referee and allowed for the referee to make the correct decision: a yellow for Eduardo and play on.

  33. September 2, 2009

    To follow up on my first objection, above, the English FA will review video evidence and can increase or decrease the penalties for on pitch behavior appropriately.

  34. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    more refs behind the back lines would be a nice solution if anyone wants to solution anything. I’m fine with how things are right now – penalty or yellow card.

    btw… wasn’t it Osasuna vs EE when a player got two yellow cards for diving when both were fouls? the refs are soooooo bad

  35. Achraf
    September 2, 2009

    Hry poipoi what is the video you posted.

    El piscinazo mas grande…

  36. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    hry? 🙁

  37. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    I know there is a much better one but I can’t find it

  38. Eduard
    September 2, 2009

    ibrahimovic has a knee injury 🙁

  39. Achraf
    September 2, 2009

    i meant hey and i don’t know wat the video is about so I asked

  40. Kevo
    September 2, 2009

    #4! FANTASY! ouuu yeah
    Too bad half my squad didn’t play but Keiteee saved the day for me… that dude is a monster!

  41. Achraf
    September 2, 2009

    never mind i understand now so el piscinazo is dive

  42. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    yes achraf… It’s like”pool-azo” 😛

  43. OhYes
    September 2, 2009

    No, law is not fairness. It strives to be, but can’t be.

    Let me ask you this..how is it that one can be pulled over for speeding when not everyone speeding is punished for it? If you are going 2-5 mph over the speed limit, you probably wont get pulled over, even though you are breaking the law.

    But, my cousin for example, got pulled over for going 15mph over the speed limit! How can that be! That’s not fair.

    Do you think, if he said that in traffic court, that it would save him from getting a ticket? Does that make the law against speeding any more or less of a law?

    Absolutely not.

    Going back to fairness.. most things, as they pertain to the law, can’t be given an absolute monetary value, which is what’s generally used to judge fairness. If I break your computer, the judge will say “It was worth this much, therefore OhYes must pay Ramzi so and so.” Unfortunately, the judge can’t just look in a book to see how much your computer was worth. He has to make an estimate, which although it may come close, isn’t always absolutely fair. And that’s what law is all about. Coming close to, but not being able to achieve complete fairness.

    Going back to football..what is fairness? Should UEFA now suspend everyone who has cheated through diving? What an exciting group stage that would be! With almost everyone suspended and whatnot.

    They had to start somewhere. If it had to be with Eduardo, the latest high-profile case, so be it. It may not seem fair, but life isn’t always fair, and the law is life.

    As for cheating through other means..that’s all up to UEFA to decide. If they want to persecute anyone who in any way attempts to deceive the ref, that’s their business. They may want to focus just on divers, or just on diving that dramatically changes the outcome of the game, or they may want to focus on dives that result in penalties. It’s up to them.

    Don’t want to be at the mercy of UEFA? DON’T CHEAT

  44. Soto
    September 2, 2009

    There will never be a perfect solution for this. I agree with SoccerMom that there’s a human factor that remains. Thus, like many others, I think that the extra linesman at the goal is the compromise solution that will improve things with out marring our beautiful game. And the nice thing is, the extra lineman solves other problems beyond just diving.

    I also think it’s time for players to come out against diving. I want to see some peer pressure from the elders of the soccer community. Do we have players who command sufficient respect that they can come out, publicly and without FIFA sanction, and say “Drogba, that diving has to stop. Ronaldo, I am looking at you.” Maybe we don’t have players of such stature, but if we do, such a soft approach could help alot in creating the right culture on the field.

  45. Achraf
    September 2, 2009

    Hey in soccermom’s video why is there a penalty and redcard. red card for violence but why penalty???

    Also are the subtitles actually what the refs are saying.

    Lo que el ojo no ve is what the eye doesn’t see is this a legitimate program if so where can I see more videos preferably about more recent incidents

  46. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    penalty because it’s a foul… the ball was moving

    – penalty y expulsion!!!
    – me cago en mi madre rafa, no me jodas… penalty de quien?

    CLASSIC!!!

  47. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    achraf… “lo que el ojo no ve” is a section of a kick-ass football show called “el día después”. Best football program I have seen in my life, too bad they don’t do it now…. but I heard that they may come back!! It was on Canal+ Spain.

    lo que el ojo no ve was always good football humour, they filmed the crowd, the refs, the benches EVERYTHING. and all of their youtube videos are very good

  48. Achraf
    September 2, 2009

    plz translate poipoi i get the first part and the mi madre rafa but not the rest

  49. poipoi
    September 2, 2009

    ok, wait… here I go

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