Despicable divers

12 12 2012

Diving is the footballing pomme de terre chaud du jour,  regardez vous;

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce says Luis Suarez diving antics are spreading a cancer with the game”

I didn’t need the media to whip me in to froth because I have always absolutely detested diving. Without putting too fine a point on it, diving is part of a dickheads’ football armoury. There’s no excuse for it, not even if a Neanderthal has been trying to maim you for twenty minutes. (By the way, if you’re ever in that position don’t stress over vengeance, karma generally sorts twats out.) At best diving is an act of extreme childish pettiness; “Well if you’re going to tackle me I’m getting myself a free kick boo hoo!!”, at worst it’s arrogant narcissism; “How dare you try and take the ball off me, I’m an artist!!”. Diving is against the unspoken moral code of football.

When you watch the repeats of the Big Match from the early 1980s on ITV4 you are transported back to a time when players had to suffer, and I mean suffer, actual fouls before they would even consider sprawling on the turf. They were simpler times; no orange boots, player cams or false nines. If only the football on the Match of the Days that I watch now featured a simple type of football, unfortunately the Match of the Days of 2012 are chock full of diving twats; Cazorla , Bale , Suarez  etc etc etc….

Match of the Day gives you the impression that the beautiful game has been disfigured by tossers that are unacquainted with the fundamental facts of football. Today’s players seem to be unaware that other players are not only allowed to run towards them but they’re also allowed to tackle too. Diving has become so pervasive that even Llandudno’s 6-a-side league is besmirched by it.

It’s bad enough when your side is cheated out of something, there’s nothing worse than a diving fucker celebrating the award of a penalty he thinks he’s earned, but it’s almost as bad when your side benefits from a dive. You lose any moral high ground you might have earned.  Cheating is still cheating, even if your hated enemy is the victim. You either win clean or there’s no point.

On the other hand I may be too morally inflexible for football (In hindsight this is probably the reason I slipped through the net.). Here are the thoughts  of Saint Michael, the patron saint of self-assured footballers;

“It’s a very difficult subject to talk about, especially to people who have not played the game. There is a major skill in trying to outwit an opponent,” added Owen. “No one is for blatantly diving, of course they are not, but there is a part of a striker that actually tries to entice the leg to come out to try to win a penalty. It is a skill and it has been done for years and years and I don’t think it will ever leave the game.”

Reading between the lines diving is fine as long as you practice and make sure it doesn’t look like a dive. I won’t deny that part of his thinking is correct, the bit about “major skill in trying to outwit an opponent”. Football is a battle of wills between the defender and the attacker, or midfielder and midfielder, or keeper and striker. Who doesn’t love a cute little turn, or a fantastic piece of skill, that enables one person to beat another? I’m with you Saint Michael, but that’s skill. I’m not sure that “enticing the leg to come out to try to win a penalty.” is a proper skill. Although when you consider the present fashion; flying past defenders and leaving your foot behind, or sticking your foot out as you’re flying through the air, it looks like players treat it like any other skill. It’s done with such polished ease.

Players seems to think that fans, or as Saint Michael calls us; “people who have not played the game.” don’t understand, they think we can’t distinguish between diving, tactics and skill. It’s nice to know that we’re just the useless twats that pay their wages through tickets, merchandise and  Sky subscriptions. Well you bunch of fuckers I can tell, I understand what you’re doing, I see super slow-motion replies I can see how you look like you practice diving.

The pros are so clever they’ve managed to circulate the idea that modern diving is not really diving anyway. They say that because skillful players travel so quickly they’re automatically prone to falling over. They tell us that all it takes is a little touch and players turn into Bambi on the ice. Phil Neville said exactly this about Gareth Bale on Match of the Day recently. See how Bale is defended by ex-pros;

David Ginola defends Tottenham’s Gareth Bale over diving claims

Former Tottenham midfielder David Ginola has described Gareth Bale as a “diamond” and says his growing reputation as a diver is “unfair”…………………….“This debate really annoys me,” Ginola told BBC Radio Wales. “The kid is doing so well. He shouldn’t carry this on his shoulder. I don’t understand why we put pressure on him with false ideas. It’s unfair.” ………………………Villas-Boas also said Bale, 23, was only trying to protect himself after suffering “big, big injuries to his ankles”…………………….Ginola believes officials should protect players of Bale’s ability rather than punish them and said it was hard for a player to shake off a reputation for diving once he had been singled out for criticism……………………..He also said Bale’s pace was sometimes the reason he went to ground……..“You don’t need a big tackle to go down,” said Ginola. “A little push would be enough to lose the balance………………………….“Football is about entertainment. When you have players like that who entertain you week in, week out, you have to protect that. It’s so precious……….

This idea is seductive that even hard-nosed journalists are taken in by it;

A head-on collision is like running into a 600kg polar bear… so, do you still think it’s wrong for Bale to dive for cover?

Good on Gareth Bale for trying get out of Steven Sidwell’s way at Craven Cottage on Saturday.It’s not cheating, it’s sensible. At full pelt the Tottenham flyer, who weighs 74kg, bears down on opposition defenders at around 23mph.

If he acts the big brave British boy as everyone is screaming out for him to do, then a head-on collision is the equivalent of running into a polar bear weighing 600kg. No-one is stupid enough to do that.Why would a player of Bale’s talent put himself at risk of serious injury simply to man-up in front of the opposition and their fans?

He did that before, remember, when Charlie Adam nailed him in 2011 and he spent three months on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury. Bale remembers and quite right too. The following summer he was forced off in Tottenham’s pre-season friendly when Adam gave him another nasty reminder following his transfer to Liverpool. There is bad blood between them and Bale wants to protect his ankles from further punishment.

That is the reason given by Tottenham’s manager Andre Villas-Boas after television replays proved conclusively that Sidwell clipped his winger last weekend. Bale has become a moving target for the tough-guys ever since his memorable hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro in October 2010.The Wales midfielder came of age that night and he has been singled out for special treatment ever since.

This is one of the most precocious talents in world football and his breathtaking runs down Tottenham’s left wing should be respected by referees. Bale’s not a fraud, but no-one can stay on their feet when they believe they are about to be taken out by Brad Guzan, Daniel Agger or Sidwell. He is establishing a reputation for going to ground too easily, but that’s unfair on a player who is the main attacking thrust in this evolving Tottenham team.”

The article is clearly bollocks, or a subtle joke. Look at the link I inserted above and tell me that Brad Guzan was going to take out Bale. Skillful players possibly need a bit of protection as nobody wants to see them maimed but this idea shouldn’t be used as a cover for cheating.

If we give skillful players the moral latitude to use diving as an act of self-preservation we must demand answers to the following questions; why do players always seem to dive when the ball has left their total control? How do  players manage to couple supple dexterity of movement with supple ball control in order to outfox the closest of markers opponents but fail to stay on their feet when running in a straight line? How many times have you seen Lionel Messi dive like Gareth Bale? How come in the more physically threatening sport of rugby Shane Williams was able to use his fantastic ability to change direction instantly to avoid the attentions hulking players? How come Shane was hardly injured? eh Gareth, eh!! What’s the difference, you’re both Welsh. Oh that’s right Shane doesn’t wear hair clips.

The first defence of diving that I remember came from the lips Saint Michael when he was accused of diving against Argentina in the 2002 world cup. Even though he had clearly dived he had the unmitigated gall to say “You can look at my shin if you don’t believe me” when he was questioned. Sadly the interviewer didn’t look at his shin. The moral mess hidden by this attitude was highlighted recently when Saint Michael admitted that actually he might have exaggerated, not “dived” as Michael says this is cheating, his way to a penalty.

The rules of football are clear on the matter of fouls as Pierluigi Collina states;

“………referees should give penalties when contact is made even if the players remain on their feet. “A player has a right to fall down if a foul was committed. I understand that a player who was hit by an opponent falls down. If he falls down without any contact this is the problem and if there is no contact this is cheating.”

Just to underline the last point here’s most of Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct;

A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent
  • tackles an opponent

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offences:

  • holds an opponent
  • spits at an opponent
  • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences:

  • controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession
  • touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player
  • touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
  • touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate

An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:

  • plays in a dangerous manner
  • impedes the progress of an opponent
  • prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
  • commits any other offence, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

If you look closely you will see that “attempting to tackle a skillful opponent”, “making it look as though an opponent has fouled you” and “engineering a touch from an opponent” don’t appear on the list of fouls.

A dive is cowardly cheating and it’s as simple as that. If I had my way there would be retroactive punishment for diving. If someone is seen to have clearly dived they should be given a season’s ban, if they’re caught twice they should be given a life ban. People will never learn otherwise.

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