I love football and always have, but one thing above all else spoils the values of our beautiful game. I have labelled this as “modern day antics” and it is something we are now expected to live with in British football.
Diving and other cynical similar forms of antics started to creep into the game in the seventies. It was a style of play ‘invented’ by our continental counterparts, and while not really evident in Britain back then, it has unfortunately become an inherent part of the professional game globally.
Many modern footballers think nothing of feigning injury to gain advantage, i.e. to win a free kick in a dangerous position or trying to con the referee into sending off an opposing player. As a fan who has also played football at a fairly decent level, I find these antics inexcusable.
I have seen players take a dive occasionally in the team I support, and when they have it can almost be embarrassing to watch, so you make a joke about it. At the end of the day
footballers are actually strong, super fit athletes.
I banter a fair bit with a particular pub mate who is an avid rugby fan. Because of the way the game has changed, it gives rugby fans the chance to ridicule our players (and therefore our game) that they didn’t have in the distant past. Bluntly put, they class footballers as overpaid, cheating cissies.
To some extent I have to partially accept this one way banter from real rugby fans, as in general rugby is more honest and played in a ‘real man’ fashion. Mind you, if I am confronted by a rugby fan that I have not bantered with before, I only have to mention the Harlequins’ “bloodgate” scandal to abate their keenness to relentlessly pick on football.
I have watched some rugby at youth level, and it’s pretty physical. Even at a young age, when the tackles are hard, they just wince a little then get on with it. If some of today’s footballers took a hit like some of these youngsters they would be rolling around in agony. It would give a lot of footballers something to think about if they were made to watch a good hard rugby match.
Although used to varying degrees, diving now seems to be a natural part of a players skill set. I am not sure whether they are coached how and when to dive, but I reckon that someone could make some decent money giving private tuition to the top players on how to make deceptive dives!
In my opinion diving has become prevalent in the game today because of the financial stakes and the huge financial rewards that players receive. Therefore, this ‘greed’ has overtaken the once sporting and gentlemanly values that the players of yesteryear adhered to.
I do not know what modern players earn in win or performance bonuses, but I bet it is not peanuts. Therefore, in the modern day players’ eyes, the team must win at all costs. If feigning injury to eke out time, or diving to gain a goal attempt opportunity from a free kick or penalty can help ensure a victory, and ultimately an extra few thousand in their pay packet, then they will do it.
In my view, there is only one way to stamp out this form of cheating. The players, coaches and football club owners are not going to voluntarily help to eradicate it, even if they do not personally agree with it; the stakes and costs for winning and losing are just too high. Only Footballs’ governing bodies and authorities have this power; in the main, this is FIFA.
Referees also have a part to play, but they can only be effective if the laws are changed to allow them to enforce it. Even then, the referees face a difficult task deciding whether cheating has actually occurred, and some referees would not be strong enough to enforce it, giving in to player pressure during the intensity of a match.
I believe the only way to stamp it out once and for all is retrospective punishment, backed up by video evidence. It is so, so simple!
Basically, if video evidence conclusively proves a player has dived or feigned an injury to gain an unfair advantage, the player should be retrospectively banned for three matches and have a fine of one week’s salary (or similar) imposed. The club should also be fined an equivalent amount to ensure the coaches stamp it out at the training ground level.
So what do you think? Posts and Views welcome!