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Dive Comes Before A Fall

A worrying epidemic is sweeping football and it's got nothing to do with falty paultry. Diving, or the FIFA approved term 'simulation', has been brought into media focus of late. Partly because of yet another awful international tournament, which was blighted by histrionics. Though in truth I do not think diving is any worse now than it was five years ago, it's just that our sensationalist media decided that the gamesmanship of Cristiano Ronaldo was to blame for the thugishness of Wayne Rooney. Therefore diving is something that has been used as a scapegoat for the perceived failures of the national team.

Of course, prior to the World Cup Steven Gerrard's tumble over thin air was largely condoned and applauded by the same tongues that savaged the Portugese national side. 'It's part of the game, innit?' They shrugged. This is really the focal point of my article. In the cut throat world of top flight football and the financial rewards it reaps, most pros will do anything to win, if that means cheating this is what they will do. The crux of the issue is what can the governing bodies and we as supporters do to eradicate this problem?

The latest to be caught in the eye of the diving storm is Tottenham's Didier Zokora. With Pedro Mendes trailing a leg in the Tottenham penalty area, the Ivorian threw himself to the ground and conned the referee into giving a penalty. Of course, since much debate has ensued and what has disappointed me is the attitude of a large section of the Spurs fans (what else is new?) So often the self appointed moral crusaders, pointing their fingers and sharpening their knives every which way, I honestly expected them to apply the same etiquette towards their own player. (How naive). However, widespread condemnation was not forthcoming. Over on the Tottenham site, white hart wrote an article chastising Zokora and explicating his discomfort with the issue. But the comments thread attached unfortunately did not contain the same laudable objectivity. A plethora of excuses were provided, 'oh well we've had bad luck with decisions.' Quite why that is Portsmouth Football Club's fault I don't know. 'Well Drogba, Robben, van Persie, Eboue, Pires, Gerrard, Rooney etc, etc, etc do it.' A salient point, but does this mean it is o.k for your players to commit similar folly? If we are to apply a sociological metaphor, is it acceptable to mug a pensioner because, well it's 2006 now and everyone is doing it so why shouldn't I have a piece of the pie? A hyperbolic metaphor, I grant you, but a poignant one nonetheless. By far the worst attitude demonstrated in a number of cases was one of, 'who cares? we won.' Of course, these fans will elucidate the same fact next time they are on the receiving end of a distasteful piece of gamesmanship.

Let us not pretend that as Arsenal players are precluded from the act of simulation, far from it. Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Eboue are divers, and it sickens me. I'm going to have to do an Arsene Wenger here and confess to partial eyesight. I did not see van Persie's dive in Hamburg or Eboue's in Paris at the time they happened (in my defence, both incidents occurred at the opposite end of the ground to where I was sitting). But upon returning home from each match, I was sickened when I discovered these offences. The sense of satisfaction or the delight of Tomas Rosicky's super goal in Germany were completely removed when I got home and saw van Persie's dive. Be honest, in his time at Arsenal, every time Jose Antonio Reyes collapsed to the floor clutching a limb, did you not think, or even say, 'here we go again?' My impression of Reyes's mercurial talent is sullied by his histrionics and as a result, he never really ingratiated himself with me. Then of course there is Robert Pires, awesome talent that he is, he did himself no favours with his own pirouhette against Pompey. The upshot was that this detestable piece of cheating cost Bobby in the long run, many times thereafter he was genuinely tripped in the box, only for his reputation to deem him unworthy of a penalty. That was his fault, and he deserved to be victimised.

What I am getting at here, is that we as fans have to let our players know that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable. Failure to do so exacerbates the problem. If we give our players the moral legitimacy to dive, then we are as bad as the offenders. We also propagate the issue further as youngsters are encouraged to do likewise. My esteemed editor wrote a piece in lament of Mr. van Persie following his 'professionalism' against Hamberg, and rightly so. Even over on the Chelsea site, they have written numerous articles criticising the likes of Drogba and Joe Cole. The Chelsea fans even went so far as to boo their own player, Didier Drogba, because they had simply had enough of his histrionics. Consequently, I have honestly not seen Drogba dive since. Remember the goal he scored at Blackburn earlier this season? Andre Ooijer attempted to wrestle Drogba to the ground in the area, but Drogba used his physical attributes to stay balanced and blast home a quite superb goal. Last season, he would not have done that. Friedrich Nietzsche said, 'there is no such thing as moral phenomena, only moral interpretation of phenomena.' If we as supporters interpret the misgivings of our own players as satisfactory, the current diving phenomena will only multiply.

However, we as supporters can write articles and condemn our own players, but that is not sufficient. The real tone must be set by the governing bodies, who, not surprisingly, are loathe to do anything other than smoke cigars and feel their backsides grow. Many have pontificated on the prospect of retrospective punishment and I just cannot see why this cannot be implemented. The Football Association have passed the buck, saying that FIFA laws prohibit them from doing so. Hmmmmmm. We cannot heap more pressure on referees by determining diving as a red card offence, because the margin for error is too great. Why can't an independent four man panel watch every game retrospectively and identify divers? Personally, I would issue a six match ban to those who dive in the penalty area and a four match ban for those who simulate simply to invite trouble for others. It must be stressed that the panel should watch every minute of every game independently. We cannot allow the current trend in video punishment to reaman, whwereby bskyb and the tabloids (both of which are owned by Murdoch) create enough furore around an incident for the F.A to act. The current system allows for ulterior agendas to exist, players such as Gerrard and Rooney who are advertising whores are seldom accused for wrongdoing. bskyb screen a lot of commercials to a huge audience and the reputations of the players that endorse them are not allowed to be harmed. Of course video evidence can be viewed to stamp out this trend. Many argue that this will slow the game down intolerably, but I like Wenger's idea that each side is allowed three chances to query a decision and ask for video evidence in any one game. Sort of like a time out in basketball. This ensures that only really controversial incidents are viewed and the game is slowed down little. The time elapsed in viewing a video playback by the dugout surely cannot be longer than it takes for a referee to wave away the protests of a few rogue complaints?

Diving is now an issue that supercedes club loyalties. It is a problem for football in general and as such it is not enough to say, 'well so and so does it' or 'these things even themselves out.' It is supporters, as well as players, who are conned when simulation prevails. The governing bodies can neutralise diving by handing out stiff punishments by way of deterrent, for our part, we must change the perceptions of diving by ridiculing our guilty and hope we can alleviate this worrying culture. The gauntlet has been thrown down, but I don't expect our incompetent football association to take up the mantle.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 5 2006

Time: 11:48AM

Your Comments

great article and one that everyone should sit up and take note , if the referees are not going to do anything about it then us fans should be the ones condoning it to try and impact on the players that their own fans do not even like what they see !
dazednconfuzed
we must collectively boo divers including our own...LET THEM KNOW IT IS UNACCEPTABLE. if we cheer for our heros we must then jeer our villains
mish
Btw, have I written anarticle for this site yet that doesn't in some small way criticise Steven Gerrard? I'm glad Scousers don't frequent this site, they'd have me burned at the stake!
Little Dutch
what r u?a scouser?
anisrahm
great article. I was also ashamed of the Arsenal dives you mentioned and I am not surprised you did not see them at the time as they looked like fouls, so we cant blame the ref. in RVPs case there was even slight contact, though HE made that happen not the 'keeper. that is a grey area and one that the FA are scared to get involved with, preferring to hide behind the already over-loaded referees. however I would support bans for diving, no question of that.
gazzap
I liked that Dutchie. I too thought that Eboue was genuinly felled in Paris and it wasn't until my return to England that I found out it was a dive. That took a little gloss from my only happy memory of the game and choked me even more. I haven't watched the game again to this day and my momory of being there is slightly cloudy to say the least (Thanks to the joint effort of a day in the Gard Du Nord and my reluctance to remember defeats),
hatespur
I still think however that RVP was fouled in Hamburg.
hatespur
RVP was fouled, but he made more of the incident than was warranted. That shouldn't be punishable because your getting into dangerous territory when you try and decide how much contact deserves a ban if the player dived! He could be running quickly, heavier, slower, weaker stronger etc etc too many equasions to factor reasonably. But for clear dives like we have seen from Eboue and most definatly and recently Zokora (Martin Jol, take note and stop lying, again!) they can clearly be seen and identified, therefore easily punishable!
LondonGooner
The F.A would be opening a can of worms by punishing players after the event. For example, Zokora's filthy dive against Pompey would have directly affected the result. This is a multi-million pound business with a lot of money riding on every game, so by admitting an error in the penalty they are effectively admitting that the result of the match should be void.
hatespur
But do they not do the same thing when a player, Ben Thatcher for example, is retrospectively banned? They effectively admit that he should have been sent off and therefore, the result could have been different. I think retrospective bans are more of a deterrent.
Little Dutch
I think it is a little different in regard of a dive for a penalty (which directly results in a winning goal) being retrospectively punished. There is nothing to say that Pompey's result at Man.City would have been any different had Thatcher been dismissed.
hatespur
Retrospective punishments are the only way to stop blatent cheating and foul play that have been missed during the game, what else can they do? let them get away with it? If it means the result ma of been different, wells thats life, tough. But atleast the cheaters and violent thugs would be punished, rather that than nothing atall! Wondering wether the result would be affected is getting into the "if your auntie had ballocks she'd be your uncle" territory!
LondonGooner
If my auntie had bollox my uncle would be a lifter. I see where you're coming from, I'm merely saying that punishing players in this instance would open more doors of controversy.
hatespur
hang on a minute. the 2 clubs that produce the most divers are chelsea and yes you guessed it you scumbags. jol a liar? wenger wouldnt even have seen it the word hypocrite comes to mind. eboue in the c league final and just about every game he plays in, henry in the world cup, van persie, pires, all filthy diving arsenal scum. maybe the punishment should be to stop your club teaching the rest of the premiership from doing it by chuckin you out.
mrcommonsence
Ginola? Klinsmann? Congratulations, you have obviously not read the article (though that's a stretch for you), because if you had you wouldn't have made a comment that so perfectly chrystalizes the sort of hypocrisy I am talking about. Read it and realise just how much you've embarassed yourself yet again.
Little Dutch
You sound too young to have been going to Spurs when they introduced Klinsmann and Ginola to the prem. If you had the foresight to read what you have commented on you would find that we have been chastising Arsenal player's antics as much (more) than anyone else. So grow up and stop following your stereotype lackofcommonsense. For your guide that is how you spell sense dimmo.
hatespur
Sorry Dutch, looks like he agitated us both at the same time. I hadn't read yours before posting.
hatespur
I think mr. NONCEnse won't be back when he realises how much he's embarassed himself. Poor lamb.
Little Dutch
It is really in the spotlight and so it should be. It needs to be sorted out but it aint going to be is it?
jono_forest
sounds like mr noncense, speaks only one language and thats S***. u sound scared more than anything or shud i say jealous that arsenal are better than tottenham and the only way to make it easy is by chuking arsenal out. what a dimwit. lennon, keane, ZOKORA, jenas, davids and more have all dived for your information
abdleb
laith hate u nob hed
LASAYER
joke my name is lee
LASAYER
Quote: sounds like mr noncense, speaks only one language and thats S***. u sound scared more than anything or shud i say jealous that arsenal are better than tottenham and the only way to make it easy is by chuking arsenal out. what a dimwit. lennon, keane, ZOKORA, jenas, davids and more have all dived for your information. Abdleb.............Hey, you go on about how much other teams dive. Take a look at yourselves, Henry, Van Persie, Eboue, Reyes, Cole, Pires, Bergkamp,ETC, ETC, ETC, were all divers, take a look at yourselves before you moan about other teams.
The Cottager
people are talking about this like its only just started, its been going on for years Franny Lee was famous for it!!!
dazza71
Cottager, you sound like a Spurs fan!
Tugboat
Lets face it the majority of Tottenham fans are that fickle so what do you expect, they are always going to say its OK for Tottenham players to dive but not when its against us etc. There is another side to this and one that involves all teams and that is how many times has it happened to your team and the opposing team gets the penalty/decision? How many times have your team dived and you deny he did? Its rife, there is no point in whinging as we are all hippocrites and fickle, you pick on Tottenham because of your hatred and fixation of all things Tottenham....oh and before you start no I am not a Tottenham supporter...lol
Cravens
I felt RvP was fouled especially after watching the replay. But I would like to speak about the Pires dive at Portsmouth...I've read his autobiography where he states that he didn't dive no matter what people have said. I feel that if he really did dive he would've chosen to screen that bit of history completely rather than come out and say something like that. Btw...the replay of the incident wasn't conclusive because he was emerging between two defenders...I felt he went down easy...but I'm not completely certain I would call it an out and out dive.
dartagnan7
I agree with just about everything said in that article. I dont mean to sound like one of the fickle fans you spoke about in the article but in Van Persie's defence, there was contact, that said, he made the most of it and I condem him for that.
simmy8_2000
Cottager, might I suggest you read the article and not just the comments.
Little Dutch
Good article. As a norm, anything that is bad news for the scum is good news for me...BUT, in fairness to those spud supporters with slightly more than 1 brain cell, the majority of the comments on the dive that I read on the net WERE critical. Gooner for 59 years
Gooner for 59 years
spuds fans we are saying the FA should bring bans in for diving. So surely that would affect us just as much as any other premiership team? we dont want to see our heroes diving, and yes I think you'll find we have admitted to every case of diving over the past 6 years on this very blog, so we are just as bad as anyone else. Its not about blame, its about getting rid of this horrible aspect of our game once and for all. once 3 or 4 players have served 3 match bans, you will rarely ever see it again, thats how easy it is to deal with. the FA are pathetic.
gazzap
Idiots like Craven and The Cottager (nice name lol) clearly can't read properly as the whole article is about Arsenal players AND others who dive, so don't be such a pair of knuckle dragging, soap dodgers and learn your ABC's! We have criticised Eboue, RVP and Pires openly in this and many other articles, but Spurts fans such as yourself seem to be happy to condone such acts by your own players then come and call our players cheats......being a spurts fan makes you look stupid enough, you don't have to do any more lads, take the day off eh!
LondonGooner
sorry but nobody could have read this article properly. It has to be the most boring thing ever written. If i was near suicide like all you lot in here are this would tip me over the edge. Whoever wrote this needs teaching that you have to interest people to get them to read.
mrcommonsence
Publish an article for us mrcommonsenceLESS. Then we can read it when we can't go to sleep at night! If that doesn't get us tired nothing will!
Tugboat
Sorry Mrcommonsence but you're being a bit hypocritical there. You say our articles aren't interesting yet you comment on each and everyone one of them. So you're you're either a liar or an idiot.....which is it?
Rocky7
LONDONGOONER>>Quote.............................................Idiots like Craven and The Cottager (nice name lol) clearly can't read properly as the whole article is about Arsenal players AND others who dive, so don't be such a pair of knuckle dragging, soap dodgers and learn your ABC's! We have criticised Eboue, RVP and Pires openly in this and many other articles, but Spurts fans such as yourself seem to be happy to condone such acts by your own players then come and call our players cheats......being a spurts fan makes you look stupid enough, you don't have to do any more lads, take the day off eh! LondonGooner.................................. What a knucklehead, it just goes to show that your obsession with Tottenham knows no bounds, I am more than happy for you to continue to call Spurs fans stupid but how stupid and pathetic do you look with your homphobic comments and calling someone called cravens and cottager spurs fans when anyone with the smallest of brains can work out that we are Fulham fans with names like cravens and cottager its not that difficult to work out you pathetic numpty! if there was 6 of you we still would'nt have enough for a half wit!!
Cravens
Londongooner...actually if YOU read the article there is quite a long paragraph about Tottenham, I think the point trying to be made is that this site seems to have an obsession with Tottenham, (look at your previous articles and posts) Where as if you go on the Tottenham site (and I know that a lot of you spend a lot of time on it) they do not have the same obsession with you as you do with them. Perhaps you are all closet Tottenham fans...I dunno, but don't have a go at posters for stating something that is so blatently obvious to everyone other than an Arsenal fan.
squeaky
Cravens, soap dodger is not a homophobic comment, so I think you owe London Gooner an apology. Secondly, the reason I mention Spuds in the article is because they are the latest to be caught in the eye of the diving storm. Thirdly, for Fulham fans you spend a lot of time here, do you not think it is slightly hypocritical to be accusing us of making eyes at another club. A couple of weeks ago, the Spuds site had an article on Arsenal ticket pricing! The reason they are not writing about us at the moment is because they spent all last season gloating about over taking us etc. Following their exposure as a mid table side at best, they are keeping a silence of embarassment, not dignity.
Little Dutch
The bottom line is squeaky, had Tottenham not dived for a penalty, they wouldn't have been included in the article. I mentioned a multitude of names, if you read the first sentence of the last paragraph, you will see why. You will also notice the picture I chose to accompany the piece, I could have dug up a picture of Zokora, I didn't, I used an Arsenal player that is readily identified as a diver.
Little Dutch
Nice piece, but I think the punishments are a tad draconian, although diving is not acceptable this article puts it on a par with extreme violent conduct, I think if you ask Mendes which was worse, what Zokora did or what Thatcher did, I know what he'll say. The present punishment is about right but it's up to the referee and linesman to spot them, however there is always going to be the odd incident slipping through without punishment, Zokora wasn't booked but then Thatcher wasn't sent off either.
artyb
A good well written article. I see nothing wrong with a retrospective ban for someone who's found to have dived and conned EVERYONE on the pitch.
FEn_100
What a knucklehead, it just goes to show that your obsession with Tottenham knows no bounds, I am more than happy for you to continue to call Spurs fans stupid but how stupid and pathetic do you look with your homphobic comments and calling someone called cravens and cottager spurs fans when anyone with the smallest of brains can work out that we are Fulham fans with names like cravens and cottager its not that difficult to work out you pathetic numpty! if there was 6 of you we still would'nt have enough for a half wit!! Cravens Well if you can't read a "knuckle heads" post correctly, then what would that make you? LOL exactly! As for being homophobic, hardly mate, again you didnt read any of my comments properly, there's nothing homophobic in there, just merely a laugh at a stupid name someone is using. Clearly you are both Fulham fans, and as someone new to this site, i hadnt realised that or the link with your names, shame on me then. Why does our site interest you so much, all the talk about the Fulahm glory years must be getting boring i suppose? Squeaker, as for the spurs part in the article, i never said there wasnt any spurs parts to that article, quit what you are going on about i have no idea???? "Arsenal players ADN others who dive" which would indicate, especially in light oif recent dives, that would seem to include spurs in there....wouldnt it? As for my and others apprent obsession with spurts, well you've got to experience the ***** to appreciate the good!
LondonGooner
its all very well to shout thief whenever someone goes to ground, but obviously a helluva lot of ppl. end up 'diving sooner or later. The fact is the EPL is the most physical leaague in the wld. and tackles have anyway got a lo snider than say 7 yrs. ago. Referees dont give away a whole lot of fouls and I see nothing with taking advantage of proven contact, even minimal one. You can sympathise with the associations a bit here... if they get into this controversy, they'll sink so deep theyll never be able to clamber out. Anyway, referees are supposed to be sole judges of fair play on field and if you take away the human attributes of the game and introduce retrospective decisions the a lot of things should be reevaluated - in "retrospect", of course. How about Maradona's WC winning Hand of God goal ? for starters....
theory henry
 

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