Unpopular Opinions

My unpopular opinion: Diving

Happy Sunday everyone! As a treat for you i’ve got another new feature that i’m planning to upload every week.

I will be detailing my many unpopular opinions and today I’m starting with diving.

There are two sections to this post that are related to the issue of diving and they are as follows:

  • Players diving to try and get penalties
  • Players rolling around feigning injury once they’ve been fouled

We’ll start with the one that people seem to have the most issue with and that is players diving to deceive the referee and win penalties.

Players such as Harry Kane, Mohammed Salah and Jamie Vardy have all had criticism for being perpetual ‘divers’. Now I don’t actually have an issue with players diving.

If they want to try and con the referee then that’s their prerogative and they should be willing to accept liability if they are found guilty of diving. Also diving is so subjective, because the amount of contact needed for a player to go down differs in every situation.

I am all for players exaggerating a little bit of contact and going down because the narrative these days seems to be that it cannot be a dive if there is contact.

Also how often do you see players staying on their feet after a foul in the box and the referee not correctly coming back and giving a penalty once the move has broken down.

Diving or ‘exaggerating contact’ is needed because it forces the referee into making a decision.

Don’t get me wrong if a player does this against my team and wins a penalty, it annoys me but I can accept it (see Wilfred Zaha v Granit Xhaka last season).

Similarly, if a player on my team blatantly dives and gets booked or wastes a good opportunity then that also annoys me.

Basically I think exaggerating contact is fine but full on diving is risky and rarely leads to a penalty. VAR should clear up if something is blatantly a dive so I think it’s a problem that we will see less and less of.

Next I will share my views on players rolling around feigning injury once they’ve been fouled.

This is probably where I will get the most people disagreeing with me, because I would actively encourage my players to do this.

Let’s look at Neymar as a case study for this point.

The Brazilian constantly gets criticism for play acting and rolling around as if his leg has been snapped in half. I think it is very clever and necessary when he does this.

There are three reasons as to why he does this and why I agree with it.

The first reason is that he could get the player a card, whether that is a yellow or red. When the referee sees Neymar rolling around, his instant reaction will be that he needs to take action against the offender.

While some may say that this is unsportsmanlike, football is a billion dollar industry and winning means everything to these individuals so a little bit of play acting could be the difference between winning and losing.

Marco Veratti committed a horror challenge on Joe Gomez in the Champions League group stage last year and did not get sent off.

Why was this?

Gomez wasn’t hurt and just got straight up without any melodramatic rolling around and punching the floor. This meant that the referee was lenient with Veratti and he escaped with just a yellow card.

Liverpool lost the game and PSG went on to top the group, had Gomez rolled around a bit then maybe the result would’ve been different.

The second reason why Neymar needs to do this is because it can waste time.

If you are 2-1 up in the last 10 minutes and you get fouled, it gives you the perfect opportunity to waste precious time.

Time wasting is something that fans are very bipolar about, if your team does it then you love it because it settles your nerves. But if a team does it against you then there is nothing worse and it needs eradicating.

This instance of time wasting is so important, Spanish clubs are the biggest culprits and look at how much they have won in the modern era.

Anyway, if your opposition is stupid enough to commit a foul when they are chasing a game then why should you get straight back up?

The third reason why Neymar must do it, and for this point you can also include Wilfred Zaha, is because he needs protection from referees.

Remember the 2014 World Cup when Neymar was kicked in the back and he was out of the rest of the tournament?

This is why he needs protection from the referees. Of course defenders are within their rights to be robust when up against him but often this just leads to him being kicked for the full 90 minutes.

This kind of relates to the first point because he is trying to get them booked or to make the referee aware of the opposition’s tactics.

So he needs to do this to preserve himself and make sure he is not injured as frequently as he would if these tactics were implemented every game.

Anyway i’m rambling a bit now so i’ll bring this to a close.

To conclude, diving is fine because it is so subjective and play acting should be actively encouraged in the situations listed above.

Let me know what you think about these issues, i’m interested to see how your opinions differ.


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