Off the back of a few incidents recently, in particular involving Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, there has been the long boiling debate regarding players diving.
There was an incident at the weekend which saw Tottenham’s Kyle Walker blatantly push Sterling in the box, resulting in the England International fumbling a shot that he looked destined to score, being one of one with Hugo Lloris.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Sterling went down, that a penalty would have been awarded, as it WAS a foul. But would that then be classed as diving? Or even cheating? At the very least some would say its un-sportsman-like? But in a game that has so much riding on it, a pinnacle decision like that could make or break teams Title pushes or relegation survival. So surely if there is enough contact on a player and a clear foul is committed, a fall should not be considered a dive.
Diving is terrible don’t get me wrong. If a player is untouched, barely touched or clearly not fouled and then goes down like he’s been sniped from the top of the stands by Mark Wahlberg, then that is cheating, that is a dive. But if there is a foul committed and enough contact, resulting in that player getting no advantage, then I don’t see anything wrong with a player going down, especially as Referee’s only ever give those types of fouls if they do go down.
Only the Referee’s could change this altogether of course, by giving the foul despite whether the player goes down or not. But I simply cannot see that happening.
There are certain players who already do this, they’ll go down if they are fouled. Eden Hazard, for example, wins many important free kicks at Chelsea, but I’m sure that many of them he could have stayed on his feet if he really tried, but then would he have got the free kick? Highly doubtful.
I think deep down players will know if they’ve been fouled or not, they are then forced to make the decision whether its advantageous to stay on their feet, or go down to win a free kick that the Referee has missed.
It’s certainly a tough debate and one that has split opinions within the footballing world. Of course, I don’t want to encourage diving, nobody does, but I feel that diving is not the same as falling when you’ve clearly been fouled.
I guarantee that not one person would have claimed that Sterling dived against Tottenham, should he have gone down in the box. But I can also guarantee that if he had gone down, then his side would have got a penalty and most likely a goal as a result, with their opponents also getting a player sent off.
Sterling only stayed on his feet because he thought he could still score, but this is a decision that a player needs to make, it’s all part of decision making. Don’t dive on purpose, but if you’re fouled and there isn’t an advantage, win that free kick. Every player has done exactly that in the past and they will continue to do so, a foul is a foul at the end of the day, a Referee needs to pick up on this, but they don’t. So for me its a simple decision for the player.