Colin Randall kills time with a quick rant about diving …
When I was a lad and couldn’t afford a Subbuteo set, I devised a makeshift version using various toys – toy soldiers, toy cops, whatever came to hand – and a marble for the ball. The floor or table provided the pitch.
My star player was a toy frogman. I called him Diver. I could make the marble ricochet off his almost mermaid-style form and sometimes sneak into the goal.
These days players become known as Diver for other reasons. I have no idea of the date or match when the first recorded dive, that is exaggerated tumble in the hope of winning a penalty or free kick or getting an opponent a yellow or red card, took place in football. Now it happens in virtually every game.
One Eduardo Alves da Silva was not even born when my Diver was doing his bit on the dining room floor in County Durham. We all had sympathy for him when he suffered that career-threatening injury; a lot of that sympathy evaporated when his conduct against Celtic gave the impression that he saw diving as just part of the game he’s paid to play.
I actually laughed when I saw his theatrics that night because it was obvious the referee would see through the ruse. He didn’t, though to be honest I continued laughing at the absurdity of it all even when the referee idiotically gave a penalty.
I am not one of those who loathe Arsène Wenger. He is a cultured, articulate man and I wish there were more like him in our game. His teams do not spring first to mind when I think of the snarling face of modern football. But his chief faults are hardly difficult to identify: the ludicrous occasional attempts to justify the unjustifiable, the failure to see what all others see. These are faults born of loyalty, and commitment to the Arsenal cause – and also, therefore, to the Arsène cause – so they are probably understandable.
Eduardo has got away with his dive because Uefa decided in the end that it couldn’t be 100 per cent sure of his intent. Everyone else, including a good many Arsenal supporters, was entirely sure, but so be it. I am not against giving the man the benefit of any doubt, however slight that doubt must be.
A Gooner signing himself as Drdflex2009 over at the BBC 606 site wrote this:
“The English and Scottish media have been giving Eduardo and Arsène Wenger stick for the alleged dive Eduardo did against Celtic. Because the media took such interests in it those idiots from UEFA decided to step in. Now it’s overturned and look what happens next, I haven’t seen UEFA been so quick to jump onto the Alphonse’s case though and don’t even think it’s taken that much interest from the british media either! How strange and bizarre is that?”
I’ll go along with him up to a point. ALL diving, not just the diving Pires and now Eduardo have made an Arsenal custom, should be punished. Cheating is alien to honest sporting endeavour, or should be. I make no apologies for having started to include the “Eduardo” question in all Who Are You? Q&A interviews with opposing fans.
And I welcome the new Sunday Times feature, Dive Watch – even if Craig Gordon was branded a culprit for a dramatic fall during the Stoke game. He made it worse with subsequent comments that, at the very least (if reported accurately), made light of the practice.
If I oppose cheating, I oppose it by anyone, Sunderland included. Poor Diver, my Diver, must be spinning in his box in the graveyard that broken old toys go to.