The diver turning in his grave


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.

3 thoughts on “The diver turning in his grave”

  1. Exactly, John, and that;s my point. In fact you have rephrased the Eduardo question I now put to every contributor to who Are You? Do you take it gladly, do you take it guiltily or are you so ashamed you almost wish we’d gone down?
    Which is why it has to be taken out of the hands 9or eyes) of ill-sighted or incompetent referees. I think video technology is sufficiently advanced to deal with such incidents with minimal interference with play. And cards would follow, slowly eliminating the cheats or the cheating.

  2. For the many of us in Scotland who despise the Old Firm and have watched them almost continually get the ‘dodgy’ refereeing decisions it was a case of what goes around comes around as far as Eduardo is concerned.

    I will admit there was little contact and there is little doubt that he went down rather easily but there are many who have played for Glasgows ugly sisters who went down at the mere indication of a challenge and the referees were almost always drooling to award the penalty.

    So it was with a hearty chuckle that I watched the Celtic players whinge about what would appear to be a blatant act of cheating. Do you ever wonder why the Old Firm do so badly in Europe ? One of the main reasons is that the foreign referees don’t fall for the cheating and intimidation that goes on in their domestic game.

    There is another dilemma which may happen to any club at any level with regard to diving.Lets say Sunderland are playing the last game of the season and need to win to stay up. The scores are tied at 0-0, 89 minutes have elapsed and relegation is staring us in the face .Darren Bent bursts into the box and takes a tumble, referee( wouldn’t be Steve Bennet as he gives us nothing) points to the spot and Reid tucks away the resulting spot kick.Final whistle soon follows amid joyous scenes.

    Television pictures confirm later that Bent cheated and another club has gone down on the back of this incident.Would you rather Bent had not cheated and we had gone down or cheated and been safe.It is merely for the minute a scenario but is not beyond the realms of possibility.I know which one I would take every time.

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