Voice of America: hardly on the Armstrong scale but now target football cheats

Jake longs for stars in stripes

The downfall of Lance Armstrong has set people thinking and talking about sporting cheats. Salut! Sunderland has banged on about it for years, earning the admiration of some readers but irritating others. Trying to con the referee is admittedly on a different scale to the systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs*, but it is a scourge of modern football all the same. For a partisan site to campaign on such issues and keep a straight face, it has to be willing to recognise the blatant Gyan (often), Bent (sometimes) or Larsson (at Wolves) dive just as clearly as it sees it in opponents, and we have tried to be consistent. Our friend out west, Robert Simmons, believes football could learn a useful lesson from his side of the pond …

There are a lot of frustrating things about being a fan of world football who lives in America.

Most of my friends get irritated when I start talking about Sunderland’s position in the league table, even more annoyed when I try to argue that the Wear-Tyne derby is more of a rivalry than any in sports here in America.

People don’t understand why I don’t just watch the MLS and forget about my love for football across the pond. They just don’t understand the difference in quality of play, the passion of the fan bases, and the highs and lows of sticking by your team through an entire 38-match season.

However, there is one place where I agree with my friends and their stance against world football, and that is the prevalence of diving in the modern game.

It seems the most difficult thing about playing against Luis Suarez these days is that if you get too close he’s likely to go down like a heap of potatoes and leave you standing there looking like you’ve mauled him.

In fairness, it seems like he’s earned himself a reputation and isn’t getting many calls, but that doesn’t make his diving less of a disgrace. To make sure it doesn’t look like I’m picking on the South American players, Gareth Bale seems shy to take a hit, but certainly not too shy to go down if someone breathes on him too hard.

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The modern game is so fast and so physical that it is difficult and almost unreasonable to expect that even the best of referees is going to make the correct call each time. If we can’t expect the ref to get it right, then we should punish players guilty of diving.

Take a look at what the MLS has done here in America and implant it in England. There is now a committee that reviews matches and can retroactively fine players who are guilty of diving.

The best part of all of this is that the league is taking their position on diving seriously. There have been a number of instances in the past two seasons where players have received fines for taking a dive during their previous game.

Here is what I propose: after each match, if a player is guilty of a dive that player is given a fine. A second offense in that same season warrants a bigger fine. A third offense has a bigger fine and a two-match ban.

I don’t think this will solve the problem, but I do think it will go a long way to encourage players to work harder to stay on their feet instead of falling to the ground so easily.

I also feel like I need to say that there is a difference between “diving” and “going down too easily”. If contact is made it may not be a dive, but going down too easily is equally as difficult for a ref to determine whether the contact warranted a foul. So I’m not sure if the fines and suspensions should go for players who fall, as it were, into this category and would be happy to let my proposed disciplinary committee make that tough decision.

Creating such a committee in the first place would send out the clearest message that a determined effort was being made to rid the beautiful game of the stain of diving.

* Soon after this was posted, a tweet alerted Monsieur Salut to an article from a (French language) Belgian site about allegations in Spain from Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor at the centre of sport and doping allegations that if he revealed all he knew, Spain would be stripped of the 2010 World Cup trophy. The claims have been roundly denied.

23 thoughts on “Voice of America: hardly on the Armstrong scale but now target football cheats”

  1. Contributors to this thread might like to read today’s ((27 Oct) Liverpool Echo. The opening paragraph on the back page begins: “David Moyes has warned derby referee Andrew Mariner to be wary of Luis Suarez’s attempts to con officials because he fears divers will turn fans away from the game”

  2. The Scousers on here are deliberately ignoring Suarez’s most theatrical effort of the season against Reading at the weekend. Triple salco, pike and reverse somersault in front of the Reading box. The referee gave it.

    Its interesting to hear the comments of the Liverpool fans on this forum having heard their applause/cheering whenever Suarez goes to ground which was ringing around Anfield during the whole of the Reading game. Their apparently collective response to him going to ground is very notable but I’m still trying to understand what they are getting at. Are they engaged in some sort of mockery because they know that on most occasions he has taken a dive? Or, are they criticising the referee for refusing what they see as legitimate claims for a free kick (and there are some albeit not many!), which is denied by the referee who knows that Suarez is a cheat (and a racist cheat as well), who deserves nowt from referees, regardless of whether he was really fouled or not.

    What I see and hear from the stands at Anfield, is some way short of universal condemnation. It’s a shame that Suarez has brought this upon himself because he’s a tremendously talented player who should be making his mark on the game in positive ways and not through negatives which he has undoubtedly created by his own actions, although I admit with some of the Liverpool lads that there is something of a witch hunt going on,. Having said that my advice to Luis would be to give up stirring and boiling the cauldron.

  3. I remember the Sunday Times magazine back in the ’60s ran a photo of George Best stripped to his shorts, showing all the bruises and welts he had after a game. But he wasn’t a diver, either. Was anyone back then?

    • Franny Lee was the first exponent of the “art” that I can remember and that was in the 60’s.

      That, of course, leaves aside other exponents of “dark arts”, particularly, Collins and Giles constantly feigning injury after raking the back of an opponents shins, or inflicting a kidney punch!

      There must have been others!

      Can anyone else provide the names

      • I’m not referring to the “hard men” of the day (Hunter, Harris, Smith et al) who who accept what they dispensed, without histrionics or, indeed, complaint.

        Only the sly, cowards.

        For most, the cold sponge used to work wonders!

  4. I’ve said it beofre and I’ll say it again. No player on earth ever has the “right to go down” to quote MOTD. If you’re pushed over, pulled over, or tripped, you can’t help it – you fall over. Then it’s a foul

    The reason it’s more of a problem now? Difficult to put a single reason up, but maybe Gareth Bale’s “excuse” sums it up. “it’s not a dive, it’s protecting myself”..and here’s me thinking that jumping over the tackle would save more injury than falling over the outstretched leg.

    How about remembering when Franny Lee tried it on Norman Hunter? Norman Hunter punched him very hard in the face. Not that I’m condoning violence, but I think it put Lee off from doing it again in a hurry.

    Even the delightful Stephen Taylor shed some light on things “we’ve been coached that if we feel contact, then we go down.” Wonderful.

    We do look at our own players, and many years ago I aksed Eric Gates if he’d ever taken a dive. He said categorically not, but that he deliberately put himself in a position where defenders would be tempted to foul him. If they did, that was their look-out. I saw the state of his legs the day after a game, and can confirm that somebody had kicked him a lot.

  5. Dead easy, Gavin. It’s because Suarez is a player who consistently looks for a penalty rather than go for the ball. He has done it twice against Sunderland and most other fans would point the finger at him.
    We have players who buy free kicks (Larsson and Sessegnon are good at this) but not to the extent that Suarez does. I appreciate that you are defending one of your players, but try to see him as others do. He has a terrible reputation with non-Liverpool fans.
    That miscalculation by the previous manager over the Tshirts antagonised a lot of people and the current manager has made some unhelpful comments.
    I am sure that Liverpool fans can find fault with other clubs, but sometimes they need to look at how those fans perceive them.

  6. We do look at our own players. M. Salut acknowledged Sessegnon’s ignomy in many of his “who are you” posts and I posted a comment asking if the club condoned cheating when it put a photo of Kilgallon (I think) with his arm around someone’s neck on the SAFC website.

    Suarez does appear to have had some poor decisions against him this season. So does Cattermole. But you won’t find anyone on this site saying Cattermole’s recent sending off wasn’t deserved.

    Be honest with yourself and your club’s players. That’s all we ask.

  7. It just proves my point why jump on the band wagon an bring Suarez into it when you have got your own players to look at?

  8. I’m sure if spent as much time looking openly and honestly at your own club rather than picking on the latest pantomime villan you would find many examples of cheating within your ranks. I think at the moment with Suarez he is not getting clear cut decisions and yet other clubs are getting decisions for less through diving? For some reason this is being over looked? The Racism row was similar the British media and fans crucified Suarez however left good ol’ Britsh bull dog John Terry alone, stinks of hypocrisy to me. YNWA

  9. I agree with you that Suarez shouldn’t dive. But is it worthy of you getting on the band wagon with your blog. There seems to be a witch hunt on Suarez and it all stems from the Evra fisaco earlier this year. However if you want to get on your soap box about the cheating carry on. But don’t forget the blatant shirt pulling in the box.. penalty every time, when a defender leans too heavy on a player or pulls an attacking players arm when there’s a corner. It is all cheating and visible, and every team is EPL is guilty of it. Players, managers and supports should not condone any cheating but they should put their own house in order before commenting on others.

  10. Suarez has been getting kicked to bits in every bloody game and you find one or two daft dives and have a go at him!! What about the stamp by Huth!! He has even had blatant penalties turned down. The FA and their referees are a disgrace but neve rmind the FA will get their comeuppance when the HJC get hold of them for their role in the Hillsborough tragedy!! Meanwhile Sunderland will continue to flounder with your yard dog defenders and kick and rush football!!

    • A ‘daft dive’, numbered rather higher than one or two, is cheating, pure and simple. Suarez has only himself to blame if he is fouled and gets nothing. Hope you don’t mind that your comment now appears minus the obscenities.

      • Suarez should of had a penalty at Sunderland! Read the rule on fouls if a player attempts to impede a players run its a foul and that is what John O’Shea did. Cheating defenders are the reason why we have attacking players looking for penalties grabbing and hanging a leg out lead to players tumbling!

      • Trouble with picking on one highly debatable incident to prove the unprovable – that Suarez is above cheating – is that we can all play that game. No one who was there will ever forget the Gary McAllister dive to ‘win’ Liverpool a penalty against Sunderland. A long time ago but such a perfectly executed manoeuvre that it probably deserves inclusion in football cheating’s Hall of Infamy.

      • I think Suarez’s dive was pathetic, but he didn’t invent it. Diving is rife in the game. Every team has players that dive.

        Selectively picking diving as cheating but ignoring other things is also annoying.

        Strikers admit to falling over an outstretched leg. That’s cheating. But acceptable cheating. Acceptable? Why?

        A “foul” to me, is when a player is illegally stopped from progressing. Falling over a leg is not being fouled. It’s cheating. They see a leg and fall. Dive.

        A defender clattering a player. Cheating. Then shouting to the ref that the player dived. Double cheating. If it’s in the box it stops a goal.

        Every time the ball rolls out of play. Hands from both sides shoot up claiming for it. Some are cheating.

        Defenders blocking the run of a striker and shepherding it out of play, even though it’s out of the defenders control and 15 yards away.

        The list is endless. Even having a referee is a clue that there would be cheating otherwise! haha

        You name all the forwards in the league, and yes they’ve dived. Rooney, Gerrard, Owen blah blah.

      • I have to agree to a large extent with what you say. There seems to be a lot of behaviour that is deemed to be “professional” but which is against the rules. I don’t think that the officials always help themselves or each other because they seem prepared to let some players get away with things and not others. An example would be when Niall Quinn played for us he was frequently fouled in or near the penalty area but often never even got a free kick. But as soon as he leaned into a defender the whistle would go. defenders (and keepers) get away with things in the box that attackers are penalised for.

        They will see an infringement in one area of the pitch but not in another and I don’t know whether linesmen are told what they are allowed to flag for by some referees but how often do we all see clear fouls right in front of the linesman who doesn’t flag. It happened loads on Sunday when players were grabbing each other’s arms and clearly holding but we never saw a flag even though the lino was only feet away.

        Using video evidence to punish players who dive is all well and good in theory, but there are other forms of cheating which also need dealing with.

      • Great comment.

        For me, there should be but two considerations for the referee before awarding a free kick.

        1) Was the player fouled


        2) Was there enough contact to warrant a free kick if the player had stayed on his feet.

        If the answer to Q1 and or Q2″ is yes then a free kick should be awarded.

        If, however the answer to Q2″ is no then the player should be dismissed – NOT booked, red carded!

        This would tie in nicely with my belief that we must have a panel viewing games retrospectively and having the authority to hand out 2 game bans for a first offence, 3 for a second etc., etc . – with NO limit.

        The other, constantly, recurring “cheat” (which referees seldom punish is shirt/arm pulling when a corner is being taken!

        Yes they will frequently, warn offenders, before the kick, but then stare straight at it as the kick is taken and take NO action, when a penalty should be awarded if the offence is committed by one of the defending team!

        Rant over!

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