Ever becoming an age old argument in football, how best to deal with diving and divers?
This is a debate in football that never sees a shy response, never a fence in sight to be sat on or indeed to fall off.
Should we be handing out tougher penalties? Harsher fines? Banning players? Castrating them? or sentencing them to watch Gillingham alone on a cold Friday night in Kent? Sorry Gills fans..
I challenge that we open up and accept it. That’s correct…. accept it.
Such as a lot of problems in English society, we have a habit of over-emphasizing, delaying and eventually under punishing, does it ever work? or does it in fact create more problems… So should we be looking at more punishments? Or do we take our blinkers off for the moment and look beyond the small muddy old stable we currently occupy and see what others options are available, for instance countries such as Holland that don’t punish but teach young people about drink, drugs and sex and enable them to make the correct decision.
I digress, the point I am trying to make at 3am on a Tuesday morning with a cold cup of tea in hand is that maybe it is time we stopped being so stubborn and set in our ways and learn to adapt to new approaches and concepts of the beautiful game, even if they go against the proud English tradition of being honest and noble.
The pinnacle of football I believe is for your nation to be the best and the actual fact of the matter is, we are starting ourselves off at a disadvantage by not accepting these new approaches. Applying stricter rules and punishment for our players in the Premier League will be teaching an entirely different game to what will be on show in International games, whatever you punish here in England will still happen in Europe, in America, in South America, and showing the naivety of going into a World Cup or European competition expecting fair treatment puts us at a disadvantage. Even if we reduce players like Luis Suarez to one dive every fortnight in the Premier League, believe in me when I say he will have no problem going down any second of the game throughout the World Cup, especially against England where he knows of our proud nature.
So what I propose is that we learn and teach athlete’s, young people, coaches and English football how to deal with it, accept it as part of the game and do our best to be smart, prepare and equip for players and teams who do it. I’m not for a second saying teach players how to dive and cheat but educate players and teams and learn the best possible way to beat it on the field. This approach opens up a player’s view of the game, it enables them to be better defenders, make smarter decisions and surely make us wiser and more educated about how to deal with these situations on the International stage.
I have heard countless people talk about how the Spanish embrace diving in their country with their young players, essentially suggesting they are born to cheat. We could argue they have a different approach to us regarding diving and cheating but are we so different? What do we determine as cheating, a Spanish Andres Iniesta going down easily over a trailing foot on the edge of the area in order to win a free kick for his team? or an English John Terry cutting down Lionel Messi with a double footed lunge with the intention of putting him on the sidelines for the rest of the game?
Sometimes you have to swallow the bitter pill that is pride in order to take that step forward. Historically and socially in this country we have a habit of being quitestubborn and very one track minded, granted sometimes that can work! but often that can lead to a club, a structure or an organization not developing and without a doubt the footballing world has passed us by for many years. There does appear recently to be a lot of movement in terms of style of play in England with the development of better and more educated coaching. Shorter passing has been introduced, more expression and skill but how far are we behind the next development? Are we already behind? Germany are showing the latest development of fantastic players such as Gotze, Kroos and Gundogan and as they have been for a while taking players of different nationality and helping them to obtain German citizenship.
So what do we do? Do we stick to our old game? Be proud of our game and the way we play it and remain as we are? or do we open up our ambitions and embrace the good and the bad in order to enhance our beautiful game and our beautiful country?
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