Recently, the media has donated much print space and air time on the subject of players diving. The words cheat and cheating has become a regular entry in many a match report. However, in our hearts we all know that players have cheated for many years. Simulation is by no means a modern occurrence in the game, and I’m not just talking about the overseas game.
Firstly, we have to look at what is cheating. If we decide that cheating is gaining an advantage over your opponents by means that are outside the rules of the game, then our game is rife with the problem and always has been. For example, what is the difference between trying to convince a ref that you have been fouled when you have not, and a defender raising his arm to claim an attacker is offside when he knows all to well that he is not? Is not every foul that takes place on the pitch in fact cheating, when a ball leaves the pitch for a corner or throw in and players from both sides raise their arms for the decision to be in their favour, surely someone is cheating.
all of this seems to be acceptable, but if a player feigns a foul, he is pilloried. And if the ref is of the opinion that the player has ‘simulated’, he must caution him. So why is this not the case for false appealing?
then we come to us fans. God bless us, the bread and butter of the game. But oh how we cheat for our team. A ball is crossed into our opponents penalty area, strikes a defender on the chest, we saw it, we all know it hit him on the chest, but in unison, we stand in our thousands, arms raised and yell ‘HANDBALL’. The ref waves play on, so we turn to option B, ‘YOU DONT KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING’. Option B will not get us our penalty, but it may help next time when one of our players is tackled in the box.
Recently I was watching my team when an opposing forward burst clear and into our area, one of our defenders made a clumsy ‘at best’ tackle. Bolted on penalty, the ref blew, then gave us a free kick and booked the forward for simulation! The entire home support cheered, and then to rub salt into the wound, heckled the player as a cheat for the rest of the game. (You can always rely on a football fan to pounce on an opportunity). A fellow season ticket holder who sits behind me the leant forward and said to me in a hushed voice ‘we got away with that one’. Not sure why the hushed voice, I can only assume he thought if the ref heard him he might reverse the decision.
yes, players dive. Yes, players cheat, but so do us fans, and long may it continue because without the cheats we would not have our villains, and what good is a game of football on a Saturday afternoon without a good old villain to jeer.
Long May the cheats continue to prosper.