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The act of diving has been perfected into art by some players. They can do it with some mastering the craft of going to the ground with just the perfect amount of weight and theatrics.
However, even some of football’s elite have become notorious for throwing themselves to the floor. They did it just in a bid to hoodwink match officials into awarding decisions in their favor.
What is diving football?
Diving in football is the term used for when a player attempts to gain an unfair advantage on the opposition team by falling to the ground easily and feigning injury. That gives the impression to the referee that a foul has been committed.
Players generally dive in order to receive free kicks or penalties or to earn opposing players yellow or red cards.
Deciding whether or not to award marginal fouls, especially when they occur inside the penalty area, has long been one of the most controversial elements of football and a regular talking point after games.
Referees are forced to decide in the blink of an eye between giving the fallen player the benefit of the doubt by awarding the penalty or ultimately seeing what was a fake attempt at trying to gain an advantage for their team.
High-pressure and intense games where the scoreline is either even or tight may see more players go to ground more easily in order to gain an edge for their side.
Diving has been formally termed ‘simulation’ by FIFA.
Which players are known for diving?
Brazil forward Neymar has picked up infamy for his diving theatrics during the World Cup 2018 in Russia. His numerous tumbles spread across social media like wildfire, inspiring memes and mockery.
After Mexico lost to Brazil in the World Cup group stages, El Tri coach Juan Carlos Osorio berated the antics of the PSG star as the reason for his team’s defeat.
Late on in the second half, Neymar was writhing on the ground for nearly two whole minutes after Mexico’s Miguel Layun trod on his ankle.
“This is a real shame for football,” Osorio said at the time. “We wasted a lot of time because of one single player.”
Interestingly enough, however, despite some players obviously taking the opportunity to dive as a means to gain an advantage for their team when the score is unfavorable to them, the Wall Street Journal analyzed the Brazil international’s diving patterns during the 2018 World Cup and concluded that his tumbles come more frequently when his side is winning.
Roughly 60 percent of Neymar’s falls come with the scoreline level, but the research showed that he actually goes to ground more when his team is winning – averaging 15 seconds on the ground when his team in front against only nine when the game is tied.
Additionally, Brazil’s games had been tied for longer than when they had led – so Neymar flops more often when his team is in front, approximately once every eight and a half minutes, compared to once every nine and a half minutes when the game is tied.
Tottenham’s Dele Alli has also gained a notorious reputation for diving, earning the dubious distinction of being booked for simulation twice in one season when Spurs played out a 2-2 draw at Anfield in February 2018.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino had no excuses for the England international, but also lamented that too much discussion around driving will distort the game in the future.
“It was a yellow card,” Pochettino told reporters. “It happens. During different games, a lot of situations like this happen. The problem now is we are so sensitive about the situation. And then we are so focused on Dele Alli. The referee was right and perfect. It was a yellow card and nothing [else]. It’s too much sometimes. There is such a focus on this type of situation. I think it’s a minimal issue.
“Dele is not perfect. Nobody is perfect. He is a clever boy. He is a little bit nasty. Football is a creative sport in which you need the talent that grows in a very intelligent person, with a very smart brain. But the problem today is that more than this type of situation, I am worried we are going to change the game we know.”
Former Liverpool and current Barcelona striker Luis Suarez also has a reputation for going to ground too easily, as do the likes of Gareth Bale, Sergio Busquets, Didier Drogba, Ashley Young, and Radamel Falcao.
Who are the worst divers in football?
When it comes to the worst dives in football, we need to mention Cristiano Ronaldo. How can we forget Ronaldo when talking about the worst diving footballers and best football players? This Portuguese superstar is no less than a masterpiece. He is never missing from any such lists. He is not just included in the list but ranks on top.
Just like dribbling, diving is all about timing, deception, and practice. Maybe this is why Ronaldo is the top Worst diver in the world. Ronaldo in his dribble leaves his legs behind to win a free kick to invite a challenge.
Following CR7 are Sergio Busquets and Neymar Jr.
What technique goes into diving football?
Usually, certain dives are fairly obvious to identify. For example, when the player goes to ground in too dramatic a manner, almost after a short lapse in time following initial contact with the opposition team player.
Certain players such as Neymar and Suarez are also overtly theatrical with their dives and are often victims of ‘contact consistency’ – nursing a body part other than when the impact occurred, such as when a challenge to the chest causes the player to fly to the ground or hold their face.
The ‘archer’s bow’ pose is the biggest giveaway used to identify a diving player, which has them set in a position with their head tilted back, chest thrust forward, both arms raised and legs bent at the knee to lift both feet of the ground to the rear. According to the Telegraph, such motion is counter to the normal reflex mechanisms used to protect the body in the event of a natural fall.
Dr. Paul Morris explained: “In most dishonest tackles the behavior itself does not indicate dishonesty, the deception is revealed in the timing and coordination of the behaviors.
“But one action is unique to a faked fall – the archer’s bow.
“This occurs in many dives but biomechanically it does not occur in a natural fall.”
Punishments for diving in football
The standard punishment for a dive is a yellow card. This can often be a first yellow, but it can also be the second yellow for a player, resulting in a sending-off. The rules of the game stipulate that an attempt to deceive the officials by pretending to be fouled or injured should be punished with caution. It is worth noting that not all dives are punished by a yellow card, with some referees choosing to have a talk with the player, with this chat usually stating that another act like this will end in a card.
There have been a number of attempts to ensure that players that dive will get harsher punishments, especially if the dive is not spotted by the match officials.
In 2009, UEFA handed Eduardo da Silva of Arsenal a two-game ban for apparently diving in the Gunners’ match against Celtic. Da Silva scored from the spot after the referee adjudged that he was fouled despite the video evidence suggesting there was no contact. UEFA’s two-game ban had to ultimately rescind on appeal though, with da Silva winning his appeal.
In 2011, Sone Aluko of Rangers got a two-game ban by the Scottish FA for a dive which won a penalty against Dunfermline Athletic. Despite Rangers embarking on a review process, the ban was upheld, with most agreeing there was not enough contact to see the player go down.
Fines & Suspension
In the same year, MLS began handing out fines and suspensions to players following a review after each match. Both Charlie Davies of DC United and Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake got bans for simulation in the same year.
In the EPL in 2017, Everton’s Oumar Niasse got a two-game ban for a dive against Crystal Palace. He was the first player to be banned by the Football Association for diving.
Harshest Bans for Diving
One of the harshest systems for bans comes from Oceania. A player will get a yellow card if the referee found him diving intentionally. They can even get a one-game ban if the referee reviews the and accused a player to have partaken in the simulation. If a player does this three times in a season, then they will get a five-match ban, or a suspension until the end of the campaign, whichever is longer.
What is diving in football? Diving is an offense that is among the worst in football. While it is nowhere near as dangerous as a reckless two-footed challenge, it is a point of contention across social media whenever it happens.
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