“Diving has become a real problem in soccer worldwide. It is a form of cheating. But if the opponent dives and gains an advantage by drawing a penalty kick or a free kick, our player would feel he is letting our team down if he doesn’t try to gain that same advantage. So the answer is better refereeing. But the real answer is video review after games and punishing the divers to eliminate it from the game.”
– LA Galaxy Head Coach, Sigi Schmid (October 2009)
As the title suggests, my goal with this article is to see that the global soccer community backs the implementation of a zero-tolerance NO DIVING policy.
What Is Diving?
Diving is an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage, by falling to the ground and feigning an injury or to appear as if a foul has been committed in a situation in which one did not occur. Diving is an embarrassing and deceitful act that must be eradicated from our sport. It spits in the face of the integrity of soccer. Diving is cheating. It is lying. It is stealing from the game.
Why Is Diving So Prevalent?
Unfortunately, the issue at hand is that most of the soccer playing world do not see diving as problematic. In contrast to the traditional "American way" of soccer, which is preaching to play tough, keep working, battle for your position, etc. much of the rest of the world (I am looking at you Italy, South America, Central America, Western Europe) views the act as a legitimate segment of the game. A dive in their eyes is no different than passing, dribbling, heading etc.
It Is Just Part Of The Game
It is unfathomable to me how often diving is justified by folks who declare “it is just part of the game”. Excuse me!? For the love of everything holy please clue me in on how and why diving magically just became part of the 90 minute package. If diving is allowed to continue simply due to the old adage “it is just part of the game” then we are complicit in destroying the very thing we love. And for a sport that prides itself on being progressive and cutting edge in all aspects, both on and off the field, I find that excuse to be lazy and hypocritical.
A Zero-Tolerance 'No Diving' Policy
To combat this lunacy, I propose we launch an all-out assault on diving. Let's create a fancy attention grabbing hashtag. Something that will kick off a global movement to eliminate this circus. Let's make so much noise that the soccer muckety mucks within FIFA become aware of it and clue them in that the soccer world wants change. Whatever it takes to obliterate this ugliness from the beautiful game. PLEASE! I submit an action of zero-tolerance. No wiggle room. No mercy on divers.
Implementing a radical change like this may seem drastic and nearly impossible to some of you, but I respectfully disagree. If referees make it a point to dole out cards for diving, followed up by league disciplinary committees retroactively and aggressively fining and suspending players for diving, the ramifications would be swift. Taking it a step further, players with numerous infractions over the course of a season will see their TEAM also be punished via hefty fines and sanctions. Once actual teams and franchises start being fined, you can bet that diving will disintegrate in no time. Owners will not tolerate losing finances over this buffoonery.
Positive Aftermath of Change
This is a win-win-win all across the board. Fans win because we get to see some of the finest athletes in the world actually play soccer unencumbered. Attacking players will be more inclined to play through hard challenges because now they don’t have a cheap call to bail them out. And defensive players will be able to actually defend and not shy away from challenges. Furthermore, the referees job will become easier, as officials will no longer have to decipher between a bona fide foul and those that are fabricated.
I have now pled my case to eliminate diving. If after reviewing this article you still feel diving should stay part of our sport, please let me know your reasoning. I am open to discussion. However, at this juncture I wholeheartedly believe that diving is detrimental. I challenge you to change my mind!