By 90Min
February 19, 2018

Diving is a footballing travesty which has been ignored for far too long. It's become so prevalent that we're now simply accepting it. You see it every week. In every league. In every country. All the time. 

Cheating has now been promoted to "clever play" and players are encouraged to go to ground the minute they feel the slightest contact, with some of the highest profile managers brushing it aside as cunning and trickery. Strikers are innocent of diving the moment a defender is guilty of brushing past them. 

Harry Kane, in response to Van Dijk's accusation that he dived against Liverpool, retorted: "I felt contact and I went down. I'm not going to jump out of the way because it's football."

While he was accused of diving by many fans, many others defended the England striker and pointed to the fact that there was contact and consequently it was, therefore, a penalty by default. 

Sky pundit Phil Neville took the seemingly impossible position that Kane dived but that it was still a penalty. The 24-year-old wasn't charged by the FA and so - according to them - it was the right decision. 

Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, was left fuming and clearly felt that his side had been wronged. However, just weeks before the German tactician admitted that his own side had benefitted from a "soft decision", when Lallana won a penalty in their 2-1 FA Cup victory over rivals Everton. 

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Klopp was jovial in his admittance, mostly down to fact that Everton had won a dubious penalty in the Reds' last meeting with their Merseyside rivals - a decision which he was seething with at the time. Consequently, Lallana's penalty was seen as some form of justice. 


There's one of the massive problems though. Diving is so widespread it's now hard for any fan or manager to accuse another opponent of cheating without sounding like a hypocrite.


If Klopp was furious with Dominic Calvert-Lewin - and he was - then he should be just as critical with his own players when, going by his previous standards, they are just as guilty. There's no point calling out diving only when it adversely affects your own team - criticism and punishment need to be objective and consistent. 

Dele Alli won another contentious penalty on Sunday in Spurs' 2-2 draw to League One side Rochdale. After the game, Keith Hill claimed that the England midfielder had "made the most of it" but also said: "I won't hold it against him and if he does it for England in the summer and we win the World Cup, I will certainly be supporting him."


He's completely right too. If any England player dived to win a penalty in the final moments of the World Cup final (you never know), then it would be difficult not to just ignore the controversy and celebrate. 


On the other hand, if a German player dived in the last moments to deny us a World Cup triumph - just imagine the reaction. 

The FA did bring in some new regulations to help stamp out diving at the start of the season with the introduction of an independent three-man FA panel. Two-match bans are handed out to players who have successful deceived the referee. So far, just three players have been charged by the FA. 


That's not to say just three players have been caught diving though, and it hasn't done much to stop players from cheating either. The problem is that the panel can only review cases where a penalty has been wrongly awarded (due to simulation) or a player wrongfully sent off. 

So, players can and will still dive until they are finally successful in winning their side a penalty - and only then will they be appropriately punished. 

Chelsea's Alvaro Morata, for example, hasn't faced a two-game ban this season, but that's not because he hasn't been caught diving, it's because he's terrible at it. Yellow cards are clearly not a big enough deterrent. All players who dive - whether they're successful or not - should receive two-match bans. 


Initially, the leagues across England (and Europe, if were to be introduced there) would end up having to ban most players but maybe that's what football requires at this point - some drastic action. 

The introduction of VAR could also be sped up. While it hasn't been that successful in England so far, Video Assistant Referee, which will be used at the World Cup in Russia, has helped prevent controversies in Europe and especially the Bundesliga. 


VAR would work both against false penalty claims and for genuine ones. Consequently, players would no longer feel the need to exaggerate contact, and instead referees can make accurate decisions based on clear footage of the incidents. 


Finally, the criteria as to what constitutes a penalty should be released by the FA and the world's governing bodies. While contact between players in the box can lead to a spot kick, it shouldn't be used to excuse a player from diving. Otherwise, we might as well give up with tackling and start playing touch football instead. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
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