If football is to remain ‘The Beautiful Game’, the authorities need to ensure that diving is completely erased from the game.
Arjen Robben has been at it during the World Cup and it has also been known to happen in the Conference as well. However, this win at all costs mentality is damaging the reputation of the game. Everyone wants to win, but if a teammate or I cheat our way to victory, I wouldn’t feel right. I’d want to win knowing my team deserved it. Described by the FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce as ‘a cancer within the game’, what can the authorities do to eradicate football of this blatant cheating?
FIFA have done themselves no favours by failing to take retrospective action against Arjen Robben after he admitted to diving in Holland’s Wold Cup match against Mexico. In 2012, Boyce said that ‘If it is clear it’s simulation, they should be severely punished.’ In failing to punish Robben, FIFA have failed to take an opportunity that could have seen the first steps in getting rid of diving in football. FIFA have a vital role in setting the standard for the world’s other governing bodies to follow.
But what is the correct punishment for divers? Tony Pulis has called for three match bans whereas Sepp Blatter wants a time penalty to act as a deterrent. I think that all players should be given a one match ban, with the length of the ban increased for repeat offenders. The way that diving is refereed during the match confuses me as well. There are some clear dives that referees appear to ignore, especially if they are outside of the box. The law needs to be much clearer. Any dive, anywhere on the pitch needs to be an immediate yellow card. The only occasion I can remember seeing this happen was actually against my own team. Craig Gardner, whilst still playing for Birmingham City, was shown a second yellow card for a dive outside the area. This is the way that diving needs to be policed.
Diving also affects those who want to get into the game. The USA’s run in the World Cup has left the country enamoured with ‘soccer’ but many have criticised diving and how stupid it really is. The Wall Street Journal said that diving is ‘just one of soccer’s oldest and most universally despised tactics.’ If we want non-football nations to embrace the game, the powers that be must try harder to rid the game of the downright cheats who give it a bad name.
So should Arjen Robben miss his side’s World Cup quarter final? Yes, I think he should. FIFA have missed a golden opportunity to stamp their mark on the diving debate, a debate which will continue to rage on until there is a clear change in rule. Until this happens, the issue of simulation will remain a black mark on the Beautiful Game.