Last night Arjen Robben admitted he dived against Mexico in their Round of 16 knockout tie. Robben won his country, Holland, a penalty in added time to sink the Mexican resistance 2-1 . Whilst he admitted diving earlier in the game he claims he was legitimately fouled for the key incident.
Robben unfortunately is a serial offender, as TalkSport’s radio commentary said during the match “it’s like the boy who cried wolf”. This was because in the first half Robben should’ve had a penalty, he was clattered from the back and front by the Mexican defence but the referee, perhaps knowing his reputation, refused to give a spot kick. Then, after a few more obvious dives that went unpunished he won his side the chance to strike from 12 yards. In my opinion it looked like a foul, he looked like he was clipped but yet again Mr Robben threw his arms in the air as theatrically as possible to make sure everyone knew he was “fouled”.
After admitting his dives there was calls for FIFA to act, he had said openly he tried to break the rules of the sport. Today (30 June), FIFA announced they would not punish Arjen Robben as the referee had not given anything. This is despite Sepp Blatter calling for action against divers, time wasters and play actors in February. Now of course, we can’t expect FIFA to be on the same page, they rarely are, but should Robben and other who have obviously broken the rules then face punishment?
Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town boss, told Sky Sports News that he would prefer and elbow in the face or a broken nose to losing out thanks to a dive but I think this is in some ways contrary to most of the footballing world. Most players don’t want to be physically harmed and will kick off if this is the case (see Luis Suarez third biting incident), but it tends to be that nowadays if diving escapes capture then it will be accepted.
Of course I’m not saying everyone is ok with diving, I’m not saying its right either, but as a season ticket holder at Cardiff City and an avid football fan I’ve seen plenty of fellow fans be delighted with the awarding of a penalty, even if through an obvious dive. It appears that it has become part of the culture of the game of football, managers will instruct players to go down, from the very top level of the sport to grassroots, parks football. It’s a shame but its the way it is.
Should retrospective bans exist? It’s a difficult one, what constitutes a dive over a trip that looks like a dive? Arsenal’s Eduardo was banned for 2 games in 2009 for a dive but this was overturned by UEFA, partly because of a lack of precedents. Now, the situation is at a point that even rugby style in-game sin bins have been suggested. Is this the way forwards? It comes down to a matter of judgement again by the referee, especially if he decides it was a dive incorrectly.
What is your opinion? How should diving be combatted?