My Pint Runneth Dry on Diving Culture

By
Updated: December 13, 2012
Leonardo Bonucci

There is not a shortage of blokes highly critical of “diving” as being nothing short of an epidemic.  I am one.  While you can Google “diving in football” and be directed to quite literally millions of articles, blogs, videos, podcasts and whatever newfangled piece of digital literature is available these days.  So why then am I insisting on adding one more to the lot?  Well, I just think it (diving) is much like water in a pasta pot that is splattering over the rim, ready to cause havoc on your new flat-burner stove.  It needs to be carefully controlled so as not wreck the integrity of the noodles (the game) inside, yet save dinner (the culture at large).  The difficulty I face, as do so many others, is that I’m hungry and I rather like pasta.  And while I also enjoy a fine ale with my pasta (as I do with most other things), my pint once again runneth dry.  In fact, it’s 3/4 empty, leaving me hanging by a single noodle.  Yet there is light at the end, which you shall see if you will only indulge me a few minutes…

This past weekend we had two incredibly blatant episodes of diving.  One from Serie A and another from the Prem.  First up, Arsenal were in a precarious situation as they limped into a match with West Brom after having lost points in the previous hundred matches (give or take).  My Gunners (yes, I consider myself a shareholder seeing as how I spend a near fortune on Gunner swag) brought a mostly complete first team (minus Giroud) to face WBA.  I’m not sure if I can sum it up any better by saying the performance was despicable.  Piers Morgan, who as critical of the team as they come despite claiming to be a huge supporter, was for once spot on – how can we not be blaming Arsene Wenger?

I digress.

As the score was knotted at zeroes, Santi Cazorla was in the box and went down easily.  As soon as I saw it I was hoping a reply would prove my suspicions wrong, but that wasn’t the case.  There was no contact, yet he fell.  Ugh, I hate that.  I really like Santi but that made me cringe.  The result was an easy PK, which was enough to win the match for AFC.  They did add another penalty goal later on, but that wasn’t a horrible call at least.

I like to think I am at least somewhat unbiased, as difficult as that can be sometimes.  This was a bad ridiculous dive that was the eventual game winner.  Something should have been done then, and after having seen the video footage umpteen times, some discipline should have been handed out since.  Yet life at London Colney moves forward all the same (relatively speaking – I’m not sure Arsene Wenger would agree).

So the Cazorla dive was bad, BUT it wans’t the worst, as what is being touted as one of the worst ever offences of diving occurred in the Serie A in a match between Juventus and Palermo.

Juve were up 1-nil when Leonardo Bonucci ran the length of the pitch and came face to face with Palermo’s keeper.  When his motion was stopped, he flopped.  Badly.  Actually, he even fell backward despite not even being in the same area code as the keeper.  His bluff was called, and rightly the referee stepped in and sent him packing for the afternoon, and as a result will miss the next match as well.  That was the silver lining in case you didn’t pick up on that.

But our story doesn’t end there.  We all remember the unfortunate instances surrounding Piermario Morosini last year.  The Serie B player fell to the ground in a match last year and minutes later passed away.  It is my belief that the referees didn’t stop play straight away as a direct result of diving in football culture.  When he fell (which obviously wasn’t a dive) it was not taken as seriously, and the time between when he fell and when medical staff were allowed on the pitch was far too long.  Whether they might have revived him if allowed on earlier I obviously have no idea, but there is that possibility.  I mean no disrespect in saying that, I’m just pointing out a growing concern.

There are two ways to look at this situation – there are those who believe it is just part of the game and culture, and others who more fiercely want to see it curbed.   While Serie A officials reacted, Premier League officials did not.  What needs to happen is immediate, more severe discipline.  While tying the offender up and kicking him in the gonads until he agrees to refrain from diving ever again might seem like a good idea, a better one might be:

a. Penalize the offending team either monetarily or by losing points

b. Penalize the player by adding suspensions for repeat offences, increasing in severity

For me the choice is between penalizing the player or the team.  What do you think?

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