If you’re a football fan, you will undoubtedly have been outraged at some point by the antics of one or more members of the opposition who have decided to hurl themselves to the ground in the hope of winning a free-kick or penalty. The most infuriating of them all is when the referee falls for the act and awards a penalty or free-kick that results a decisive goal.
For many years, if not decades, diving has been regarded by football aficionados as a blight on the game; after all, it is cheating. Recently, referees have been under stricter instructions to give cards for diving, but this is only when they believe it is a blatant dive or attempt to deceive.
What can be done?
In the wake of several high-profile cases of diving in the current season, including Robert Snodgrass’s dive to earn a penalty for Hull City against Crystal Palace the FA has now voted in favour of instituting retrospective bans for the new offence of “successful deception of a match official”.
Coming into effect from next season, incidents will be looked at by a panel including an ex-player, former manager and former referee, who will review video footage. If they unanimously decide that a player has deceived a match official, the perpetrator will receive a two-match ban. This is a similar approach to that already used for dealing with red-card offences, and cases will be fast-tracked.
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Not only can the new rule be used to punish divers, but the review panel can be used to “correct” mistakes. Players can appeal via the panel and cards can be overturned. In instances where a player admits to the charge or is found guilty by the panel, any card given as a result of the deceit can also be rescinded.
How well this system will work and how much of a deterrent it will prove to be is unknown, but there is a good chance there will be a reduction in the number of blatant dives as everyone agrees that there is no place for cheats in our beautiful game.