Monday, 17 March 2014

Get tough on diving

Somewhere lost in another pulsating Premier League weekend where we had Jose Mourinho dismissed from the touch line after his player Ramires' awful tackle at Villa Park, Vincent Kompany kicking a wall at Hull after letting Nikita Jelavic give him the slip and where the top four teams - Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal - remain four points apart meaning an end that will not be matched for several years.

Lost amongst all this were two examples of diving that further showed that it is near impossible for referees to get it right all the time and how the Football Association are failing to combat the persistent problem of simulation and diving in football.

The conduct do both Daniel Sturridge and George Boyd created flash points in the games that they were involved in and should lead to disciplinary proceedings.

This writer is calling on an independent panel to be employed by the Premier League and in unison with the FA to sit on Monday mornings and dish out retrospective suspensions on players that warrant such attention.

Daniel Sturridge's simulation occurred in the penalty area and led to the award of
Liverpool's 3rd penalty of the match at Old Trafford versus Manchester United. The sheer pace of Sturridge led to Nemanja Vidic diving in. At full speed there appears to be contact and looks a stonewall penalty, however, replays showed Sturridge has gone to ground without contact being made. It's an amazing dive yet it led to the dismissal of Vidic for a second bookable offence. Justice was somewhat served in that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard missed the penalty keeping the score 2-0, yet Liverpool did eventually win 3-0.

However, I am sure the referee Mark Clattenburg will feel he has been duped by Sturridge, yet because he has only booked Vidic and not dismissed him for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity the chances of the referee rescinding the card is slim.

This is where said tribunal can come to the fore and rule that Vidic's second yellow be rescinded and not serve a suspension. As for Sturridge they can rule that his conduct is unsporting behaviour and he should serve a one-match suspension. If that is the case, Liverpool lose a vital player for the title run-in and if that is the case such a suspension should act as a deterrent to players like Sturridge.
The tribunal can also act in retrospect for players who are booked for simulation, and rule that upon reflection maybe the booking was harsh.

Referees require help, goal-line technology is helping but such procedures of reviews of decisions will help the elite referees get better and obviously will work as a merit table. If some referees' decisions are always getting attention then maybe they are not cut out for the big games.

As for Boyd, it was symptomatic of an odd refereeing performance by Lee Mason. He sent off Kompany correctly, missed a red card tackle by Elmohamady on David Silva and also missed the simulation by George Boyd. Because Mr. Mason missed Boyd going to ground easily, a clearly infuriated Joe Hart berated Boyd and even put his head into Boyd's. On another day, another referee would have dismissed England's goalkeeper - yet the lack of action upon Boyd meant Hart felt compelled to have his say. Joe Hart got booked for adopting an aggressive attitude and his yellow cannot be elevated to a red as it maybe should; yet if Hart was suspended should not Boyd for such a blatant act of simulation. Boyd is not a regular and he missing a game would hurt his chances of remaining in the club.

Another thing to note is that the media so enamoured with goals and the spectacular were more reflective upon the domination of Liverpool over the current English champions (and rightly so), should really address the issue of diving with the club's managers. Whilst praise for Brendan Rodgers is correct, why not one question about the conduct of his striker? Too often an excuse is 'he is not that sort of player' and yet his actions clearly state the contrary; managers need to apologise and say their star players should play honestly as this trickles down to all levels of grass roots football.

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