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Where Do You Draw The Line Between Diving And Avoiding Injury?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 4 years ago
The argument of simulation in football is one that is regularly contested by fans, players and journalists a like these days. Currently it seems to be the consensus that British players are just avoiding injury while the Premier League's foreign contingent is cheating.

The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton came out in support of Tottenham's Gareth Bale last weekend after the winger was booked for simulation in Spurs' 3-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Ashton claimed Bale was right to get out of the way of Steven Sidwell and described a possible collision between the two players as "the equivalent of running into a polar bear weighing 600kg." He also argues: "Why would a player of Bales's talent put himself at risk of serious injury simply to man-up in front of the opposition and their fans?"

What Ashton fails point out is that Bale ended up limping off with a hamstring injury, suffered after an attempt on goal and not because of a polar bear-like collision challenge, later on in that very game. So Bale might as well have ridden that challenge by Sidwell, like 'most' footballers do, and accepted that football is still regarded as a contact sport because it was his own wrong doing of kicking the ball that led to his injury anyway.

That also raises the question of why it's ok for Bale to 'avoid serious injury' while the likes of Santi Cazorla and Luis Suarez are hounded for diving in order to earn their team a penalty? Two different sides of the coin, I agree, but it's all very much the same argument when you look at it through a wider sense.

Bale has been booked twice for simulation so far this season and has admitted in the past that he would happily dive if given the opportunity. He said: "You can see why people say you're diving but at the end of the day I'd rather dive than get hurt.” That's coming from a player who earns a very respectable living for playing a contact sport professionally. The word 'contact' is very important in this argument because that's what it comes down to. In my book, if there is no contact then there is no need for a player to fall over, pretending to be hit by lorry in the process.

Cazorla's dive that saw Arsenal awarded a penalty against West Brom last weekend should not be treated any differently from Bale and Ashton's argument. Many would argue that it was cheating because he was 'looking' for the penalty, but if he claimed he did it to avoid serious injury would that be the end of the matter? Of course it wouldn't.

It's a swings-and-roundabouts argument but one that is not fair when some players are applauded for doing it and others are treated unfairly. Gareth Bale is the perfect example of a player who is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world right now but is using his reputation as a powerful, skilful threat on the wing as a scapegoat for cheating.

However, Ashton goes on to claim that "thunderous challenges come thick and fast for players like Bale and over the years he has developed a physique to deal with most of them." Correct me if I'm wrong but, does that not counteract the whole argument of Bale looking of his own well being? If he has the physique to deal with challenges then why doesn't he use that to his advantage?

It is accepted that Bale is a possible target for the opposition given his ability and the limelight he has been thrown under after the impressive Champions League performances for Spurs two seasons ago. But that should not be used as an excuse for simulation.

The whole 'avoid serious injury' argument is one that has no substance whatsoever when you consider the injuries players suffer when not involved in any contact at all. As mention before, Bale is now out of action with a hamstring injury that he picked up while kicking a football, while West Ham's Mohamed Diame suffered a suspected hamstring tear while running with the ball last weekend against Liverpool.

Football is and always will be a contact sport, so players must accept that or maybe take up basketball if they are scared of getting a knock every now and then.

Blogby James Jones

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Chireficken (Tottenham Hotspur) 4 years ago
In my opinion, the way to separate the two occurs after the player goes to ground. The diver is often looking pleadingly at the ref before he even hits the turf, sometimes adding in a roll for dramatic effect. The player avoiding an injury bounces back up, or at the very least tries to shake it off and get back in the play. Try this approach on some 'diving' footage and see what you think
AnfieldCat (Liverpool) 4 years ago
"or maybe take up basketball if they are scared of getting a knock every now and then. "?!?!?!
Seriously? Have you ever in your life watched an NBA game? Basketball today is more of a contact sport than modern football. Players look are made of porcelain it seems! Watch a Chicago Bulls VS Miami Heat game and you will see for your self. Those guys are bigger, faster and they go pummeling into eachother more than any footballers in the world.

But to the point of the article, Domestic players get to much protection in the PL. Look at young last year. Bale this year. Clear attempts to "cheat" through diving. Saying anything else is a load of rubbish. But there is nothing about that in the media, they are protected. But as soon as a foreign player dives.... All hel breaks loose. I'm not defending Cazorla or Suarez. I just want equality when it comes to cheating. Anyone else see this as unfair?
Lampuiho (Arsenal) 4 years ago
Kicking legs can cause more damage than bodies in close contact
Alexjedibble (Liverpool) 4 years ago
Firstly, thank you for writing a blog on this subject. I think it's a very interesting debate and is also a distinction that needs to be discussed.

But I'm afraid some of your opinions and conclusions are completely illogical.

You say that because injury can occur when running with the ball that players should therefore put themselves at risk of injury in tackles. This is utterly ridiculous. You would never say "You can get mugged walking down any street these days, therefore why don't I deliberately walk through a bad neighbourhood. "

I could not agree more with Lampuiho. When a player's entire weight and velocity is all contained in one outstretched boot as he goes into a tackle, the risk of injury is far greater than during bodily collisions.

I also completely agree with Chireficken.

Gareth Bale was slated on MOTD for his 'theatrical' dive, but there was no other way to get his leg out of the way. He may sometimes go looking for it. But this occasion wasn't one of them.

This happened to Ruud Van Nistlerooy against Arsenal about ten years ago. Patrick Vieira went in, studs up, and Ruud jumped out of the way. Everyone said he was trying to get Vieira sent off, or that he was pretending Vieira had made contact when he hadn't.

All the criticism was just as misplaced as yours James. If van Nistlerooy hadn't got out of the way he probably would have had a broken leg. If someone throws a punch at you, see what your body does naturally, and then reconsider your opinion of Gareth Bale.

Despite disagreeing, I enjoyed your blog. A good topic I think!
DerBomber (Real Madrid) 4 years ago
I think the answer is pretty clear if you look back to the 1980s and 1990s. Diving was pretty rare then, and it was equally difficult to get a foul called in your favour. Nowadays, players are excessively protected, and for some reason, they get injured alot more often than players did back then. It wasn't uncommon for a studs up challenge to be ignored by the referees in the past, but even then, nasty injuries weren't common either.

Somehow, we have to accept that we're a soft generation, and the slightest of contact is too much. And with that, comes the changing of the rules. No longer do referees allow hard challenges to go unpunished. Personally I don't like it this way, but it's your call. Football used to be a contact sport (with all the crazy tackles which will no longer be tolerated in the modern game), these days, it doesn't feel that way anymore

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