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Is Cheating and Diving endemic in soccer?

The sight of young, extremely fit, well tuned soccer players writhing in agony after being fouled, assaulted, accosted and half-killed by an opponent is extremely distressing.

The look of agony etched on their faces following such an 'attack' is enough to make me feel nauseous.

They fall down at the slightest touch or contact and remain there sometimes until either the ball has gone out of play or some poor unsuspecting referee decides that they have suffered enough and it’s time to call in the medical cavalry.

So on come the medics, apply the 'magic sponge' and spray, and wallah - a miraculous recovery is witnessed.

So how can that be?

• Is there some kind of super-duper magical substance in the sponge or spray that returns mobility and strength to what appeared to be a life-threatening tackle or foul?

• Are the people who apply these sponges and sprays some kind of miracle-worker that can heal with enormous speed?

• Or is it all fake from the start and the players are performing to their audience to the detriment of the sport and their club, who pay them lots of lolly in the process?

The answer probably can be found in the last of the above sentences.

We are all aware that football is a multi-million Dollar/Pound/Rand industry today. The salaries of some of the top players is eye-watering. It can run into seven figures per month in some instances.

Some are very well paid for the work that they do. They live in expensive houses, drive top of the range vehicles, and splash their wealth around as if there is no tomorrow.

That’s all fine and well – I don’t have a problem with that. And just in case you think that I might be a bit jealous of their success – I’m not. Good luck to them if they can negotiate a contract for that sort of money.

What bothers me most of all is the play-acting that they get up to when on the field of play. Its well known that soccer today is not a sport any more – it’s a business, and a very lucrative and profitable one for some clubs.

For others it’s a major monetary concern and has led certain clubs down a road to almost financial ruin in their pursuit of success.

I have noticed a certain improvement in the behaviour or some players in certain leagues, but not in others.

Fifa recently instructed their referees to put a stop to this practice and it has been partly successful in the Premier League in England. It’s still very prevalent in some of the Spanish games I’ve watched and it makes me sick to my stomach.

So who’s responsible for allowing this to happen?

At the end of the day it’s our fault – the referees.

We have the power to stop it. We have the solutions to stamp it out and we’re not doing it.

In the EPL I have noticed instances where players fall down and the referee decides that no foul was committed and waves play on. The 'fouled' player soon gets to his feet and returns to action.

I’m also convinced that some managers/coaches encourage their players to engage in this behaviour in order to gain an advantage for their team. It’s very prevalent in or around the penalty area whereby a player attempts to get a free-kick or penalty kick for his team which could mean the difference between winning and losing.

There is no other word to describe this kind of behaviour except CHEATING. Open, blatant, very obvious CHEATING.

So long as players are allowed to get away with it, they will continue to do it. There is also precedence for players who indulge in this behaviour to be booked and, if already booked, then red carded.

More of this decisive action by referees is called for if we are to clean up 'the beautiful game'.

Appeal to Referees

So my appeal to all referees out there is to be strong and don’t be fooled by such antics. Your gut feeling will tell you whether a foul has been committed or not. Act on your gut feeling because generally it is correct.

Sometimes you’ll get it wrong, but that’s part of the game, so long as your decision is truthful and honest to the best of your ability.

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