Div­ing bored

Time to change penalty laws?

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

YEARS ago the word ‘dive’ only had a ten­u­ous foot­ball con­nec­tion by re­fer­ring to the seedy nightspot you might end up in after a Satur­day af­ter­noon at the match and the evening on a pub crawl.

Th­ese days, how­ever, div­ing is a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue and some Premier League stars, such as Manch­ester United’s Ash­ley Young, have gained a rep­u­ta­tion as se­rial of­fend­ers.

There’s no doubt that fans hate play­ers cheat­ing in this way. There’s no doubt, too, that ref­er­ees have an almost im­pos­si­ble task in de­cid­ing in a split sec­ond if an at­tacker has been fouled or has over-drama­tised his clash with a de­fender.

Even pun­dits with mul­ti­ple slow-mo re­plays can’t work out if there’s been a gen­uine foul or a less-than-gen­uine act to gain an ad­van­tage.

Ad­vo­cates of video tech­nol­ogy might ad­mit that halt­ing play to work out what hap­pened would, in the case of div­ing, cre­ate more prob­lems than it solved.

Clearly the re­wards, es­pe­cially in the Premier League, are mas­sive. Nick­ing a goal to creep into a Euro­pean spot or climb out of the rel­e­ga­tion places can earn a club and its play­ers mil­lions.

Man­agers and coaches are bound to want to seek out ev­ery way of gain­ing an ad­van­tage and their play­ers are, too.

Throw­ing your­self down in the penalty area has crept into the game and there doesn’t

seem to be any way to stop it. When scor­ing in open play is so dif­fi­cult, then get­ting a penalty can be a god­send – even if you don’t de­serve it.

Even bet­ter if you are awarded a penalty and the op­pos­ing player gets an early bath.

Maybe it isn’t just the act of div­ing the foot­ball au­thor­i­ties need to con­cen­trate on to solve the prob­lem.

In sport, just like in life, the adage ‘the pun­ish­ment should fit the crime’ is pretty much uni­ver­sally ac­cepted.

So if a golfer drives his ball into a lake, he or she isn’t pe­nalised a dra­co­nian num­ber of shots. A bats­man who runs a run short has it de­ducted from his score; he doesn’t have to make the slow de­press­ing walk back to the pavil­ion.

Look­ing at of­fences in the penalty area dur­ing matches in the flesh or on tele­vi­sion, you can prob­a­bly safely as­sume that if they hadn’t oc­curred and play had con­tin­ued a goal prob­a­bly wouldn’t have fol­lowed.

The at­tack­ing player might have been near the goal-line or even go­ing away from goal. Alexis Sanchez was fouled in the penalty area in a re­cent Arse­nal game as he ran with the ball to­wards the side-line.

Com­mit the foul though or, in the case of div­ing, suf­fer the sight of an at­tacker fall­ing as if felled by a weapon, and your op­po­nents have an un­op­posed shot at goal from 12 yards.

This gives them an 80 to 90 per cent chance of scor­ing. Lit­tle won­der then when you can con­vince a ref­eree you’ve been wronged even when you haven’t. Man­agers and play­ers don’t rule out any­thing if they can get a real ben­e­fit from it.

So per­haps the penalty laws need to be looked at, not just the of­fences, le­git­i­mate or oth­er­wise, that lead to them.

Maybe, although dif­fi­cult, changes can be made so that the penalty area pun­ish­ment fits the penalty area crime.

A shot at goal in the 18-yard box but from fur­ther away than the cur­rent penalty spot might be a fairer out­come for a foul com­mit­ted only just inside the penalty area.

Keep the cur­rent rule for an of­fence nearer than that. Draw an arc inside the box to de­fine the two.

Who knows, I cer­tainly don’t, but at least let’s have the de­bate. Foot­ball fans are fed up with cheat­ing.

There doesn’t ap­pear to be any like­li­hood that play­ers are go­ing to stop claim­ing ev­ery­thing. They’ll carry on try­ing to get one over their fel­low pro­fes­sion­als and con­ning ref­er­ees when the re­wards are so great.

So let’s see if we can change the one anom­aly where an of­fence, some­times false, is pe­nalised so heav­ily. Then play­ers might think that stay­ing on their feet and cre­at­ing a gen­uine chance on goal is the best op­tion.

Manch­ester United’s Ash­ley Young take sa tum­ble over Tot­ten­ham keeper Hugo Lloris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.