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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Nothing irritates me more than diving. Seriously, it's right up there above noisy eating, people who play tinny R'n'B through their cellphones on the bus and that invisible scratch on my West Wing DVD that smashes straight through the important bit ten minutes into every episode when you're trying to figure out what's going on. Diving churns my stomach into a frothing storm of acid and bile. A professional athlete hurling himself to the ground to cheat the referee, to secure a fraudulent and poisoned victory for his team? It makes me rage like a loon. Retrospective banning orders? No, it's not harsh enough, I want more. I want these monsters pistol-whipped in front of their families.

UEFA had a chance this week to stamp it out but, as they tend to in these situations, they screwed it up. Instead of aiming for the source of the problem, they went for its public face, or at least the face it wears in public this week. Eduardo has been hung out to dry; branded as a cheat for all to see, but what will that achieve? It's all so ludicrously arbitrary. If the game hadn't been televised on a terrestrial channel on both sides of the border, no-one in the UK would have noticed. If the game hadn't been so quiet, no journalist would have fixated on the dive in the newspapers. The fact is that Eduardo's freefall was the only interesting incident in a relatively boring game. Everyone saw it, everyone wanted to talk about it and the resulting media pressure pushed it into UEFA's lap.

There's a strange kind of xenophobia in British football, a redundant belief that cheating is the exclusive domain of Johnny Foreigner. Absolute bobbins. This weekend saw Wayne Rooney commence his final descent long before Manuel Almunia touched him, but was anything said? Steven Gerrard, talisman of Liverpool and darling of the press, is a serial diver for club and country, a trick he probably learnt from Michael Owen, the undisputed master of the gentle tumble. The English, far from being paragons of virtue, are every bit as devious as everyone else.

The deception rule that UEFA used to beat Eduardo over the head with is so obscure that it's hardly ever invoked, so let's get that changed. There are legions of UEFA suits at every Champions League game, there are fourth officials, fifth officials, referee's assessors. There are media experts and former players crammed up to the rafters. Why not employ one person to sit there watching the TV and noting down the dubious dives? Then they can forward it to a panel of experts and make a firm, fair decision on every single game. Let's have a one match ban for every dive, with no upper limit on the suspension. Three dives? You miss three games. Granted, Emmanuel Eboue could effectively end his own career within 90 minutes, but them's the breaks We can do the same in the Premier League as well. They already have a Dubious Goals panel in existence. Why not pay them a little extra and ask them to look at the dives as well?

Diving is widespread because it carries great rewards and it's very difficult to spot in real-time, but we have the technology, the time and the resources to end it now. The fact that we're not, and that we're singling out individuals for these witch-hunts, is even more infuriating than the crime itself.
 
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