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To dive or not to dive? Thanks, Andre Marriner

Nov 12, 2013, 8:10 AM EDT

Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

There’s no debating it – Andre Marriner’s penalty decision against Steven Reid last Saturday was disgraceful.

Ramires leaned into the West Brom full-back and began to go down before the “contact” ensued. The Brazilian knew what he was doing and, to his credit, did it well. But Reid’s arms were by his side and his path of travel was straight. For me, this was Marriner succumbing to the pressure of Jose Mourinho.

What really deserves attention, however, is not whether or not it was a penalty but whether or not players should dive in the area.

On the face of the topic the answer is obvious: no. Absolutely not.

But what about referees who refuse to call penalties when players don’t go down? It happens more than we think.

Tottenham winger Erik Lamela was a victim of the non-call in the first-half of last Thursday’s 2-1 win over FC Sheriff in the Europa League.

source: Getty Images

Erik Lamela, seconds before Djibril Paye fouled him in the box. Lamela failed to go down and the ref failed to award the penalty.

The Argentine beat his man clean off the dribble and the defender’s flail was enough to put Lamela off-balance and lose possession, but not enough to make him go down. It was a sure-fire penalty that, had Lamela gone down (dove), surely would have been called. Instead, Danish referee Kenn Hansen stayed quiet.

The moment was not lost on Lamela, who, enjoying the best game of his young Spurs career broke into the box in the 66th minute and was again knicked at by an awkward tackle.

This time Lamela made no mistake about it, tumbling to ground in a heap of penalty goodness. Hansen had no choice but to point to the spot and within a minute Jermain Defoe converted his record breaking 23rd European goal for Tottenham.

The above lesson is strong evidence of why notorious penalty divers like Ashley Young (and, apparently Ramires) exist – because it works. And sometimes, as in the case of Lamela, it’s absolutely necessary.

So the debate continues. To dive or not to dive?

  1. lostangelino - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    You want to stop it? One word FINES! In US no matter what ref calls on field, review boards look at incidents and have option to levy fines and suspensions. So BPL grow a pair and start handing down suspensions and watch what happens.

  2. dfstell - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    I think you’re absolutely right. This is a refereeing problem. One problem is that they are rewarding dives. The other is that they aren’t calling fouls (much less penalties) where the player stays on his feet.

    It’s really absurd. Just go watch a recreational game on Sunday afternoon with a bunch of older, non-professional adults. There is a lot of fouling because players have poor(er) timing and technique, but almost nobody going down. The only reason these guys go down is because they’re hoping to get calls.

  3. supercoop8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Fines, retroactive cards are good supplemental discipline but the referees need to set precedent early in every game and throw up the yellow at the first instant. It has to be commonly dealt with for the the risk to outweigh the reward.

    But also if the Premier League can change their culture does that weaken their teams in the Champions and Europa league to which La Liga participants will slip into a coma at smallest contact?

    • supercoop8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 9:15 AM

      *instance

    • renhoekk2 - Nov 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      I don’t think BPL player will “forget” how to dive come Champions League play. I’m pretty sure it’s something they can turn off and on when needed.

      • supercoop8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        “Forgetting” how to dive wasn’t really my point; but once diving is treated harshly that physical play will subsequently go up, which is harder to shut off come Champions League. Forfeiting too many free kicks from mid-range will eventually be punishing by any CL team.

        I think the point segues into whether or not diving is ever dealt with as a pandemic at league and international level. I know that I get frustrated watching Dempsey play for the USMNT when he starts keeling over at every brush.

  4. SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    You give each manager one challenge to review it on instant replay and all your cards and suspensions are irrelevant. Players will begin to play more honest when their acting can be seen by millions over and over rather than one guy from across the pitch.

  5. talgrath - Nov 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    I think part of the problem is that referees are reluctant to hand out punishment for simulation because its an automatic yellow and if they get it wrong the press and the league will complain. If you hand out a yellow to a player you think took a dive, and it later turns out they have a real injury, the press will absolutely roast you and you’ll probably hear complaints from the league; you might not get a job in that league for a very long time, if ever. The potential backlash from that “simulation” yellow far outweigh the costs, so referees only hand them out on what they feel are very obvious dives.

  6. Brian - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    I think the referees could do a better job of tracking players who dive a lot and stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. Make it so that someone like Suarez or Ashley Young has to be dragged down by the hair before you call it in his favor. Word would get around the league before too long.

  7. some1kj - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Andre Marriner’s penalty award was right on the money. It does not much of a contact to throw a guy of his balance when he is in full flight heading for goal. If any of you played the game, you will have recognized that.

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