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FIFA President Sepp Blatter: Divers should get in-game time penalty

Jan 3, 2014, 7:20 AM EDT

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Over the years FIFA President Sepp Blatter has come up with some pretty barking mad ideas, but is his latest scheme actually a winner?

Blatter, 77, is apparently sick and tired of players diving and feigning injury and then returning straight back to the field of play when they’re team has won a free kick or another kind of advantage.

So what can be done about it? Blatter thinks he has the solution and as we’ve come to expect from him, it’s radical.

“I find it deeply irritating, when the half-dead player comes back to life as soon as they have left the pitch,” Blatter said in his weekly column on “The referee can make the player wait until the numerical disadvantage has had an effect on the game. In practical terms, this is a time penalty and it could cause play-actors to rethink.”

What do we think?

I actually like this plan and think that Blatter is onto something, however this may be pretty difficult to referee as the middle-man must be purely focused on what’s going on around him on the pitch, instead of instructing a host of players standing on the sidelines whether or not they can re-enter. But, I guess that’s what the fourth official is there for, so he can look after the divers and make sure they spend an appropriate time off the field, which could end up hurting their side as they’ll be a man short.

(MORE: After Ashley Young’s dive, should simulation get a straight-red?)

Just look at the past week in the Premier League for example, as Adnan Januzaj, Oscar and plenty of other top players have been called up for diving and shown a yellow card. Those are just odd occasions when a player is punished though, as more often than not the trainer is called on or a free kick is given for simulation. This play-acting needs to be stamped out, I’m with you Sepp.

How do you differentiate between a player faking injury and a genuine one? That’s a whole other can of worms entirely, but if a player has to spend say, two minutes on the sidelines every time he goes down injured and ‘needs treatment’ then players would soon start getting back on their feet and the game would keep flowing.

Don’t we all hate it when diving and theatrics take over the show? I know I do. Soccer is about watching 22 men battling it out and using their fitness, skill and brains to win. Not seeing who can con the referee more into sneaking a victory. Quite frankly too much of the latter has been going on for some time now.

It’s time for a change, and a time penalty for divers could be the right way to do.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    Can ‘con’, mate.

    There’s simulation in BPL? I’d hardly noticed. 😉

  2. unclemosesgreen - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    In all seriousness though, this would be a welcome change but I still don’t feel it’s anywhere near as pressing an issue as diving.

    A yellow for obvious simulation is a small step in the right directions but doesn’t do enough to balance the risk/reward in play. Your idea for a straight red isn’t bad, but may go a bit too far in the other direction.

    Over the course of a season, 5 yellows is not a lot, but carries a suspension. I would argue that 3 yellows for simulation over the course of a season is a huge number, and players should get a one-game suspension for 2 “simulation yellows” without restarting the clock on a 5-yellow suspension. At least that would give more weight to the penalty and stick in the back of a player’s mind once he had a single booking for egregious diving.

  3. geojock - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    We cant add something else for the ref to worry about. Soccer refs are already at a horrible disadvantage, the last thing we need to to is add something else. Similar to above, i think there should be post match penalties that way they can be truly evaluated. You get 2 or 3 or whatever number of diving warnings then you are suspended. It might not have the teeth of something in game, but it still makes a difference to know someone is watching.

  4. dfstell - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    I kinda like the idea of a sin-bin or a hockey style penalty box.

    So much of what is wrong with soccer is because the referees have lousy tools for managing the game. All they really have are yellow/red cards and penalty kicks.

    I think it would be nice to have a more refined tool for refs so that they can send a player off for a shorter period of time. That way they don’t have to “ruin the game” by awarding a penalty or sending someone off in the 15th minute. It should apply to all fouls, not just diving and penalty kick situations.

    I’ll bet that if referees had this more subtle tool, you’d see diving stop AND then we’d stop having all these preposterous claims for penalties because someone tripped at the corner of the box.

    Also, anyone who has played soccer for more than 5 minutes knows that these guys go down really, really easily. The old, fat 50 year olds in my rec league stay on their feet better than these world-class athletes.

  5. term3186 - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    This isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s still a good one. But I like 5 minutes, not 2. The referee isn’t really impacted, he doesn’t have to worry about it. The 4th official can monitor this. There is no need to differentiate between a player faking an injury and a player with a genuine injury. If a player is actually injured to the point a trainer needs to be summoned, surely he’ll need those 5 minutes to recuperate. If a player is faking it, consider the 5 minutes a penalty.

  6. happylars - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    I’m with the idea of 5 minutes. Two is too quick. It drives me crazy when these things happen. And may I suggest another rash idea: move a penalty kick back 3 yards. Give the goalies more than a guessing chance at saving.

  7. midtec2005 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    I think that Sepp Blatter thinks we are all a bunch of simple tools.

    He keeps suggesting these Mickey Mouse rules, when everyone knows the solution is retroactive suspensions. He isn’t serious about fixing the problem.

  8. danielofthedale - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    If a defender pulls down an attacker in a clear goal scoring chance it’s a straight red. If a player dives in the box to great a clear goal scoring chance (the PK) and getting a player from the other side red carded that player diving should get a straight red card. These are the opposite sides of the same coin. If players knew they might get a red card for cheating instead of a mere yellow that might make them think twice.

    As for the players who act like they were mowed down on the beaches of Normandy, if a stretcher comes on the field for said player, that player is not allowed back on the field and must be subbed out or the team must play down a man for the remainder of the game.

    • Sgc - Jan 5, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Meh, a handball that denies a goal is a red, while a handball that creates a goal is a yellow (or often just an ordinary foul). That’s nothing new or to my mind scandalous. In a sport where goals are so few and far between, it seems to make sense that unfairly denying one is the most egregious offense.

  9. inhisgripgolf31 - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    In the U10 league my son plays in if the coach comes on the field then the player has to be subbed out. So if the medical staff comes out why not require at least two minutes off the pitch?

    • Sgc - Jan 5, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      Might have a side benefit, too, in situations like Hugo Lloris’s concussion. If, as a coach, you have a guy who *is* hurt, and you are considering putting him back in there, knowing he’d have to be out 5 minutes anyway might convince you to do what you ought to have done to begin with.

  10. mikeevergreen - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Hockey has a penalty box, doesn’t it? Why not soccer?

  11. talgrath - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    I’d say this is a good idea regardless of whether or not the player is diving. Have the fourth official (that tracks game time) keep track of when the player is allowed back on the pitch. If a player is injured enough that staff have to come on the field, have them assess them for at least two minutes, this could also take care of any concussion concerns; run them through the concussion test while they are at it. That way if someone was actually fouled but really hammed it up, they have to go through the assessment and if someone really is injured they get a proper, full look from the training staff.

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