Two big incidents in the last ten days of the English Premier League have raised the issue of diving again. Last week Liverpool's Luis Suarez Liverpool was criticised throughout the world when he threw himself to the ground, asking for a penalty against Stoke City. Suarez is well known for his theatrics on the football ground, and it didn't come as a surprise for those who have been following him for some time.
But the second incident where Spurs' winger Gareth Bale dived on the ground without having any physical contact with Villa's goalkeeper Brad Guzan was even more dreadful. Though FIFA's vice president, Jim Boyce, after watching the highlights of the match described diving as "cancer within the game", FIFA has hardly taken any strict action against the ‘divers’ in recent times.
The rise in the number of diving incidents in the last few years has affected English football, which is known for its fair and clean game. Diving was never a popular practice in English football as it was in Latin-American clubs, where it was a very common part of the game. Former Chelsea and Norway striker Tore Andre Flo also blamed foreign players for bringing the diving culture into the EPL.
There have been numerous occasions where some great players were seen falling on the ground unnecessarily. Some of these will be remembered, such as Sergio Busquets’s dive. While playing against Manchester United, he tugged Nani's shirt to get past him, then dived on the ground trying to win a free kick. Going a little back in the history one of the worst dives was seen during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, when Brazilian star Rivaldo during a match against Turkey gets hit in the knee with the ball and fells down on the ground holding his face and the Turkish player gets a sent off.
If the governing bodies are serious on solving the menace of diving then it should be seen in the same way as dangerous tackles that can cause injury to an opponent. Whenever a player is caught doing a dangerous tackle it's a straight red card and the player is banned for three games. The same thing should be applied to anyone falling on the ground unnecessarily and asking for a penalty. Stoke City manager Tony Pulis had earlier called for the Football Association (FA) to punish players found guilty of diving with a three-match ban. If a player dives to get his team an advantage, whether it's to earn a free-kick or a penalty, sometimes his opponent is sent off.
Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Danny Welbeck and Didier Drogba, who are among the best strikers in football, were also accused of diving. Unless the FA decides to make some strict penalties for the players found guilty of diving, such incidents will become a common practice in the EPL and blaming foreign players won’t help in solving this problem.