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Gareth Bale And Diving: Is It A Problem?

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Bale is spending more time on the turf than he needs to, but is it a problem?
Bale is spending more time on the turf than he needs to, but is it a problem?

On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur got a penalty and their second goal against Arsenal thanks to a Gareth Bale dive. Or maybe it wasn't a dive. It's not exactly clear, but it was clear that Bale was looking to go down. Looking to go down is in no way a crime and maybe he was clipped so it was a definite penalty. At this point, whether he was clipped or not is unimportant.

We've reached a point where Bale is getting a reputation as a diver. He has dived before with absolutely zero contact. He's gone down with minimal contact. He's gone down with a lot of contact. In almost every situation, though, he's looking to go down.

This evolution to Bale "the diver" has come in large part to the beating he has taken. Since he emerged as one of the world's best wingers who puts the fear of god into right backs all over England and Europe, he had been hacked at time and time again. Some of the fouls were called and others weren't, but they all left a mark. He was mauled and there is no way of getting around that.

Bale's diving could be traced back to the beating that he took. He went down easily to avoid the hard tackles. He went down to draw attention from the referee. He went down reflexively because the last five fouls hurt. Whatever. The point is that we have gotten to a point where Bale is a diver, whether we like it or not.

The question at hand is whether Bale's diving is a problem. It worked in Spurs' favor on Sunday because he got a penalty from it and it has worked before to get free kicks in times when there was no doubt that it was a dive. He has also gone down when there was minimal contact and not gotten the foul, killing what was a promising attack or goalscoring opportunity. He is also going to reach a point (presumably) where the referees are aware of his diving and no longer give him the benefit of the doubt on calls.

There is no point in getting into a debate about whether you like or dislike diving and if you don't think Bale dives then take your white and blue glasses off because it's not really even a debate. From a pure footballing standpoint, is Bale's diving going to hurt him more than it will help him soon? Is it a problem not in your heart or in the standing of the club, but in scoring more goals than the other team? It's something to consider not just when he wins a penalty on a shaky call, but also when a break stalls because Bale goes down and the ref just tells him to get up.