If there’s an issue that most football fans can rally behind, it’s that it’s far, far too easy to get away with diving in the modern game. It’s reached the point where strikers, for example, are encouraged by the rules of the game (or, more accurately, lack of punishment) to simulate in order to pick up a penalty or to get an opponent booked.
Now, thanks to the Football Association new rules will be in place that will retroactively ban simulation and match official deception that results in a penalty or an opposition player being sent off. The new rules will allow for retrospective review of an incident of “successful deception of a match official.”
Should a panel decide that the incident shows clear and unambiguous deception and the incident was not caught by the match official or his assistants, the panel will be able to issue a retrospective two match ban. If, however, the offending player was issued a booking for deception, the decision cannot be reviewed. Red and yellow cards would be rescinded for players who were sent off thanks to deception.
ESPN had a little fun in the wake of this announcement, posting a video of egregious dives from last year’s Premier League season. And while this was a lot of fun to watch, many of these incidents would not fall under these new rules since the bulk of them were caught by the official and the player was issued a booking for simulation.
However, there are numerous incidents every season where players clearly dive in the box and get away with it. Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli had one of those incidents that led to a penalty in a 5-0 rout over Swansea City last December. (Yes, he totally dove, it’s okay to admit it.) Should these rules have been in effect, it’s quite probable that Dele would’ve been issued a two match ban, and he would’ve deserved it.
I’m okay with these rules, so long as they are adjudicated fairly. The impetus is on retroactively punishing players who seem to have gotten away with it, but it allows the match official to do his job. It also leaves enough wiggle-room that there needs to be indisputable evidence of simulation for the retroactive punishment.
Nobody likes a flop in football, even when it results in positive things for your chosen team. It might even lead to (gasp) players deciding to stay upright when challenged in the box, like Vincent Janssen did in the match against AS Roma in New Jersey.
The new rules could be rolled out to additional leagues in the future if they are successful and if FIFA decides to take up the cause. I, for one, would love to see what would happen with these rules in place in Italy and Spain.