October 16th, 2012
03:28 PM ET

High time for football to stop the flops?

Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been accused of diving by other English Premier League managers.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been accused of diving by other English Premier League managers.

I thought FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce was out of line when he compared diving in football with cancer. Mostly because I don’t think anything in football should be compared with a deadly disease. However, I believe he touched on an important issue because cheating is by far the biggest problem the game needs to fix.

I come from southern Europe and I have been putting up with it for decades. Players diving, rolling around the floor, complaining, time wasting.

The phenomenon has grown and expanded to other leagues around the planet. Nowadays, many if not most players will do anything in order to try to gain an advantage on the field.

With fans becoming increasingly frustrated by what many consider to be cheating, the time has come for football authorities to do something about it. These play-acting antics are hurting the image of the sport around the world.

I would introduce two measures which would go a long way to eradicating this behavior. The first would be to do what the National Basketball Association (NBA) has done in the United States: introduce retroactive penalties for players who dive.

They call it the “no flopping rule”. From this season onwards, NBA officials will look at video footage of all games and decide whether anyone “flopped”, or fell without direct physical contact.

If they find a particular player is guilty, he will be given a warning. The second time he does it, he gets a $5,000 fine. Then $10,000, $15,000 and so on until a point arrives where he receives a suspension. Simple and effective.

In my mind, FIFA should be talking to NBA officials to examine how they could apply this concept to international football. Furthermore, soccer’s governing body should give national associations and their leagues the green light to introduce something similar regionally or locally.

The second measure I would introduce would be the “five-minute penalty”. I am sick and tired of watching players pretending they are injured and being stretchered off the field only to recover miraculously and rejoin the action seconds later.

The solution? Make players who come off the field stay on the sidelines for five minutes. Why? Well, if they are seriously injured they would need that amount of time to recover. If they aren’t, then they would have to wait on the sidelines knowing that their team are down to 10 men.

The introduction of this rule would surely cut down on time-wasting. Managers would start telling players to stop faking injuries knowing that their team’s chances of winning would be hampered by playing a man down for various periods during a game.

In theory, these measures would work. The problem is convincing the decision-makers to change the rules. I’ve talked to UEFA President Michel Platini about the “five minute penalty” a few times and he actually liked the idea. However, he told me it would be very difficult to put it in effect.

I guess the overall problem is one of mentality. While the commissioners of leagues and competitions in the United States make changes to rules and regulations to make their respective sports more attractive to fans, football bosses make decisions according to the game’s doctrine and tradition.

Let’s face it, unless that mentality changes, and we have forward-thinking people in decision-making positions, then not that much, if anything, is going to change.

And then one day, the beautiful game, won’t be that beautiful any more.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. jumpingpolarbear

    Some times it is hard to see the difference, but the referees should punish holding and diving much more than they do today!

    October 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  2. Rick

    I like your idea of going back and looking at video, liek the NBA. However, I think someone should be given a yellow card rather than a fine

    October 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  3. Osazee

    Perfect. It will go a long way in installing discipline amongst players.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  4. Killian

    I totally agree that something be done about diving, as its destroying the game.

    First of all though we need managers to come out and condemn their own players for diving and not just opposition players.

    Kind of similar to Pedro's idea, but having a panel of 5 people review games were there is believed to be diving should hand out bans if anyone is found guilty. No fines, as it doesn't affect footballers, who earn big salaries, but introduce a 2 game ban a first, then a 3 game ban if he does it a second time and then him with a 5 game ban after a 3rd strike.

    I also like the idea of a 5 minute penalty perhaps it will make people think twice about diving.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  5. Jimmy

    Hi Pedro, the Australian A-League already has such a system for video review, as does the Scottish League.

    Players may be suspended but no competition points or goals may be deducted as a result of a diving penalty, free kick leading to a goal.

    Unfortunately, FIFA have little reform agenda as has been displayed with goal-line technology. Surely, something as simple as reviewing incidents involving diving won't take a decade to implement!

    October 17, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  6. Hamilton

    the 5 min is too complicated and not easy to find out when the player is really hurt or simple if he is faking, regarding the paying of fine if a player was caught faking, it wont be be easy to implement because the amount of money spent at each competition are completely different, the amount of money a player get in Europe is not the same amount in Africa
    I guess the best solution if one of the team feels that the players from the opponent team were faking and wasting time, they could appeal and if found guilt the decision should be taken before the guilt team play their next game
    the decision could be:
    punishing the individual players
    punishing the whole team, for instance they could play the game on a different stadium or without the support from their fans
    as long as it is something that makes them feel that their are losing something because of the players misbehave

    October 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  7. KevinT

    Make it 15 minutes on the side lines and I am with you on that one.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  8. Uwhat?

    I've heard the 5 minute "time out" suggestion before and I like it as it could be applied to "injuries/offenses" in all areas of the field, but how about this as a specific deterrent to flopping in the box? Abolish spot-kicks for fouls in the penalty area! Not penalties for handball or the penalty shoot-out, the latter of which is a valid tiebreaker, but penalties during regulation and extra time resulting from fouls. Obviously, the majority of diving takes place in the box in an attempt to earn an uncontested shot on goal. We hear players talking about "winning a penalty". You're not supposed to "win" a penalty, it's supposed to be awarded for an infringement in which you, as an innocent victim, played no active part. Therefore the rules are currently being abused because players realize that the potential reward justifies the risk of punishment. In short, they play the odds, gambling on refs being fooled by the dive more times than they spot a simulation. Clearly, allowing players to engineer a penalty is not what the rule-makers intended, so react accordingly. By abolishing penalties for fouls it would make it more costly to the offensive team to dive in a promising attacking situation as it would give the defending team the chance to re-group and get more players behind the ball. The incentive to stay on your feet would therefore become stronger than the benefits of going down. The result - less diving. And before anyone says "no pens for fouls'" would encourage cynical fouling by the defensive team, let me say a foul in the box would still result in a direct free kick in a dangerous area, and the red card rule for denying a goal-scoring opportunity would still be in operation. The only difference would be that defenders would no longer be afraid to tackle for fear of conceding a penalty and almost certain goal as a result of an untouched forward falling like a drunken sailor on stilts. And that would be a good thing.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  9. Sambal Oelek

    I like the NBA idea and the rule would be welcomed by me in a FIFA context. Furthermore I am looking forward to the implementation of goal-line technology. All the above will help the beautiful game in its current miserable state of affairs. However one of the issues I can foresee with the flop rule is the retroactive punishment clause. In a semi-final, final or any other big game would you as a player not be willing to pay the fine if it meant getting the penalty and winning a big game? Also the size of the fines are ridiculously low for any top tier European League and over the top for any other minor (African) league, so that will need to be looked at. The NBA has an advantage since there are generally uniform conditions for its players. I am even sure football clubs would somehow reimburse a player if it means he wins them for instance a champions league knock out game! Anyway the idea is a start, I do hope it gets introduced, but there are still flaws in it. The NBA will discover this very shortly, lets see how they do with it... Its funny they have to be the innovative ones. Flopping is pratically a recent European import (starting with Vlade Divac etc) in the NBA. After a decade and a half they are dealing with it, while football remains in denial. Unfortunately European insistence on traditions are bringing down the game and sabotaging the integrity of the beautiful game by the very same people who are meant to protect it.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:45 am | Reply
  10. GPat

    "Let’s face it, unless that mentality changes, and we have forward-thinking people in decision-making positions, then not that much, if anything, is going to change."

    Two good practical solutions that work in handball and other sports. However, strange conclusion there Pedro. Forward-thinking means agreeing with your views, it seems. Platini has proved to be open to suggestions and innovations (back pass to goal keeper, video replays). Tradition is important in football (unfortunately footballers do not always abide by those traditions).

    You should have said hopefully, the ideas will catch up...

    October 22, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply
  11. Nishath

    I totally agree with it. Diving does not need to be a part of the game. Alot of young players when entering the leagues they start diving since no one stops them or tells them its rights. I dont want my kid to grow up thinking its a good thing to cheat in Football Matches.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:55 am | Reply
  12. Faz

    I agree with pedro on the issues but implementing them will create two other problems that we are trying to eradicate. the flow of football and its fluency are the best aspect of the game. NBA has time outs and game pauses that will allow for video replay. one would say ok we can punish players for diving after the game but this means we will have to have more refs or a special committees that will look at these incidents.

    the other problem with faking is if i get injured and i shake it off after 2-3 minutes do i get punished for it by waiting 2 minutes. most injuries are knocks that get better as the player shakes it off on the field so it might be unfair to injured players. but i see where your coming from

    October 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  13. momo

    i think this is the right thing to do now before it is too late to introduce it

    October 29, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
  14. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    In the good old days diving was unheard of. Falling was fatal. Football playing surfaces used to be hard. Any accidental fall brought about some form of injury, bruises and even disability. Place in the playing eleven used to be in jeopardy.

    Now a days the ground realities are superb. Curators and groundsmen work overtime preparing the pitch, mowing the grass and making conditions ideal for footballers to show case their sublime talents.

    But some of our footballing heroes make a mockery of this wonderful opportunity. Instead of showcasing their expertise they come to the field well prepared to fall and heroically roll on the grass.

    They wait for the whistle to get up triumphantly and immediately start plotting their next downfall. Their going down in style is shaking the belief of the faithful in the Beautiful Game.

    November 11, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
  15. Williwins

    Find both ideas worth consideration....real soon I'd say.

    Also red card every elbow to the head. There are too many broken cheekbones and noses these days in the German leagues.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  16. aman

    must say most cnn football articles are relevant and intelligently written.only complain is that that they should give more weightage to football in electronic media

    November 14, 2012 at 7:26 am | Reply
  17. RYAN

    There is no way that Luis Suarez is a diver. He just plays hard

    November 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  18. mohamoud

    i think its a waste time。how long does it take to watch in replay,They should put side ref to watch and inform the ref in case of penalty diving and wrong card。

    December 9, 2012 at 6:32 am | Reply
  19. tracylake2002

    Suarez a great talented and dedicated player for team Liverpool and Uruguay. I saw the match.It was really wrong card and Suarez must get the penalty.However it is a wrong decision by the referee.

    December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply

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