Officials should take the plunge on diving

HEADED FOR THE TURF: Sydney FC’s Sebastian Ryall gets tackled by Melbourne Victory’s Jason Geria in Sydney last Saturday, costing the visitors a penalty.
HEADED FOR THE TURF: Sydney FC’s Sebastian Ryall gets tackled by Melbourne Victory’s Jason Geria in Sydney last Saturday, costing the visitors a penalty. Aap

WHEN is a dive not a dive?

That was the question on the mind of many football fans this week as the spectre of simulation again came back to haunt the beautiful game.

On opposite sides of the world, pundits, former players, fans and officials were torn on the subject after incidents involving Manchester United star Wayne Rooney in an FA Cup match and Sydney FC's Sebastian Ryall in the A-League.

And after a week of arguments, no one is really any wiser on whether either or both took a tumble to try to gain an advantage.

In each case the actions resulted in a penalty for their teams.

My opinion after looking at both incidents several times is that Rooney and Ryall did indeed take a fall.

Of course, I am not the only one who has struggled to tell whether Rooney and Ryall dived. Both referees - Phil Dowd in England and Stebre Delovski in Australia - gave spot kicks, but as always they got only one look.

The pundits have been divided on the issue.

Even Preston North End manager Simon Grayson admitted Rooney did not simulate, but he qualified that by saying he thought there was no contact and it wasn't a penalty.

FFA's disciplinary committee took just 10 minutes to rule that in the 3-3 draw with Melbourne Victory, Ryall did not take a dive.

But that only came about after Sydney FC produced previously unseen video evidence that indicated he had clipped the ankle of Gui Finkler, who was looking the other way, before going to ground.

I have no problem with that ruling but I do have a problem with players going down too easily, as I believe Rooney and Ryall did.

In an interview with the BBC, former England international Trevor Sinclair, a coach at Leicester City and TV pundit, said diving should be stamped out, but added: "If you're an offensive player and a defender comes flying in at 100 miles per hour and that causes you to lose momentum, then I think players are entitled to go down. People are naive if they think players are going to stay on their feet.

"A player has a right to go down - football is not this Walt Disney world a lot of people think it is."

Ryall would have served a two-week suspension if the video evidence had not been found and he was found guilty of simulation.

But even if he had been banned, the penalty decision stood and Sydney earned a point because of it.

Maybe the answer is to get video refs to look at decisions immediately and reverse them if necessary.

Anything that kicks diving out of the game has to make it better - otherwise we lose integrity, and the poor old referees stand no chance.

Topics:  diving opinion phil dillon soccer

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