Some of the best players the world has ever seen have broken the rules now and then. Eric Cantona booted a rival fan in the face, Diego Maradona scored THAT goal with his hand and both Cristiano and Messi have hit the deck a little too easily when their sides have been chasing the game – should these things, like diving. be punished retrospectively?
Cantona was banned for his actions, Maradona has suffered a lifetime of criticism for his ‘Hand of God’ goal and Messi and Ronaldo have both been labelled divers leading referees to show hesitation when awarding decisions in their favour.
There is a justice system in place already (of sorts), it simply lacks consistency and it is unlikely to develop any with the proposed amendments to the handling of the diving matter.
Consider a far more heinous footballing crime: missing a drugs test. This offence incurred an eight-month ban for Rio Ferdinand in 2003 but has since incurred bans of various length for other offenders – is eight months not the standard? If not, why was Rio banned for so long where others may not have been?
The same question must be asked of the proposed retrospective punishments for diving.
The FA have confirmed that a panel will be appointed to assess incidents involving players diving wherein the dive:
- Leads to the award of a penalty
- Leads to a red card for an opponent
- Leads to the dismissal of an opponent (causing the award of one of the two cautions)
While these criteria seem very suitable; the long arm of the FA law may not view all incidents in the same light. The panel appointed are unlikely to be able to act on offences that are included in a referee’s match report as the official will have acknowledged that they have seen the dive and decided not to punish it.
This is the case for reviewing dismissals in the Premier League, and other English Football Leagues, which leads us all to believe that a referee knowing a dive has occurred without applying punishment will leave the appointed board powerless to act.
The crux of the matter is this; a dive early in the game that goes unpunished will no doubt cause irritation for an opponent. Subsequently, the player might find themselves dismissed later in the game with the dive itself, that caused the player’s irritation, going unpunished as it doesn’t meet the review criteria.
A good move by the FA, no doubts there, but a flawed concept on the whole.
Additionally, the FA will need to review several other rules before it can wholly implement their diving punishment committee. For example; a player that is dismissed in a game cannot always appeal the decision – ergo if they are dismissed as a byproduct of diving, can it be said that their suspension will be rescinded?
It can be said but there are no guarantees whatsoever that a red card that is wrongfully shown can be rescinded without an overhaul of the review and appeal systems.
It’s a lot of effort to affect change and the FA are notorious for getting these decisions wrong – hopefully, I’m proven wrong.