Rashford, Kane & Sane Should Face Diving Bans
We are all football fans, one-eyed to a degree when we judge our team. We fiercely defend our players.
As a consequence, we condone cheating, diving and conning because we gain from it. It’s that simple.
So I’m going to call out EVERY dive, every feign and every situation where a player has taken it upon themselves to con the game, their opponent and sport. The epidemic is now that serious.
Some people say ‘why bother, it’s part of the game and it’s just players bending, not breaking the rules!’
It’s cheating, it’s making referees’ jobs impossible and it’s making long-standing fans angry.
It decides outcomes of games which impacts on trophies, relegations and promotions. It is a cancer in the sport and if I can’t get rid of it, I’ll make sure one or two players and managers squirm across a season. That’s my guarantee to long-standing football fans who’ve had enough.
Pundits won’t condemn it. Why? Because many did it themselves or profited from players in their teams who did it, so why put yourself in an uncomfy situation on a sofa when the presenter shows you doing it?
Let’s start with some facts here. A few seasons ago on a show I presented, we were joined by a body language expert. Someone who was trained to see unnatural body movements in sport and life in general.
1. If your arms go up in the air, that is a sure sign a dive is going to come. Why? If you’re walking down the street and you trip, your arms go out and down, not up, to break a fall. This is a fact.
2. If your legs close together prior to going over and the knees start to bend, same thing as point one applies. Using the street analogy, when you stumble, you try to put a leg out to stop you going face-first into the ground. Your knees don’t buckle and your legs certainly don’t automatically glue together as if they’ve have been tied together by rope.
3. Slowing down prior to contact means a player is waiting for an opponent to go into tackle mode. A tackle is NOT illegal, nor is an attempt, nor is contact. The diving player is ensuring he initiates contact, meaning for him, he is morally in the right as he has been impeded.
So it’s time to call this out every week. Not to fudge it.
Let’s not be afraid of the inevitable ‘it wasn’t our player Stan, it’s their player’ bullshit. Because in several games on Super Sunday, some of our brightest players, two of them English (which is the most dispiriting) dived to affect a game.
Harry Kane v Arsenal
He drives into the box, goes temporarily away from goal then crucially, slightly moves his right leg into the Arsenal defender. Does the defender contact Kane? Yes! Does Kane’s body language mean a dive? For me, yes.
Why? Because a player who slows down, moves a leg to draw contact, then goes down incredibly easily has dived. Again, there is nothing in the rule book that stipulates contact means you have the right to, could do or should go down. It is down to the player to decide whether to be honest, try to go past the defender and God forbid get a shot off. Kane didn’t do that in my opinion, he looked for the contact and boom, that’s the signal to go down.
Conclusion? A very clever look for contact and once contact was guaranteed, a 6ft 3″ striker goes down easily. Dive.
Leroy Sane v Boro
Drives into the box and when the moment comes to take a good touch towards goal, Sane actually plays the ball away from goal, in my opinion triggering this thought process:
I’ve overplayed the ball, so what can I do to get something from this situation? Dive!
As blatant a dive as you will see all weekend, with all of the hallmarks of the body language described above. Arms out, legs looking to go into an opponent to ‘legitimise’ in Sane’s conscience that contact has been made.
Conclusion. A cynical dive after the attacking player’s poor touch demanded that he get himself out of the shit by taking the easy option.
Marcus Rashford v Swansea
Perhaps the most disappointing dive of the day as the player is talented, young and English.
It shows how ingrained the cancer is in English football.
He takes the ball up to the goalkeeper, in a very good position to continue the move and score a goal. But of course what many fans don’t realise is when players take the easy option to dive, they are conning supporters of the chance to see highly-paid stars doing what they should be doing. Scoring goals, creating chances and giving value for money!
The fact that Rashford’s knees were buckling way before the goalkeeper got near him, the arms went in the air and he guaranteed the contact to legitimise in his own mind that he could go down shows this as a clear dive in my opinion.
Conclusion. The worst of the three dives because he was in such a great position to score a goal, moreso than Kane or Sane. That of course shouldn’t make a difference but for me as a former striker it makes it more annoying that a young player is programmed to go down first and doing the hard bit of putting the ball in the goal second.
If I had my way, all three players would be looking at an FA disciplinary charge with a warning on first offence, then bans after that.
Managers with multiple culprits in their team would be fined as would clubs. This would get rid of it in no time at all.
Before you slag me off with your (insert team) glasses on, remember YOUR team are as likely to be the wronged party and that could be in a game that matters to your team in the chase to achieve their aims.
To those who say ‘they do it abroad’, I’m afraid that doesn’t cut the mustard. Some countries routinely use PEDs to cheat in their sports, so using those examples, are you seriously suggesting that small levels of cheating don’t lead to larger levels of cheating? Of course they do.
To every pundit who says you have the right to go down, you are a disgrace to the sport.
You should be nowhere near a mic or a studio. You are encouraging 11 year-olds to cheat and from the messages I get, that’s exactly what is happening.
To the three players who cheated today, you won’t give a flying fig what I think. But I guarantee one thing in your illustrious careers ahead, you’ll be sat on the pitch someday, crying and distraught as you’ve been cheated out of a game.