Diving is one of the most obnoxious tactics in Association Football, it is the practice of exaggerating contact by feigning injury in order to draw a free kick, which is from any part of the football pitch, or a penalty kick which is from the inside of the twelve yard box and are an excellent chance to score on. The reason diving has gained in popularity is that officials cannot easily determine at game speed whether or not a player is faking injury or contact, which drives television viewers at home who have the benefit of slow-motion instant replay absolutely bananas. Today the English Football Association (F.A.) decided that they would finally begin to combat this notoriously hard to stop practice. Starting in the 2017-2018 football season the F.A. has mandated that the penalty for “successful deception of a match official by feigning injury” will be met with a two-match suspension, borrowing the rule from the Scottish Football Association. Dives without such added theatrics would be retroactively carded under the new system.
This ruling comes as the conversation about diving has reached a near feverish pitch, as the result of several questionable penalty kicks being awarded in Premier League matches, most notably Marcus Rashford for Manchester United dove in the box after contact by a Swansea player and proceeded to score on the ensuing kick and since it was not technically illegal under the Laws of the Game, Rashford has escaped formal punishment, although online fan communities have been less forgiving. The objectionable plays would be reviewed by a former player, former official, and former manager according to the Guardian. One issue that persists is that although dives will now be prosecuted, what happens the first time a player is carded for a dive retroactively, after scoring a goal on the ensuing penalty? Will the goal be nullified? Would his team be forced to forfeit? These uncomfortable questions will probably be answered next season and beyond, hopefully with the result that more footballing associations take stands against players flopping like fish on the pitch.