Not real, but simulated | FIFA wants tougher policing on dives

The International Football Association Board did not include this image in its slide presentation on simulation. (chinadaily.com)

London and San Francisco | Dave Eggers states the facts straight in a book excerpt published last weekend in the Observer Sport Monthly. In yet another permutation of the “Why Americans don’t like soccer” argument, Eggers mentions, first, the Cold War–era “commie” taint and, second, the prevalence of diving (aka “simulation”):

[D]iving in soccer is a problem. It is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging and cheating, an unappealing mix. The theatricality of diving is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds. First there will be some incidental contact, and then there will be a long moment—enough to allow you to go and wash the car and return—after the contact and before the diver decides to go down. When you’ve returned from washing the car and around the time you’re making yourself a mini-bagel grilled cheese, the diver will be leaping forward, his mouth Munch-wide and oval, bracing himself for contact with the pitch.

It’s World Cup time, and time for quadrennial reinforcement of bookshelves.

All of this is tongue-in-cheek—one of 32 essays, each keyed to participating teams in the upcoming World Cup finals, in the forthcoming Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup—and perhaps uncomfortably timely for the International Football Association Board, the FIFA-linked group that oversees the Laws of the Game (always capitalized). Only last weekend, we saw Mark van Bommel precociously airborne in the clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid following a penalty-box challenge from Roberto Carlos. Van Bommel earned a penalty. Ronaldo, who tried the same tomfoolery sometime later, received a yellow card.

On a recent edition of the BBC’s World Football, Premiership referee Graham Poll affirmed that a yellow card is presently the maximum sanction for simulation. He dislikes the idea of retroactively punishing offenders, since not all games are reviewable from reverse angle, from the goal-cam lens and the plethora of other camera positions. Early last month, IFAB in a pre–World Cup directive to referees asked for more rigorous enforcement of diving and other forms of gamesmanship.

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