Diving – not just a professional hazard

'No diving' signIf you’ve got a game of football this weekend, don’t forget your scuba gear… chances are you’ll come across some diving! At least that’s what we found in a recent Club Website poll.

With diving in the professional game receiving a lot of attention recently, we thought we’d ask if you have ever witnessed players taking a dive in your grassroots games…. and the results we got back don’t look good.

More than three quarters of you out there – the Great British footballing public – said that you had seen players diving at the matches you turn out to in parks, schools and grounds across the country.

47 percent of you said that it happens only “occasionally” while a worrying 30 percent reckons it happens “all the time”.

That leaves just 23 percent of you who only ever witness diving when watching Tom Daly at the Olympics or, more likely, checking out our professional footballing counterparts strut their stuff on Match of the Day and Super Sunday.

Have your say!

So, what do you make of those results? Are the professional role models to blame?  Do people only dive because they see professionals trying – and often getting away with it – on the TV?

Or would diving go on regardless?  Is it just naive to think that the game can be played and won without resorting to cheating?

No diving (web)

And let’s not dress this up here – diving is cheating. Trying to con the referee to win a free kick may be effective. Getting an opponent booked or even sent off may help win you games. But it’s still cheating.

But is cheating acceptable if it means winning a game? Is the result the be-all and end-all whatever level you play at?

Surely our beautiful game has not come to this?  Not at our level in the real grassroots where there aren’t millions of pounds at stake?

And what can we do to solve the problem?  How can we reverse this worrying trend? Or are we just making a mountain out of a molehill? Is there really nothing to worry about?

Whatever you think, we want to hear from you!!  Have your say in the comments field below.  Let’s get this matter sorted!

Club Website poll result:

Diving in football has been getting a lot of attention recently. Have you ever witnessed players taking a dive in your games?

– Yes, but only occasionally     46.6%
– Yes, it happens all the time     30.4%
– No, it’s not a problem for us     23.0%

Total votes: 6,585

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Rob Bailey on September 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    You could say that ‘role models’ are to blame but essentially the team coaches / managers are!! If any of my players took a dive to win a penalty they know it would be the last thing they did in that game – they would be subbed! If players are educated to play in the right spirit and that ethos is FULLY endorsed by the club then diving (and arguing with officials) would stop in a heartbeat.

    At grassroots level it is easier to con refs as there are only one pair of eyes doing the work rather than three, four or six plus TV cameras at the top level, so if players were more honest it would certainly lead to more refs actualy enjoying a Saturday afternoon!!

  2. John Campbell on September 19, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I agree Ronaldo, Alonso, Drogba, take your pick – these are the players we have to thank for bringing this to our game, but Manchester United, Liverpool and Chealsea are also to blame. They knew it went on and did nothing to stop it. Our children will always watch their idols – Mr Rooney, Gerrard, they’re going the same way.

  3. Ronaldo on September 20, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I think diving is OK in some occasions, like if your opponents are diving why should you not dive then? It might even win you the game sometimes.

  4. Jim Nicholls on September 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Diving has always been in the game, but has occured less over time as referees have got better at spotting it. I can remember some of the West Germany and Argentina games of past years where the diving was constant and at times ridiculous, but the standard of refereeing now is so much better – it happenes much, much less and is highlighted when it does. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, certainly not in the English game. I spent some years in Spain and almost every player went over and looked ike they’d been shot at the slightest touch, so Fifa’s current witch hunt against the English game perhaps needs to be redirected to other countries.

  5. Gordon Moore on September 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    My team were recently involved in a game where the opposition manager was heard by parents and supporters telling his players to go down and pretend to be injured to waste time.

    I have played the game for many years and know this is part and parcel of football, but this was an U13s game. I had to ask if this was really the way he thought kids should be taught to play, and low and behold all I got was abuse about his team winning the game.

    I know my team are not the greatest and will probably have another hard season, but the boys continue to turn up, because all they want to do is play football, and I make it my goal to teach them the right way to play. If they have to cheat let them learn by themselves, when they are playing in mens teams.

  6. Jackie Price on September 21, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I currently help run an adult club but for many years ran a youth football club and I would like to comment on Gordon Moores email.

    Like Gordon Moore our young lads weren’t the greatest and struggled in the early years. I always told them that they were the strongest team in the league because we were sitting at the bottom of the table holding everyone else up ha!! But we made our lads have the best times of their lives winning or more often than not losing and they stayed with our club for over 6 years and today when most of our lads are now 21 they all stay in touch and always remember the fun times we had.

    We never asked them to dive or cheat and when we finally won the league and cup at U15 Level it was one of the greatest moments for everyone. The opposition manager in your game may win more matches but i bet the lads don’t hang around or remember him for the right reasons in years to come.

  7. Chris Bates on September 22, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    The main question is where do the players get the idea from about diving and play acting? I would like to think that a majority of the younger players don`t naturally think of doing it, so it is coached into them in the main. I know of kids who are told to hit the deck at the slightest touch, and there`s one manager in our league who signals to his players to feign an injury to deliberately disrupt the flow of a game. The latter`s almost farcical sometimes; they`re a bit like those goats who faint when a sudden noise is made. All of a sudden there`s a player on the floor rolling around when there`s not another boy within ten yards of him, myseriously when the opposition are having a good run of play and are in a strong position…..

    Sadly I feel it is prompted and coached into the players, all under the umbrella of “Gamesmanship”. Along with ragging referees constantly throughout a game just to pick up extra calls, making constant and needless substitutions, basically trying other tactics to win a game. Other than teaching them how to play the game properly in training.

    There`s a varying degree amongst people involved as to what is acceptable within the game, but I`m probably on the side of the majority who just want the kids to play fairly an honestly and enjoy the game. I think the onus is on the coaches to teach properly, and these days aren`t coaches supposed to hold at least an FA grade 1 badge to be involved in the first place??? What must they be teaching them……..

  8. Gordon Moore on September 23, 2009 at 7:28 am

    My biggest concern from the game we played was not the childrens cheating, as you say it appears as if they are being taught to do this, but the attitude of the parents and coaches towards my boys after the game. Yes we have got a mixed group of lads, some more talented than others, all shapes and sizes, but isnt that what the youth game is about? Getting these boys together to play the game they love! As Jackie Price said above, we do our best to make sure the boys have fun, we plan training sessions with this is mind, we arrange day trips, discos and other activities. And when the boys are together at these events you can see the togetherness of them, some teams have littles clicks that go off together, ours walk round in one big group. Which means I must be doind something right!!!

  9. Chris Bates on September 23, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I don`t think the integrity of the majority of coaches was being questioned. Most are like yourself Gordon, doing it for the whole enjoyment factors.

    What is being questioned is what people perceive as acceptable tactics in a game of football. And consequently is taught to our kids.

    Technically speaking, a decent coach(es) should have done all the tactical work during training. Therefore there shouldn`t be the need to run up the line screaming and yelling, or resorting to questionable tactics. Any coach worth his salt will have trained the team properly, in all aspects of the game and the fairness side of it, and wouldn`t have to teach kids to `take a tumble` to gain an advantage.

    That team I mentioned, the one with the`fainting goats`; all the teams in our area hate playing against them. Not because of the kids themselves, who work hard as a team and there`s some tidy little players amongst them. But because of their manager, who will tear into referees, linesmen, coaches, even kids themselves during a game, and unashamedly use dodgy tactics. It`s totally unfair on the players that their manager has them tarred with this image.

    I think the most successful teams are not the ones that win every week, but possibly the ones that stay as a club, as a group, and do so for years and stay friends long after they`ve finished playing, as was mentioned above.

  10. Matthew Keenen on September 23, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I think diving is a great specificity towards the game !

  11. Mark Cheadle (Kev) on September 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    My best friend is captain and I believe he is right on what he is saying, diving is just apart of the game these days, no problem ! x

  12. william maxwell on September 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I coach under 14 level and i have heard from other team coaches and some parents especially teams that have far to travel to take a dive to get players booked or sent off.i personally think that if the referee hears them telling someone to take a dive the should be removed from the park.

  13. John Hughes on September 25, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Diving is only a minor problem in the games we have played during the last two or three seasons, what is more of a problem is the amount of really bad tackles that could cause serious injury to players.

    I tell you know I loved nothing more when I was playing than an opportunity to take the ball in a tackle with the added bonus of letting the player I was marking know he was in a game. But some of the young lads today think it is reasonable to go over the top of the ball or be late with a tackle no matter what the consequences, that to me is the worst thing in the game at our level.

    As an example we had one of our young lads booked for giving the ref stick last week and quite rightly so, in the same game we had to carry a player of after a terrible tackle by a young lad from the opposition – both players received the same punishment which was a booking. Not that I condone either but one could have resulted in a broken leg to a young player who may have missed work for many weeks if not months and may never be able to play again, injuring or hurting people seems to be a glorification to some.

    To me they are mindless cowards hiding behind the fact that they can gain cudos from their friends, and at the same time be protected by the ref & their team mates & also the fact that most players are thankfully more full of bravado than actual violent reaction.

  14. Chris Bates on September 27, 2009 at 1:23 am

    I think we`ve all had experience of teams that we like to term `dirty`. I`ve known one or two managers over the years, even in my youth when I played, who encouraged players to give the opposition a sly dig behind the the referee`s back, on the quick or flair players especially. But on the other hand, I`ve seen some really fair-minded coaches who have just got one or two thugs in the team, who, as stated above, take great joy out of taking a lump out of someone. It`s hard for some managers to stop it; for the simple reason, as is apparent in our local league, retaining players as they get older is notoriously hard and teams fold frequently through lack of numbers. So they have to put with a certain amount of wayward behaviour on the pitch.

    It all comes under the umbrella of things that go on in the game which are contraversial, but are open to individual interpretation as to whether it`s an acceptable part of the game. Take the grappling that goes on in the box before a corner`s taken; it`s something that`s started only in recent years, and has crept into the youth game now, and no-one turns an eye to it. Yet technically all the players doing it are fouling each other. Then it`s left to the referee to pick out a foul when the whole penalty box is full of players all practicing WWF moves.

    But the original subject was diving. Some professionals haven`t done themselves any favours recently with their BAFTA-winning attempts, but it is true that it doesn`t happen much in the youth game. I think this is because kids generally don`t like being labelled a cheat by their peers, and you`d be suprised how conscious they are of what their peers think about what they do and how they act.

  15. Hillingdon FC on September 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I have run youth sides for over 10 years and never seen one dive!!!! Thankfully it seems to be a part of the pro game that is not corrupting the future of the game!

    If a kid takes a dive then look to his coach for an explanation!

  16. Paul Fahey on September 27, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    First of all, I haven’t read all the comments so I hope I’m not repeating what others have said…

    I hate diving and certainly don’t condone it but it is simply another part of gamesmanship which goes on all the time. How many times does a player claim for a throw in to go his way knowing he touched it last? All the time! The same applies to offisde traps and appealing when you know they’re onside, appeals for fouls that you know aren’t fouls, the list goes on and on and these kind of things happen in games every weekend at every level unfortunately.

    It all comes down to people wanting to win and although it’s not a case of ‘at any cost’, it’s certainly pushed in that direction and some players will do almost anything to get the edge on the opposition

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