Start, Approach, Take Off, Flight, Roll, Penalty
June 25, 2010 6:21 AM   Subscribe

One of the least edifying aspects of professional football [soccer] is the dive. Is it just part of the game, or something that, ahem, foreigners do? In 2006 FIFA rejected the use of video evidence to punish cheaters and although "simulation" is punished, when spotted by the referee, the problem remains. In the wake of (among others) a dodgy red card to Brazilian star Kaka in the 2010 World Cup, here's a handy guide to some of the best/worst dives about (inside) and how to tell when a player is faking it.

- A manager dives..
-
Football's most memorable dives
- Top 10 worst football dives
- Five of the worst World Cup dives
- The ten best football dives
- Funniest soccer dives ever
- Top 10 dives

Previously.
posted by MuffinMan (92 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good post. Is pretty similar to the other one, though.

(headbutts MuffinMan, falls backwards in fake anguish)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:30 AM on June 25, 2010


The dive exists in all professional and amateur sports. I hate players that do it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2010


So, it's like American professional wrestling, but with worse acting?

partial hamburger
posted by usonian at 6:47 AM on June 25, 2010


The only sport that should feature diving... is diving.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really like the post-goal "I'm an airplane! Chase me guys!" bit.
posted by davebush at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


In completely unrelated news, the Brazil-Portugal match starts in about 5 minutes.
posted by daveje at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The way to eliminate diving is to fine players who do it. It's sometimes a hard thing for the officials to catch so video of games needs to be reviewed and those caught diving need to pay a steep price for having done so.

Then you will see a reduction in this embarrassing practice.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:57 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best dive of the world cup
posted by robtoo at 6:57 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out how I can fake being really, really offended by somebody else's phantom snarking, and maybe roll around on my keyboard clutching my mouse until somebody else flags this post.
posted by mhoye at 6:59 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


although "simulation" is punished, when spotted by the referee

I do like how this causes a complete reversal of the situation when they call it. From a yellow card one way to the other.
posted by smackfu at 7:02 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a casual fan I really love watching the World and Euro Cups, but the diving really gets to me. Sure, it happens in hockey and basketball, too, but in those sports all a well-placed dive gets you is a couple of foul shots, a penalty on the other player or (best-case scenario in hockey) a penalty shot, which is a 50-50 proposition in terms of scoring a goal. Flops can influence the outcome of games, but they rarely decide them as they too often do in football. Embarrassing shit like this makes it clear diving and faking injuries is often part of teams' strategy; both of these guys are clearly engaged in "simulation" in an attempt to get the other player sent off. Why? Because it works. Personally, I'd be ashamed to win a match this way, but I guess I'm not a world-class football player.

At the very least, I don't see why FIFA won't allow post-match video review and punishment of the most obvious dives. It's bad for football. As Cathal Kelly put it in the Toronto Star yesterday, "The sight of [Jan Mucha and Fabio Quagliarella] entangled in the net, rolling around, is the sort of thing that allows rubes to run down the sport."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:07 AM on June 25, 2010


Italian football training camp
posted by chillmost at 7:08 AM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


My favourite.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:10 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, like any sensible person I hate Rick Reilly, and I hate the moronic "I hate the World Cup" columns that pop up every four years, but I have to admit I chuckled at this:

"This will be the new rule when I'm made president of FIFA: If you stay on the ground longer than 30 seconds, you're out of the game; 45, you are taken directly to the nearest hospital; 60, you get a telethon."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:12 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I forgot: Mr T addresses the problem of diving in football.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:15 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The similarities to diving in ice hockey and flopping in professional basketball are clearly there. In American (oblong?) football, the major amount of selling comes either on holding calls or on pass interference. To some degree, all leagues have some sort of control over what officials will cite and how they cite it. The diving in football doesn't seem egregious to me--but on the other hand, I hate bad officiating, especially when it affects MY team (aren't we all like this?).

It doesn't seem as if Italy's famed/infamous diving skills helped them in the WC.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:15 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm not a soccer fan, but my friend is so I've paid a bit of attention. I've heard the fans blowing their vuvuzelas despite widespread complaints that it ruins the broadcasts and even interferes with players' ability to communicate on the field. I saw the US goal that was called back for a phantom penalty and then read articles explaining that in soccer, referees don't need to explain what they're calling, against whom, or why. I read about how, in one game of this "Only once in four years!" experience, the #1 ranked team was pitted against the #105 ranked team (and then only beat them 2-1). The last few articles I read explained that instant reply would ruin soccer because "uncertainty and subjectivity boost the sport" and because cheating is an integral part of the game and "there's a lot to be learned and enjoyed from how each team does it."

I'd like to see an FPP that really sells soccer. Great moments of athleticism. Incredible feats of skill. Clever team strategy. Et cetera. Because I'm getting skeptical.
posted by cribcage at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


It doesn't seem as if Italy's famed/infamous diving skills helped them in the WC.

Well, they would've been mostly (if not mathematically) eliminated even before yesterday's debacle, except for their dive to get the penalty a few games ago. (And the diver, DeRossi, gave up the ball to let one of the goals in yesterday. A bit of poetic justice, I think.)
posted by inigo2 at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2010


The last few articles I read explained that instant reply would ruin soccer because "uncertainty and subjectivity boost the sport" and because cheating is an integral part of the game

Don't read articles about sports, then, because that is true in every one of them.
posted by inigo2 at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flopping is for everyone!
posted by haricotvert at 7:22 AM on June 25, 2010


"Brazilian star kaka" is my least favorite sexual technique.
posted by luvcraft at 7:22 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The dive exists in all professional and amateur sports.

Except that, in sports where the referees routinely ignore it -- in particular, I'm thinking of baseball and American football -- it's comparatively minor. When was the last time you remember an NFL game turning on whether someone was injured, except for the times when someone was legitimately hurt and left the entire game? I have to wonder whether part of the reason is that the rules in those sports are very, very specific on what is and is not allowed. I don't know how specific soccer rules are, but from coverage, it seems like the refs have a lot more leeway.
posted by Etrigan at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm looking forward to the time when football is only played in theaters because that's where the best actors are. It's pretty clear that's what the game is all about these days, anyway.

When a team of highly skilled athletes can have the rug yanked out from under them because of some jerkface's ability to sell a fake injury, the entire sport should be getting a red card.
posted by Aquaman at 7:29 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find it strange that the most vehement soccer fans get frothy and outraged about Thierry Henry's handball and blame him for getting it (not the refs for missing it), and then turn around and are apologetic about dives. It's a part of the game! Shrug!
posted by Plutor at 7:39 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Grrrrrrr... I'm watching Brazil play Portugal and the commentators just watched Pepe stomp on Luis Fabiano's heel in superpainful fashion and they proceeded to whine about players making the most of injuries... that could have been a bonebreaker. Commentators should know better.

Also, I think that super-slow-mo makes people think that fouls are not as bad as they really are because you don't really get a feel for the force when you see it in slow motion.
posted by Kattullus at 7:46 AM on June 25, 2010


Slate's Dive of the Day
posted by Bwithh at 7:51 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is one of the dirtiest games I've seen so far - the ref has shown cards for cynical fouls, dangerous tackles, dissent, handball, and simulation. Seven in total, and the game's only half over. Admittedly the ref is having a good game, but I just wish the players would get on with the business of kicking the ball and stop with the kicking of each other. It's called football, not Kick Each Other Senseless While Rolling On The Ground Clutching A Random Body Part And Screaming Bloody Murder.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:58 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm talking about the Brazil-Portugal match, of course.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:58 AM on June 25, 2010


Walter Mitty: and of course both sides will "win" if they tie. Portugal and Brazil are like a married couple that has passed beyond"scoring points off each other" and moved on to "let the lawyer decide."
posted by chavenet at 8:04 AM on June 25, 2010


Games like Brazil - Portugal is why we have yellow and red cards. Actually, The Battle of Santiago is why we have the card system (not entirely true, but the referee of the match, Ken Aston, went on to invent the yellow and red card system).
posted by Kattullus at 8:07 AM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


The punishment for diving should be a penalty kick... meaning the other team gets a free kick at the guy who faked the injury.

It's only fair.
posted by callmejay at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my time playing and watching soccer I've always hated guys that take dives. It always seemed to me there were two types of teams, those who do and those who do not take dives. I've had coaches from both camps.
The only international game I saw in person was Mexico vs Ireland and it really struck me how the Irish team if knocked down would roll pop up and keep running, while guys on the Mexican team would dive and try to draw fouls. That pretty well solidified my support of Ireland.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2010


I accept that strategically "appearing to be fouled" or "making the most of some contact for the benefit of the refs" is part of many team sports. Basketball, American Football, Hockey, etc. I think the thing in football that makes it so wussy and infuriating to my manly-man-american-sportsman brain is the theatrical feigning of injury.

Sure, take a dive, make a spectacular-looking somersault when you hit the ground or whatever. But don't cry about it. Look indignant, look angry, look shocked maybe. That guy just knocked you down and tried to tear your foot off! But give us a break with the anguish. You're a professional (male) athlete. Don't act like a little girl that got pushed off the jungle gym.

"This will be the new rule when I'm made president of FIFA: If you stay on the ground longer than 30 seconds, you're out of the game; 45, you are taken directly to the nearest hospital; 60, you get a telethon."

I hated that article, and it gave me a renewed dislike for Rick Reilly ("The Twinkie-fingered gloves goalkeepers wear"? My god, that's dumb. Get an editor), but that line is kinda funny.
posted by dammitjim at 8:26 AM on June 25, 2010


If you are watching Portugal-Brazil right now, you are watching one of many "types" of soccer matches. This one happens to not a pretty match. So what. Take it for what it is.

Diving, trying to get away with shit to keep possession or get a penalty kick, trying to coax the ref into giving an opposing player a card or get him sent off etc. : it will always be a part of the game. You have to look past your lust for comeuppance and justice and enjoy the game for the way its being played at that moment.

The ref can only do what he can to keep things from getting out of hand.

If you cannot get past this, I suggest you watch high school sports then.
posted by L'OM at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2010


cribcage: “I saw the US goal that was called back for a phantom penalty and then read articles explaining that in soccer, referees don't need to explain what they're calling, against whom, or why. I read about how, in one game of this "Only once in four years!" experience, the #1 ranked team was pitted against the #105 ranked team (and then only beat them 2-1). The last few articles I read explained that instant replay would ruin soccer because 'uncertainty and subjectivity boost the sport' and because cheating is an integral part of the game and 'there's a lot to be learned and enjoyed from how each team does it.' ... I'd like to see an FPP that really sells soccer. Great moments of athleticism. Incredible feats of skill. Clever team strategy. Et cetera. Because I'm getting skeptical.”

Those last few articles you've read were sort of idiotic, I have to say – they're arguing the right thing, but giving stupid reasons for it.

If you want a coherent argument:

The whole point of the system of officiation in soccer is that officiation is a delicate art, an important art, that is only complicated by bureaucracy and institutionalization. Having three dozen people decide every play does not improve the quality of officiation; it only muddies the process, and it leads to a system that is actually less just than one where one person rules. This is the case, I think, in American football; I have to say that I don't see how anyone watches that stuff. It's mind-numbingly boring; play on average lasts around ten seconds, followed by at least two minutes of waiting for the next play. I don't mind that pace, I guess – it's sort of like watching golf, really – but even if you like American football, you have to admit that imposing that kind of thing on soccer would ruin the flow of the game. Stopping and starting, playing and then reviewing the play and then getting ready for the next play... it would be a different sport entirely.

But the essential point, I think, is this: officiation in soccer is not any worse than it is in any other sport. If you think it is, please think of the situation in baseball, where a call by an umpire can deny a pitcher a significant professional achievement. (Somebody can give examples for why this is the same in American football, too; friends I have who follow the sport are constantly complaining about blown calls, so I'm sure it happens.) This is because officiation is not improved by democracy; in point of fact, officiation is often harmed by democracy, because democracy introduces confusion and debate into proceedings that shouldn't be ruled by confusion and debate.

What would be the point of instant replay in soccer? To show plays to a referee who doesn't happen to see them? The fact is that if a referee didn't see a play, he is not doing his job. He's supposed to be there for every play; he's supposed to be watching. We know from experience, I think, that adding dozens of other people watching along won't help the whole thing one bit if we don't know if we can trust them, nor does it increase the likelihood that we can trust the majority of them; all we need is one person we can trust, and if we don't have that one person, we don't have quality officiation anyway. If instant replay were introduced, it would just invite everyone, from the players to the coaches to the people at home, to try being the referee themselves, and to think maybe they can make the calls. The implication would be drawn that there's room for debate or discussion here, that we should all have a nice long conversation about it. Referees are willing to talk to players, but on the field, they rule; this is how it has to be for soccer to work properly.

This is why FIFA flatly refuses to even get involved when people dispute individual calls by individual referees. As they rightly see, they don't have any say in it. When a referee makes a call on the field, that call is final. It must be final for the game to be fair. I appreciate that we Americans can see a few clips of horrendous calls and be appalled by it, and I fully accept that when a referee goes wrong in soccer, he can really go wrong. But what we're missing is the way in which generally this system leads to a game that functions as a well-oiled machine, and the way in which there's actually a great deal of nobility in this that's missing in sports where officials are just bureaucratic representatives of a governing body that votes on stuff like this and forms boards and panels and takes eons to come to what's probably the wrong decision anyway. When a really good referee (and there are more really good ones than we tend to realize) officiates, it's a beautiful thing; players that spoil the game through cheating or rulebreaking are not allowed even to disrupt the game for a moment. They are not pulled aside like children, they are not pointed out through complex bureaucratic signs; they are shown one of two cards, one that means "this is a warning" and one that means "you must leave the field," and that's that – justice is dispensed, and the player must comply. The fact of players rolling on the ground and pretending to be hurt seems sort of odious, but in reality it's an indicator of this nobility; it means that even players realize that there is one person whom they must respect, and whom they must impress in any event, in order to get respect back. A good referee has enough worldly wisdom to know that 98% of this stuff is diving, and is intelligent enough to see it when the injury is real. And if a referee is bad, then having a dozen more bad referees isn't going to help.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 AM on June 25, 2010 [14 favorites]


Well, you and me can't do anything but sit on the sidelines and comment on it, and that's what we're doing - I'm just stating my preference for a match where skill and athleticism count for more than cheating and lying. And high school is hardly a guarantee of "justice". Pfft.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:40 AM on June 25, 2010


The ref can only do what he can to keep things from getting out of hand. If you cannot get past this, I suggest you watch high school sports baseball, basketball, American football or some other sport that where the games don't turn on this kind of bullshit drama then.
posted by straight at 8:41 AM on June 25, 2010


The fact is that if a referee didn't see a play, he is not doing his job.

But what do you do if there aren't enough "really good refs" to officiate the biggest tournament in the world?
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2010


straight: “The ref can only do what he can to keep things from getting out of hand. If you cannot get past this, I suggest you watch high school sports baseball, basketball, American football or some other sport that where the games don't turn on this kind of bullshit drama then.”

Ha. You mean sports where there's just poor officiation? Yes, I am so scandalized by guys who roll around on the ground faking an injury that I would trade a fine game for a game that's boring.
posted by koeselitz at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Diving, trying to get away with shit to keep possession or get a penalty kick, trying to coax the ref into giving an opposing player a card or get him sent off etc. : it will always be a part of the game. You have to look past your lust for comeuppance and justice and enjoy the game for the way its being played at that moment.

Talk about Stockholm Syndrome. You've gotten so inured to the shit you relish rolling around in it.

> But what do you do if there aren't enough "really good refs" to officiate the biggest tournament in the world?

There are lots of good refs, but because of the stupid insistence that World Cup refs represent all the wonderful little countries that make up the variegated tapestry of world football, they aren't at the World Cup. This is the single worst thing about the Cup; they should imitate baseball, which at least tries to make sure the Series has good umpiring. And then when the inevitable bad calls get made, fucking Sepp Blatter says moronic things about how the controversy is good for the game.
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that (the Brazil-Portugal game) was a piss-poor, boring game in general, but the referee had a good one. But it's not up to him to give the spectators a good game, it's up to the players to give a damn, and when a draw means both teams 'win' the group, it just doesn't happen.

At least the ref - Benito Archundia - was hardly fooled by the incessant writhing and yelling and faux-spontaneous-combustions.

It's doubly disappointing since both teams are, on their day, very good attacking teams.

Oh well, on to Spain-Chile. That at least might be interesting, since Chile's coach Bielsa thinks that attack is the only form of defense and Spain needs to win the game to be sure of qualification. I like Bielsa, he's a tactically interesting coach and Chile's games so far have been pretty entertaining.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:11 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For all that soccer is a game in constant motion, much of it is filled with much of the same motion. For me, most of the excitement in watching it arises when there is an actual scoring opportunity, not clearing the ball or passing back and forth at midfield or even sometimes around the penalty box. I played soccer for years and am having fun watching the World Cup (and not just the US team), but I have tons more fun watching my favorite college football team play.

In short, let's not introduce the "my sport is better than your sport" challenges. It's an unwinnable contest.
posted by Atreides at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If instant replay were introduced, it would just invite everyone, from the players to the coaches to the people at home, to try being the referee themselves, and to think maybe they can make the calls. The implication would be drawn that there's room for debate or discussion here, that we should all have a nice long conversation about it.

Football is a game defined by the beauty and drama of it's more or less constant movement and flow with very little in the way of breaks in the action; just two straight 45 minute halves (with penalty time added), no clock stoppages. To introduce video review would destroy this. So good on FIFA for sticking to their "Game Plan".

What I don't agree with is FIFA's refusal to review video after a game and perhaps notice certain transgressions (fouls, dives etc) that the ref missed (or misinterpreted) in the heat of the action. I see nothing wrong with a retroactive red or yellow card being given a player, or perhaps rescinded.
posted by philip-random at 9:19 AM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Atreides: “In short, let's not introduce the "my sport is better than your sport" challenges. It's an unwinnable contest.”

This is absolutely true, and I'm sorry for engaging in that kind of thing - there really is no point. I generally object to people who snidely say "soccer should emulate real sports like football and basketball," because I think that's more than a little unfair. But "those aren't real sports," while provocative, isn't a great response. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks to this thread, this will be running in my head all day:

Making believe this is what you've conceived
From your worst day, I'm takin a dive
Oh moving in line when you look back in time
To the first day, I'm taken I'm taken

And you and your sweet desire,
you took me ohh, higher and higher baby
It's a living thing,
It's a terrible thing to lose,
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose

I'm takin a dive. Halt the Slide. Hey!!

Takin' a dive 'cos you can't halt the slide
Floating downstream, I'm takin a dive
Ah so let her go don't start spoiling the show
It's a bad dream, I'm takin' , I'm takin'

And you and your sweet desire
Don't you do it ,
You took me ohh higher and higher baby

It's a livin' thing,
It's a terrible thing to lose
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose.(x2) I'm taking a dive,dive,dive,dive,dive off the slide,slide,slide,slide,slide oh yah,yah,yah,yah,yah off the slide,slide,slide.


Carry on, then.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's just silly that Americans who only watch the sport every 4 years can suddenly be all up in arms about diving. A little late to the argument eh?
posted by cazoo at 9:33 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


A propos of nothing, since this is about the World Cup, I can mention the latest bit of internet Vuvuzela silliness: take a good look at this Google Maps Street View for a place in South Africa. Check out the little local-map thumbnail in the lower right; see what the Street View man is holding? Kinda cute.
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's just silly that Americans who only watch the sport every 4 years can suddenly be all up in arms about diving. A little late to the argument eh?

It could be that every time we try to watch it between World Cups, we're turned off by the flopping.
posted by Etrigan at 9:47 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great moments of athleticism. Incredible feats of skill. Clever team strategy. Et cetera.

Are you really saying there's none of this in soccer? Watch a game. Nearly any game. These guys could run circles around your average baseball or football player, and if you don't see "great moments of athleticism," "incredible feats of skill," or "clever team strategy" I'm not sure you're really paying attention.

Why would you need "A great FPP that sells soccer" anyway? To sell it to people in the US who've already decided it's a sissy-man sport? Hey, maybe instead of a shootout we could have Over-The Top-style scorpion arm wrestling to decide the match!

Diving really doesn't occupy much of a game. Yes, it's pathetic to see grown men faking injuries like this. But hate the diver, not the sport.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:49 AM on June 25, 2010


Yes, it's pathetic to see grown men faking injuries like this. But hate the diver, not the sport.

It's just kind of astonishing to me that football culture tolerates that behavior.

A baseball or American football player who got caught on film acting that way would be so universally reviled, his career would probably be over.
posted by straight at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2010


It seems to me though that divers get mocked and jeered though, and supporters teams who are known for diving and cheap play are constantly reminded of it. I'm not sure football culture really "tolerates" it any more than other sports.

I'd cite as an example Mike Ribiero (who was mentioned in another thread) as a guy known for diving in a "tough" sport. He's still a good enough player for teams to pay a salary to, despite a lot of fans who won't forgive his more egregious infractions.

It's easier to forgive in any sport when the offender plays for your side.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:03 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The punishment for diving should be a penalty kick... meaning the other team gets a free kick at the guy who faked the injury.

Ah, the Spats' Mom Rule. "If you want to cry, I'll give you something to cry about!"

I was not actually ever given something additional to cry about
posted by a young man in spats at 10:19 AM on June 25, 2010


In the wake of (among others) a dodgy red card to Brazilian star Kaka in the 2010 World Cup

To be fair, Kaka completely deserved to be removed, as he'd been acting like an asshole pretty much from the start of the game. He already had one yellow card from earlier on and the way he was acting himself on the field, he was bound to get another one (and a red card) at one point anyway. Sure, he didn't deserve to be removed in this particular situation, but he still gets absolutely no sympathy from me.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


> It's just silly that Americans who only watch the sport every 4 years can suddenly be all up in arms about diving. A little late to the argument eh?

You have no idea how often people watch the sport. Don't be a dick.
posted by languagehat at 10:59 AM on June 25, 2010


All accounts of US TV ratings I've seen suggest Americans don't watch much soccer between World Cups.
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:22 AM on June 25, 2010


All accounts of US TV ratings I've seen suggest Americans don't watch much soccer between World Cups.

More than the North Koreans, at least!

We get it, guys. Your sport is better than our sport(s). We're just enjoying the tournament and rooting on our team.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm still not sure what the original point of that comment was. That people who watch all the time like the diving? Or have just grown immune to it?
posted by smackfu at 11:29 AM on June 25, 2010


straight: “A baseball or American football player who got caught on film acting that way would be so universally reviled, his career would probably be over.”

That's seriously the silliest thing I've ever heard. There are all kinds of ridiculous things that happen in American sports. It's only that in baseball and American football, there'd be no point to faking an injury. But if there were a point, they'd do it - bet on it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


(- that's not to say that American sports are bad; only that it's totally unfair to act as though diving is a symptom of a kind of corruption that's deeply characteristic of soccer.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:32 AM on June 25, 2010


"The fact is that if a referee didn't see a play, he is not doing his job"

As a soccer ref, I respectfully disagree. It's just not a realistic viewpoint.

The ref's job is to make the game as fair and safe as possible. You can't see everything, it's just not humanly possible. There are assistant refs who help, and good line refs make a huge difference, but even then there are differences of opinion on the officiating team. A good referee team will know, trust, and respect each other. A good ref will keep a game from getting out of control, balancing control of the game against the flow and pace of the game. That's the ref's job.

As for instant replay based officiating in soccer, I am vehemently against it. The refs have a job to do and they do it. It's not perfect, but neither is the play from the players. It's part of the game, and there is scant evidence that instant replay has helped American football. I like to joke with people that the TV networks should offer a voting system, like Dancing With The Stars, for instant replay. The outcome would satisfy the largest number of viewers, which is the fundamental intent of instant replay after all, right?

As for the disallowed goals by USA in this World Cup, I was as furious as anyone. But the ref is the ref. He is The Supreme Court, right there, in real time. And just like the SCOTUS, he screws the pooch every now and then. Sometimes one team has higher hurdles to overcome, but in the vast majority of cases, poor officiating simply works against both teams equally. And of course, you rarely hear the team who benefits from a call argue against it.
posted by Xoebe at 11:41 AM on June 25, 2010


We get it, guys. Your sport is better than our sport(s)

I'm a canuck FWIW, and I doubt we're much more interested in soccer than the Americans (we also didn't even qualify for the World Cup).

but yes, our sport is better than yours. Go hockey!
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2010


Xoebe, do you think that the problem might have something to do with the relative paucity of officials on the field? There's three or four officials for twenty-two players, right? In American football, there's seven, and most of the action is within a much more predictable area of the field. In basketball, there's three officials for ten players. Baseball has three for ten to thirteen on the field at once, and again, much smaller field.
posted by Etrigan at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2010


FYI in case you're having trouble spotting dives: This is not a dive. [NSFJoe Montana].
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2010


It's interesting that football has never felt the need to go to series of games, considering how significant a factor luck is. They have the group stages but considering how many of those game down to a single goal in the third game, it doesn't seem to help.
posted by smackfu at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2010


[Sorry. That link should have been labelled NSFJoe Theisman. I think Joe Montana only injures his upper body.]

I'm pretty sure this one isn't a dive either. I'm getting pretty good at spotting these with practice; I felt pretty bad after the Brazil/CIV match when I initially thought Elano took a dive until I saw the replay, and I felt horrible for him. Of course, it should be noted that while Elano has a very particular set of skills, apparently tackling is not one of them so maybe that CIV injury was sort of kharmic.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:08 PM on June 25, 2010


Proponents of soccer officiating always gloss over the fact that in no other sport do teams have to play with fewer players after a player ejection. Yes, in hockey there are power plays but they don't last for the remainder of the game. The red card is just such a disproportionately massive penalty against a team that of course you're going to get all kinds of diving and faking of injuries. The prize of an ejected player and the reward of playing with more players than the other team is unmatched in sports - no other officiating call comes close to matching the impact of forcing one team to play with fewer players than the other team. Change that rule and I'd imagine you'd have less diving.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:13 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I admit I don't watch as much soccer on TV between World Cups, I tend to go watch local clubs play in person...
posted by MrBobaFett at 12:18 PM on June 25, 2010


Bring back Collina. I mean, would you argue with this man?
posted by Jakob at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2010


cazoo: "It's just silly that Americans who only watch the sport every 4 years can suddenly be all up in arms about diving. A little late to the argument eh?"

Americans not watching soccer/football is a legend I would really love to see disappear. MLS is the third highest-attended (per game) professional sports league in the United States, behind the NFL and MLB, and ahead of both the NHL and NBA. Even more importantly it's the seventh most popular soccer league in the world.

The reason this silly argument still holds water is that the MLS Cup isn't a household name the same way the Stanley Cup or World Series are. And the reason it isn't a household name is because it's not on nothional television. And the reason it's not on national television isn't because of the lack of watchers, it's because of the lack of opportunities for advertising. (American) Football is mandated by the rule book to have ten advertising breaks per half. Why would Fox pick up an MLS contract and show fourty-five unbroken minutes of soccer without any chances to show an ad? It's unthinkable.
posted by Plutor at 12:25 PM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Proponents of soccer officiating always gloss over the fact that in no other sport do teams have to play with fewer players after a player ejection

Rugby is the same as football. Yellow cards are brandished less, but two yellows>red card do happen.

posted by MuffinMan at 12:29 PM on June 25, 2010


Likewise, if punishment for diving with cards was more stringent, the threat of playing with less players would result in less diving.

The only place I think instant replays should play a factor would be over scoring situations, since the outcomes of games can literally hinge on one single goal. Generally, there's already a short pause in the game as the teams transition for a goal kick or whatnot. Give each side one challenge either a game or half, thus it won't happen every contested goal, either then. That would be the only time I'd think instant replay during the game would make sense.

Likewise, it might be worthwhile to have a post-game viewing by officials with at least the purpose of grading the referee for quality. Then allow that grading to positively affect the chance of the official to oversee games, particularly those of great importance. If you're going to make the referee the sole and silent arbitrator on the field, make sure that they're best out on it every time. (You could also implement some kind of warning system for players, who if they're caught excessively diving are warned to keep it in check or face some administrative penalty).

As an aside, the only detriment to the instant replay reviews in College football that I've noticed has been where there's a challenge, the instant replay reveals that the call was completely wrong, and somehow the instant replay officials keep the call as is. It's then when you ponder why the heck bother.
posted by Atreides at 12:30 PM on June 25, 2010


The red card is just such a disproportionately massive penalty against a team that of course you're going to get all kinds of diving and faking of injuries

Two factors here, I think. Firstly is that the World Cup is always refereed more strictly than other football. It's easier to get sent off, because they crack down so hard on fouls. I really don't think you see as much diving in regular league football (in the UK, anyway).

The second thing is that soccer used to be much more violent. It was harder to get sent off, but good players would get kicked off the field. If you can find them, go watch some matches from the 60s and see what sort of tackles were considered acceptable then.

I tend to think that things have swung too far the other way though.

(PS everybody should stop typing and go watch Spain-Chile, or if you can't watch it now, stay away from spoilers, and download it later).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2010


MLS is the third highest-attended (per game) professional sports league in the United States, behind the NFL and MLB,

Not particularly relevant on the soccer subject, but that's pretty impressive for the MLB considering they have so many more games than the others.
posted by smackfu at 12:51 PM on June 25, 2010


...and not all that impressive for the NHL considering they have so many American teams in ill-advised locations where the only ice to be found is in freezers, fountain drinks, and arenas. Maybe Bettman was banking on Canadian snowbirds attending games in Florida or Phoenix?
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:03 PM on June 25, 2010


languagehat: There are lots of good refs, but because of the stupid insistence that World Cup refs represent all the wonderful little countries that make up the variegated tapestry of world football, they aren't at the World Cup. This is the single worst thing about the Cup; they should imitate baseball, which at least tries to make sure the Series has good umpiring. And then when the inevitable bad calls get made, fucking Sepp Blatter says moronic things about how the controversy is good for the game.

First of all, fuck Sepp Blatter, fuck everyone who keeps him in power, and for that matter, fuck Havelange for having created the current FIFA system.

That said, that was a ridiculous thing to say, languagehat. Officiating at this World Cup has been pretty good, on the whole (with some errors) and it's not like the refs from the "little countries" have been markedly better or worse than the ones from the established soccer powers. There was an Uzbek who was great and a Spaniard who was terrible. By the same token there was a Saudi who was terrible and an Argentine who was great. FIFA does go all out to get the best referees, but sometimes it backfires terribly, like when the English Graham Poll gave a Croatian player 3 yellow cards in one match at the last World Cup.
posted by Kattullus at 2:01 PM on June 25, 2010


Brazil-Portugal was one of the weirdest games I've ever seen, if only because I saw it in two different Portuguese truck stops. I couldn't follow the commentary, but it was obvious that the game was really high scoring in yellow cards. The only thing Portugal had going for them in the first half was that if the game were scored in yellow cards, and not in goals, they would be ahead.

What astonished me wasn't the dives though (although some of those were pretty obvious, such as "Watch me slide on the ground before the defender comes anywhere NEAR me!"), it was the things the ref didn't catch. I saw a Portuguese guy grab a Brazilian guy's HEAD at one point in the second half. Either the ref didn't see it or at that point it was really far down his list of things to care about. Really brutal game - the fakery wasn't nearly as bad as some of the actual injuries (like the striker/goalie collide at the last minute. Wouldn't be surprised if the Portuguese striker actually broke his leg).
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:03 PM on June 25, 2010


My last comment was a lot harsher than it should've been. All these 7 early morning wakeups to watch the World Cup have made me crankier than necessary. I apologize
posted by Kattullus at 2:14 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, apparently 5 I now drop numbers 9 into the middle 6 of sentences.
posted by Kattullus at 2:15 PM on June 25, 2010


And the reason it isn't a household name is because it's not on national television. And the reason it's not on national television isn't because of the lack of watchers, it's because of the lack of opportunities for advertising.

This. The Wikipedia entry for MLS states that the predicted revenue for MLS from televised games (ESPN/payperview/Univision, etc) over the next 8 years is a mere $30 million, which includes ESPN and pay-per-view. By contrast, ESPN paid $1.1 billion for the broadcast rights to Monday Night Football from 2006-2011.
I noticed a few months back that our cable company (Cox) added Fox Soccer Channel to its HD lineup, so I'm hoping this is a sign that maybe soccer oriented coverage - which may be more sustainable in the long term if the networks start losing money on the skyrocketing costs of rights to American football - is finding more eyeballs and accompanying revenue stream.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:37 PM on June 25, 2010


A baseball or American football player who got caught on film acting that way would be so universally reviled, his career would probably be over.

It wouldn't happen in baseball, if only because there are no regular moments of person-to-person contact.

But in basketball, it happens with great regularity. Some players are just born to flop, some to flail, while others just wince and carry on. My local basketball team, at its pinnacle, had a great flopper and another who could take a licking and keep on ticking. Bill Laimbeer practically invented the flop. Isaiah Thomas, whatever his faults in his post-playing careers, regularly got mugged in the paint, and famously, when asked after a game about an elbow thrown by Bull's center Bill Cartwright as whether it was a foul, Thomas replied--"if the ref didn't call it, there wasn't a foul." A few minutes later in that same game, Thomas & Cartwright both got ejected, an instant "red card" for both of them.

But as to whether a faker would be reviled in American sport? I don't think so, necessarily. Kobe Bryant learned vital lessons about throwing 'bows in his one year under Karl Malone's tutelage, and is a master of flailing about at times when he is trying to create room where none exists. As far as I can tell, he is highly regarded.
posted by beelzbubba at 2:41 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


> My last comment was a lot harsher than it should've been. All these 7 early morning wakeups to watch the World Cup have made me crankier than necessary. I apologize

No problem. You're probably 7 right, and watching this unaccustomed 8 amount of television has made me 9 crankier than necessary as well.

posted by languagehat at 2:43 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


but yes, our sport is better than yours. Go hockey!

Ah, good old hockey, where the last I checked, it's still more or less legal to deliberately blindside an opponent's head with the full force of your weight, although they (the NHL) are working on it.

The problem with all of these big deal sports is that the stakes for winning/losing are just so damned high. Cheating, rule-twisting is thus inevitable. Diving just happens to be one of the easiest ways to do this in soccer. Sure it looks bad, particularly to an outsider but so does something like this. (Matt Cooke vs Marc Savard's head)
posted by philip-random at 3:47 PM on June 25, 2010


It's only that in baseball and American football, there'd be no point to faking an injury. But if there were a point, they'd do it - bet on it.

They did do it. That's why, these days, NFL teams get charged a timeout for injuries inside the two minute warning.
posted by robertc at 4:42 PM on June 25, 2010


Ah, good old hockey, where the last I checked, it's still more or less legal to deliberately blindside an opponent's head with the full force of your weight, although they (the NHL) are working on it.

I was sort of joking there. While I love hockey and watch it wherever I can find it, at times the North American version is more or less a kind of gladiator sport. I really can't defend the brawling and intentional dangerous hits in any other way than to say the crowds seem to love it. The international competitions are much better, but still you see certain guys playing dirty.

Point is, other sports have their silly moments and cheating too and we don't immediately write them off as unwatchable or ridiculous.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:05 PM on June 25, 2010


I hate the instant replay, and koeselitz's post explains why. Thank you koeselitz.
posted by Vindaloo at 3:42 AM on June 26, 2010


Apparently, americans watch football ALL THE TIME yet are utterly clueless about the game. But lots of nerds on MeFi have a really, really hard time accepting the idea that they don't know everything about everything.

Sorry about the harshness, but I'd rather be a dick than talk out of my ass.
posted by mr.marx at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2010


mr.marx: "Apparently, americans watch football ALL THE TIME yet are utterly clueless about the game."

Stop an American on the street. Ask him how many men are allowed on the field from each team at any one time in an NFL game. Ask him how many timeouts each team gets per half. Ask him what color the flag is that refs use to indicate violations. I promise that they'll average somewhere around 1/3, even though American football is the United States' most popular professional sport by far.

My point is that it shouldn't be surprising that "Americans watch (association) football more than is widely recognized" being true doesn't automatically make "the average American knows little about (association) football" false.
posted by Plutor at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2010


Besides gaming the ref, with all the running they do, once they're down on the ground, isn't there some advantage to staying down longer just to get a few more seconds of rest?

(This is my week for asking naive questions about sports on Metafilter.)

And yes, to Plutor's point - I grew up in the US, I went to more high school football games than I care to recall, but I could probably give you a better summary of the rules of soccer (which I did play a tiny bit as a kid) than US-rules football.
posted by yarrow at 1:17 PM on June 26, 2010


I hope people arguing about the laws watched Germany - England. It had a goal that didn't count, but it also had 5 more goals, rhythm for the greatest part and drama. In short, the reasons why we love football.
posted by ersatz at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2010


... the reasons why we love football.

The World Cup was invented to teach sports nuts about passionate dispassion. We scream and laugh and swear and cry ... and then go on to do it all over again for a completely different team the next day.

It's a game, guys.
posted by Surfurrus at 3:53 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


We scream and laugh and swear and cry ... and then go on to do it all over again for a completely different team the next day.

We do? Man, I've been doing it wrong all these years! Or not. While all of us enjoy soccer, the sport, not all of us are emotionally uninvested in the actual performance of the individual teams.

I watch the World Cup because I love soccer. I cheer for Italy (or against France, ahem) because I'm Italian and when I scream, laugh, swear, and cry, I do it for Italy. Nine year old me learned that lesson very well in 1994. Damn you, Roberto Baggio. Damn you.
posted by lydhre at 8:57 AM on June 28, 2010


In Chile, Jose Pedroso has just been suspended 27 games for attempting to strangle the referee, apparently because he was angry that the ref believed an opposing player's (clearly pretended) injuries were real.
posted by koeselitz at 11:35 AM on July 21, 2010


« Older Bionic feet for amputee cat...  |  Entrance Romance (It Felt Like... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments