Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Eduardo Dive

Eduardo dove. He did not call out for a penalty. Perhaps he was trying to prevent injuring himself or the goalie. But he did not try to correct the referee’s interpretation that it was a foul.

There was no legitimate contact. It was a moment that could have changed the outcome of the game — after all it gave Arsenal the first goal. A two match ban is legitimate.

However I have two problems with this rule and its implementation.

First, UEFA allows video evidence to penalize a player for something a referee did not see. But it will not allow video evidence to overturn a referee’s decision: i.e. Abidal’s and Fletcher’s suspensions from the final in Rome (both were excluded on penalties which really were not penalties). This rule on simulation and its implementation just smacks of hypocrisy.

Second, what is to stop every team from claiming ’simulation’ when a player goes down, even if ‘diving’ is the only way to arrest a referee’s attention to the fact that a foul was committed? FIFA and UEFA have come a long way from the days when two footed tackles and challenges from behind were committed. By giving fouls referees protect players from injury. The game today is played at such a fast pace, which makes it elegant and exciting, but also makes it easier for players to get injured. The game needs to protect its athletes from injury (i.e.: Eduardo, who lost a year and a half to a horrific tackle).

It seems to me that the best solution is one that FIFA has been experimenting with — putting extra officials behind the back lines in order to act as extra sets of eyes. An extra official behind the goal would have had the angle to see that the goalie in this instance made no substantial contact with Eduardo and could have advised the referee and allowed for the referee to make the correct decision: a yellow for Eduardo and play on.

To follow up on my first objection, above, the English FA will review video evidence and can increase or decrease the penalties for on pitch behavior appropriately.