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Diving Culture and Play Acting in Professional Football

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Football is a beautiful sport.  Like any other sport, the beauty lies in fair and stiff competition. The rapid growth of diving culture and play-acting has tainted the game we love.

So what is Diving Culture and play-acting? Being a contact sport, a game of football is prone to constant fouls and violations. These are part of the game and a set of laws have been developed to protect players from injuries. However, there is a clear line between physicality and fouling. Physicality and aggression within the laws of the game are what make football entertaining and passionate. However, today we have seen players manipulate the very laws made to protect them.

neymar diving
Image Source: Twitter.com

Players wait for the slightest contact and hit the turf as if they’ve been run over by a bulldozer. Not only do they go down very easily, but they also indulge in fake cries of pain. The referee is often pressurized into giving a foul and showing a card to the offender simply because of the diving and play-acting of the victim.

I have always been an advocate of the win at all costs mentality. But even that mentality has its limits. The spirit of sport overshadows any trophy or cup. It is what makes the world fall in love with the game. Players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lionel Messi, Paul Scholes, Nemanja Vidic, and countless other football legends have been role models when it comes to the spirit of the game. These players do not draw unnecessary contact and jump five feet into the air when they’re nudged from behind.

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Football today needs more players like these. Almost every professional footballer today is guilty of diving at play-acting. A most recent example was the embarrassing display of play-acting by Erik Lamela against Manchester United last Sunday. These footballers we watch on TV are role models to every kid around the world who hopes to be a professional footballer someday. A majority of today’s footballers are setting a very bad example for our future stars. The lesson being taught is that play-acting and diving are necessary to win.

The beauty of the game is being demolished step by step. The introduction of VAR has removed the element of human error and judgment from the game and forced referees to adhere to a very strict set of rules with no flexibility. Diving and play-acting also destroy the flow of the game. Players claim fouls for the slightest of contact and there is no momentum to the game.

While there is not much we can do to change this, we can only hope that the professionals that we look up to and respect so much realize the plight of their ways and consciously make an effort to eradicate diving from our sport. It must be taught to kids from the academy level itself. The culture needs to change and it is not an easy process. But it is necessary to bring authenticity back to football. Winning is important but what’s more important is winning fairly.

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