It’s a nail-biting, hair-pulling, neck-sweating World Cup knockout match. You might be on the sofa with your hand gripping the remote, but we all know that you’d rather be on the field doing a much better job than those guys are doing. I know, I know, I get you, because I’m exactly the same. We’re all big talkers in the comfort of our living rooms, but we’re no match against the stars who turn the pitch into 90 minutes of sheer awesomeness.
World Cup 2018
Putting aside their sensational soccer (football, if you wish) skills, there’s something else that my friends and I have been discussing recently, and it has nothing to do with playing soccer. There’s a big question, and it needs to get an answer. Why are all the players falling over at the World Cup in Russia? I mean, seriously! Players are falling over like the field is made of butter, and to make matters worse, it’s like there are 200-mile-per-hour winds just knocking them off their feet. And then once they hit the ground they put on a more aggravating production than Leonardo DiCaprio could ever have attempted to get an Oscar. So, what gives?
Some people (my wife included) seem to be asking, “Why on Earth would you dive when you were hardly touched?” And now for the answer – the one I told my wife and the one that still couldn’t convince her. Getting a penalty or a free kick. That’s it, usually. While we might be led to believe that the players are looking for our sympathy, they’re not. Players are looking to get one person’s attention – the referee’s. Those spot kicks could be the difference between a win and a lose. An offense worthy of a penalty could potentially send a player off the field too, so why wouldn’t they perform for the sake of gaining a potential additional goal?!
Let’s look at some fascinating facts about divers/floppers/fallers/cry-babies… what? Research has found that soccer players will usually dive when they’re closer to the referee rather than when they are farther away. Next, the chance of a player diving is much higher when the two teams are running a tie – that’s right, not winning and not losing. Additionally, players will most likely dive more often in the opposition’s penalty box than any other place on the pitch. This all makes us wonder – why do the referees fall for this kind of nonsense? If they know that players are diving without even being fouled, why are they rewarding this type of behavior?
A Gentleman’s Game
Soccer is often referred to as “a gentleman’s game”, and those that still call it that are mostly outraged by the petty diving going on in matches. Most rugby fans will gladly tell you that rugby is a man’s sport, and soccer, well, soccer is for pansies. But don’t worry, there’s good news for those that can’t stand it as much as they can’t stand Luis Saurez’s bunny smile – referees are picking up. If you haven’t noticed yet, in Russia 2018, match officials have been cracking down on fake falls and petty cries for penalties. The refs are simply motioning to the players (actors/ performers… you choose) to “get up”. And if the decision is a tough one to make, there’s always VAR (video assistant referee).
Fallers And Foulers
So, we can all take a deep breath and calm down. Neymar is going to fall and roll over (at least 3 more times than he should) again and again. But we should be glad to know that these performers are no longer lugging a secret weapon. We’re on to them and the referee is on to them. I’d say it’s high time these soccer players actually started playing soccer!