10 Dives That Brought Shame on the Beautiful Game
While Netherlands winger Arjen Robben recently made an honest statement, reported on ESPN, about his simulation antics in his country’s 2-1 win against Mexico in this summer’s World Cup, there are many others of whom will continue diving to gain an advantage in games.
Robben is a repeat offender and has long been criticised for going to ground too readily, while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ashley Young are two other players well-known for how easily they go down under little contact from an opponent, according to the Telegraph.
Diving has long been a scourge in the beautiful game, but players aren’t being given punishments that prove to be effective deterrents, which means diving will continue to go on until a stern punitive measure is made.
But what incidents have been some of the worst simulations in football history? In no order, here are 10 dives that brought shame on the game.
Luis Suarez vs. Italy, 2014
While Luis Suarez’s recent bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in this summer’s World Cup has been well-documented, what hasn’t been spoken about in great depth is the Uruguayan international’s dive following the incident.
Suarez bit the Juventus centre-back on the shoulder before falling to the ground after Chiellini did, clutching the guilty teeth in question in a bid to feign injury to the referee.
Jurgen Klinsmann vs. Argentina, 1990
Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann had a reputation for diving, and his infamous leap into the air following a challenge from Pedro Monzon in the 1990 World Cup final against Argentina was certainly the one most spoken about. Monzon was red carded for the tackle, but Klinsmann’s reaction to leap into the air and subsequently roll around in apparent agony led to the referee’s decision.
Rivaldo vs. Turkey, 2002
One of the most bizarre incidents in World Cup history was during the Brazil vs. Turkey match of the 2002 tournament. Turkey’s Hakan Unsal was sent off for kicking the ball at Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo after the latter fell to ground clutching his face to fool the referee when it actually hit his thigh.
Rivaldo later received a fine of £4,500 for the incident, according to the Daily Mail.
Michael Owen vs. Argentina, 2002
Former England striker Michael Owen has admitted he dived for the Three Lions to win a penalty in an important 2002 World Cup clash against Argentina.
Via the Mirror's Darren Lewis:
I have been guilty (of diving). (Referee Pierre Luigi Collina) gave me a penalty again against Argentina (in 2002). Again, I could have stayed on my feet. The defender’s caught me and I did have a decent gash down my shin from it but I could have stayed up.
Owen went to ground in the area under little contact from Argentina defender Mauricio Pochettino, and England’s David Beckham scored the resulting penalty to earn England a 1-0 win against the South American side.
Wayne Rooney vs. Arsenal, 2004
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney found himself the subject of intense criticism after diving to win a penalty that helped his side end Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run in the top flight in 2004.
The England international rounded Arsenal defender Sol Campbell in the area before Campbell stuck a leg out to tackle Rooney and quickly retreated it so he didn’t make contact with the United striker. But Rooney went to ground and was awarded a penalty which Ruud van Nistelrooy tucked away.
Bryan Carrasco vs. Ecuador, 2011
One of the most peculiar incidents of diving was during an international U20s match between Chile and Ecuador when Chilean player Bryan Carrasco grabbed his opponent’s hand and punched himself in the face with it before going to ground in an attempt to have his Ecuador opponent sent off.
Due to embarrassment, he was quickly on his feet and didn’t protest to the referee.
Gareth Bale vs. Aston Villa, 2012
Then-Tottenham winger Gareth Bale developed a reputation for diving in the Premier League, and his infamous simulation against Aston Villa did little to help matters.
The Welsh international, who now plays for Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid, went to the ground after being pursued by Aston Villa’s goalkeeper Brad Guzan, but replays showed the USA shot-stopper was nowhere near Bale upon making his sliding challenge.
Kyle Lafferty vs. Aberdeen, 2009
Kyle Lafferty was guilty of a ridiculous dive against Aberdeen back when he was a Rangers player. The forward squared up to Aberdeen’s Charlie Mulgrew and went to the ground clutching his face as if he’d been headbutted, but replays showed there was no contact.
Mulgrew was sent off for the incident, but retrospective action saw Lafferty fined, and he did issue an apology for his actions as Mulgrew failed in his ban appeal. Per BBC Sport:
It was something I should not have done and I deeply regret what happened. I will make a personal apology to Charlie Mulgrew. I also want to apologise to the referee and his assistants.
Ashley Young vs. Aston Villa, 2012
Manchester United winger Ashley Young became mud with his former fans after diving to win a controversial penalty against Aston Villa, of whom he left for Old Trafford in 2011.
Young was running at Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark, who stuck a foot out to block the ball, but Young deliberately kicked the centre-back's foot and fell to ground to win a penalty.
United scored the spot-kick and went on to win the game 4-0 at Old Trafford, but his manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Young was gaining a reputation for diving that hadn’t been helped with his antics against Villa. Per The Guardian:
He just made the most of it. I think he played for the penalty. If the player decides to put his foot in and doesn't stay on his feet and read the situation, he has fallen into the situation. It was a dramatic fall. He overdid the fall, there's no doubt about that.
Morten Gamst Pedersen vs. Arsenal, 2009
Then-Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pederson’s dive against Arsenal was certainly one of the most comical. The Norway international looked around to see where the pursuing Bacary Sagna was before going to the ground and remonstrating to the referee for a penalty.
Replays not only showed Sagna wasn’t even close to touching him, but that Pederson kicked himself and waited a further second before making the decision to fall over and claim a foul. He later revealed what happened, via The Independent, saying:
I've seen it from different angles and it looks stupid from one of the angles – as if I just fell down. I was clipped, I lost my balance, my left calf hit my right calf and when I put my hands up it was more in frustration. I feel something and go down. It's a mix of being frustrated and tired. I'm not famous for cheating. You get a lot of players who do much worse.