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Arsene Wenger Calls for Diving Committee as Sam Allardyce Slams Jose Mourinho

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2014

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger takes to the touchline before his team's English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes a diving committee should be formed to retrospectively punish players who try to simulate fouls to earn free-kicks and penalties.

Premier League bosses Jose Mourinho and Sam Allardyce continue to squabble over their perceived notions of what constitutes diving and good refereeing, following the Portuguese's recent claim that there is a "campaign" against Chelsea.

Wenger has called for an independent panel to settle issues like the ones currently irking Allardyce and Mourinho, according to Daily Mirror reporter John Cross:

There should be a panel and punish only obvious cases, but not mixed ones. And the most suited to this (panel) are people who have an experience in the game.

Naming alone doesn't work. You have to suspend the players. don't know for how long. It depends. I am not a specialist in this kind of thing.

But the Gunners chief also cautioned that not every diving case is clear cut. This is a key issue when it comes to handing out any retrospective punishments.

Judging whether there's been a deliberate attempt to simulate will be a tricky business. After all, how do you adequately prove intent, particularly after the fact?

Wenger knows how difficult it would be to prove diving in every case.
Wenger knows how difficult it would be to prove diving in every case.Steve Bardens/Getty Images

But that would be an issue for any committee, like the one Wenger proposes, to define. What is clear is that most figures within the game would like to see a mechanism in place for dealing with diving.

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It's a form of cheating that's symptomatic of the cynicism rife within the modern game. Diving is part of the accepted practice of so-called "gamesmanship," that charming phrase applied to on-pitch behaviour and tactics that are anything but.

The issue has once again been brought to the forefront by Chelsea boss Mourinho, ironically the poster boy for football's modern era. Mourinho was agitated after West Ham manager Allardyce was critical of defender Branislav Ivanovic's apparent playacting during Chelsea's 2-0 win over the Hammers on Boxing Day.

Mourinho was rightly incensed by decisions made during Chelsea's draw at Southampton.
Mourinho was rightly incensed by decisions made during Chelsea's draw at Southampton.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Mourinho's irritation boiled over after Cesc Fabregas was booked for a dive that was anything but during the recent 1-1 draw at Southampton. That decision, admittedly a very poor one, prompted Mourinho to blame Allardyce's earlier complaints for influencing referee Anthony Taylor against the Saints, per Sky Sports:

Of course (it has influenced the referee). That's a campaign, that's a clear campaign. People, pundits, commentators, coaches from other teams – they react with Chelsea in a way they don't react to other teams.

It's more than a little rich for Mourinho to talk about influencing future referees when his latest comments could be considered to be doing the same thing. That's a view Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has endorsed, suggesting Mourinho has "planted a seed for the rest of the season."

Neville seemed to consider this accepted practice for title-chasing teams. There's that cynicism again. There's very little point in trying to blot out things like diving when attitudes like this are still pervasive in the game.

Influencing referees, future or not, from the touchline or a post-match interview, is surely no better than a player attempting to do it by diving across the pitch.

For his part, Allardyce has moved quickly to mock Mourinho's suggestion his team are victims, according to Daily Star reporter Tim Gray: "Name and shame them? What's he on about?"

Ironically, after lamenting Mourinho for groaning about decisions given against Chelsea, Allardyce went on to bemoan ones he felt weren't given in favour of the Hammers. Specifically, Allardyce referenced what he thought was a justified penalty that West Ham's Morgan Amalfitano wasn't awarded during the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Boxing Day.

The truth is the manager doesn't exist who doesn't believe his team could receive a fairer shake from referees. This is also not the first time Mourinho and Allardyce have bickered publicly.

Allardyce and Mourinho have had more than a few wars of words.
Allardyce and Mourinho have had more than a few wars of words.Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

When the Hammers earned a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, Mourinho referred to Allardyce's defensive tactics as "19th century football," a statement dripping with irony.

But their spat aside, the issue of diving and what to do about it, isn't going away. Wenger's suggestion to form a committee for retrospective action is a natural one, but it's not without some inherent difficulties.

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