English soccer’s governing body approved a new rule on Thursday that would slap a two-game suspension on any player whose dive made a pivotal impact on the game. The rule, called “Successful Deception of a Match Official,” can only be applied retroactively, however, which has one Premier League manager crying, well, foul.
“It’s utter rubbish,” former England manager and current head of Crystal Palace Sam Allardyce said (via the BBC).
“What about the lad who gets booked who didn’t dive?” he asked, referring to the diver’s opponent who, despite having done nothing wrong, either gets booked with a yellow or sent out of the game by the referee at the time of the simulation.
“You’re gonna say, ‘Oh, that’s unlucky,’ or, ‘Next time, we’ll try to get that right,’ ” he continued, offering an alternative idea instead.
“So bring technology in, and we can look at it on the day,” Allardyce said, referring to video replay, which world soccer has resisted due to fears that it would disrupt the rhythm of the game. Allardyce advocated for an in-game “sin bin,” or penalty box, where players found guilty of diving on instant replay could sit in for 10 minutes before being brought back on.
Allardyce’s idea is not new. The concept of a “sin bin” for certain yellow-card offenses is something soccer rulemaking bodies have been contemplating for nearly two decades. The England Football Association, the entity that passed the retroactive diving rule, even decided to experiment with the sin bin next season in the country’s seventh-tier nonleague level, ESPN FC reported earlier this month. But because the experiment won’t also incorporate video replay, fouls such as successfully feigning an injury won’t be punishable with a timeout.
For Allardyce and others who have advocated for the introduction of in-game video replay, the trial doesn’t go far enough because it wouldn’t prevent games from being altered due to player dishonesty.
One of the most infamous cases of a dive altering a Premier League game happened on Nov. 9, 2013, when Chelsea midfielder Ramires dramatically fell to the ground after West Bromwich Albion defender Steven Reid barely brushed him. Down 2-1 against underdog West Brom with just a minute to go in stoppage time, Ramieres dramatization led to a yellow card for Reid and a penalty kick for Chelsea, which allowed the Blues to end the game in a 2-2 draw.
Caught on camera, television audiences at home were stunned the referee believed Ramires, who got away with the trick.
Under the new rule, Ramires, who now plays in China, would be punished with a two-game suspension, but the outcome of the game would remain the same.
While some players might say the benefits of diving outweigh the risks in certain situations, the FA is hoping the new rule will act as a deterrent for this type of behavior.
When a dive that changed the game is suspected, the FA will convene a three-person panel — an ex-referee, ex-manager and ex-player — who will examine video footage of the incident and make a final decision. If the panel unanimously concludes the player simulated the foul, he will receive a two-game ban.
Likewise, the association said it can also rescind any cautions or dismissals shown to the diver’s opponent, meaning that if he was previously subject to a suspension due to an undeserving red card, that ban will be immediately lifted.
There’s already a similar rule on the books in Scotland, which is where the FA got the idea, according to the Independent.
Called simply Rule 201 by the Scottish Football Association, the rule was introduced in 2011 and has been applied a handful of times, including this season when Heart of Midlothian star Jamie Walker served a two-game suspension for an egregious dive that resulted in a penalty against Celtic in August.