Divers Suarez and Bale shame football, but honesty can pay
After more theatrics at the weekend, is it time to take action against simulation?
LIVERPOOL striker Luis Suarez is at the centre of another Premier League controversy after he was caught diving during his team’s match against Stoke at the weekend. Potters boss Tony Pulis has demanded Suarez be banned for play-acting.
Hand-wringing over so-called ‘simulation’ only intensified after Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers sprang to the defence of his player. "There seems to be one set of rules for Luis and another set for everyone else," he said, pointing out that Suarez had been stamped on earlier in the game and that incident had not made the headlines.
"Diving and simulation is a wider issue in football - one we all agree has to be eradicated - but there were other incidents this weekend that didn't seem to generate the same coverage," he added.
But the actions of Suarez, and Spurs winger Gareth Bale who also indulged in theatrics at the weekend, were "well beyond the realms of self-parody," says James Lawton in The Independent.
"What is needed, of course, is someone with the minimal guts required to stand up for the name of football, to say that its relentless cheapening has reached perilously close to a point of no return," he writes. He also attacks the "putrefying failure of the clubs to look at themselves".
"And so the carousel bobs round again," moans Sean Ingle in The Guardian. "Same names and offences. Same outcries and frustrations. Hot air on radio chat-shows; frigid indifference from those in power." He outlined the various options available to help stamp out diving, from introducing extra refs to using live video evidence, and finds problems with all of them.
But the one that has absolutely no chance of success, he says, is hoping that players and managers will simply stop diving. "The stakes are too high these days."
Or are they? Henry Winter in The Daily Telegraph notes that Manchester City won the title in dramatic style on the final day of last season when Sergio Aguero scored after staying on his feet in the penalty area.
"Aguero's honesty was rewarded in spectacular fashion," he reflects. "It is, of course, a sadness that a quality that should be taken as standard, namely not stooping to simulation, is deemed worthy of celebration but such is the oft-nefarious nature of football."
Suarez, and other well-known divers, may also suffer because of their reputations. "Suarez does dive and, as well as costing him his reputation, it is costing his team," says Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail.
"Referees no longer feel they can trust him. They suspect his actions are rarely genuine. Hence the 25-year-old was denied a clear penalty at Norwich nine days ago and another when he was shoved by Robert Huth on Sunday. Suarez on the ground? He must be play-acting. That's the thought process of many officials currently and it is hard to blame them."