We’ve all seen the match or the highlights by now of Jamie Vardy getting sent off for a second yellow for simulation. You all know simulation as it’s hipper street name of “diving.” Diving, that nefarious act that was once only the domain of “cheating foreigners” and Arsenal is now part and parcel of the game. Team needs a goal? Take a dive, bruv!
As with most cultural behaviors, once the indigenous population begins to engage in the behavior you get a lot more apologists than before and some even coming round to condoning the previously “heinous” act. Seriously, once upon a time it was as if the English looked upon diving about a step under committing war crimes. Break an opponent’s leg? “Sorry, mate, it’s a contact sport. Get on with it.” Dive in the box to attempt to win a penalty? “Oy ‘e’s provably mates wif Hitla, yeah?”
Diving has been with us for years now but Vardy’s dive is a type that I’ve started to notice creeping more and more into the landscape recently. Previously, diving was either a player going down to simulate contact or going down far too easily with minimal contact. But Vardy’s dive as well as in a few others that I’ve seen recently a player actively throws himself into the player such that they ensure the legs will get tangled and thus create contact knowing home fans will bay for blood. In Vardy’s case yesterday this was complete with a subtle scissoring of the legs to make sure he and the defender’s legs were entangled. This then puts all the pressure on the officials knowing full well the dim view most people take of the quality of officiating decisions these days. However, I’m not sure how anyone can watch that aforementioned clip closely and continue to argue honestly that Vardy didn’t dive. It looks very clear to me that Vardy throws himself into the defender to create unnatural contact.
Diving such as this is why I am definitely in the camp that would like to see official review panels for diving and wouldn’t be against further retroactive punishment for those that are found to be guilty of diving. If it’s really the scourge we all claim it to be the only way to remove it is to come down on it thoroughly. It certainly is no longer just a tactic of the “cheats” or certain footballing cultures where such gamesmanship has been traditionally more acceptable.
Furthermore, it’s also interesting that Vardy is controversially sent off (to Leicester fans, anyway) at a time when there was some contention in the removal of the original match official assigned to Leicester’s match because of his affiliation to the Leicester area. And as Alan Smith points out in this article that Vardy’s impending suspension may prove more costly than just the punishment of suspension. Although personally I don’t think Vardy’s absence will be quite that damning to Leicester’s chances as Leicester prefers to play on the counter and cede possession. This is provided he only misses the one match for second yellow and doesn’t incur any further punishment for “bringing the game into disrepute” which was being bandied about yesterday and earlier today.
I do wonder if Vardy now being sent off for diving if it creates further doubt in the future for potential penalty calls in Leicester matches. But if we learned anything it’s that your luck has to run out some time as Vardy has won 50/50 or controversial penalties before and at some point if you dive shit, you get banned.