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A solution for "simulation"

It's known as diving in hockey and simulation in soccer/football. Whatever it's called, it is poor sportsmanship, opportunism and a distortion of the spirit of sport. And what's more, it's pathetic. Watching a great match like yesterday's Argentina-Mexico second-rounder reminds me of the athleticism and grace of the "beautiful game", but seeing wincing prima donnas fall like they've been kneecapped by a baseball bat only to jump back into the game as soon as they get the free kick makes me want to scream. There has to be a solution.

Is it that there aren't enough referees on the field and you have to throw your hands in the air and face into the turf to draw a foul in order to get noticed? If that's the case, then indeed put another official on the field - it appears to be working in hockey. If this isn't a preferable solution, how about beginning to punish divers?

How would it feel to be booted out of a second-round match on a pink card violation?

Well, the players are supposed to get a yellow card when they are penalized for simulation, so a solution already exists within the rules. The problem (as it was in hockey up until last year) is a problem of enforcement. The refs aren't willing to admit that they made a mistake, and called a foul erroneously. Personally, I suspect that the problem would clear itself a bit if refs were taught to hold grudges. If a player pretends he's been shot, and then is sprinting down the field 10 seconds after the free kick, penalize him after the play. Allow off-field refs to review the play on replay and call down to the field ref if a player dove and the field ref missed it. Give the on-field ref instructions that given such a call, he must stop play and re-award the free kick to the other team, on top of booking the diver. I don't think it would take more than half a season playing with such rules in the premier divisions before players caught on and stopped pretending to be mortally wounded every time someone ran near them.

I think over the whole course of the World Cup, I've seen two cards handed out for simulation. Whereas, I've seen about 60 obvious dives in the 10 or so matches I've witnessed.

Unfortunately for the refs, they do not have the luxury of video replay and it is very difficult to call a dive (I hate the word simulation) if you do not see the infraction at the right angle. However, I have seen the refs ignoring a dive when the other team retrieves the ball. The look on the diver is very funny.
I like the idea of a second ref, as suggested by Kev. This would provide a second prespective to the infraction. I know in hockey the second ref was put in place to watch the rest of the players, the ones without the puck, as there were a lot of penalties behind or away from the play. The second ref was able to pick them off. In soccer, there are very little, if any, infractions away from the ball.
The video replay idea sounds like a good idea, but considering the number of times it would be needed it would make the matches extremely slow. The game as a whole is not a very fast game to begin with except for the occassional flurry here and there. Video replay will only slow it down even further. Will it prevent a lot of diving? probably, but the replay will have to go through some very trying growing pains. Growing pains I don't think the league nor the fans will have the patience to see through.

I wasn't envisioning a replay stoppage, but rather a replay during play. Let the game continue, but if a player is deemed to have dove, the ref on-field gets the word, blows the whistle, cards the faker, and re-awards a free kick (possibly even reversing a goal decision, should one have been scored on the wrongly assessed free kick). It really shouldn't take competent off-field officials more than 10 seconds to come to a conclusion, anyway. It wouldn't take players long to learn that if they dive, they'll be caught by an off-field official. If they dive twice, they'll be sent off.

Obviously, this would only kick in after a free kick has been awarded on a 'foul'. Those plays where the ref just waves "play on" wouldn't be affected.

Anyway, I'm just venting. FIFA would never implement such draconian measures...they see diving and faking mortal injury as a part of the game, unfortunately.

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