Hanging Judge: Referees must deal with the pestilence of cheating and diving

Dr Errol Sweeney
Dr Errol Sweeney

I would speculate that some form of cheating, deception and hoodwinking has been around since time immemorial, and not only in sport.

The need and desire to win, it appears, seems to far outweigh the decency of fair competition.

Reward, whether monetary or material, is the driving force and would appear to have been a human failing since time began.

Of particular interest to this writer is the blatant and flagrant flouting of the laws of the game when it comes to football.

The lengths to which some players go to get that all-important win for their team or club seems to know no bounds. Deliberately diving when near or in the penalty area is becoming a regular occurrence. And what’s even more sad is that certain referees are falling for this practice.

If at any time you hear a strange, erratic and emotional voice coming through your TV from an unknown source, you can bet your life that it’s probably me.

Firstly, I get so irritated and angry watching these goings-on. Secondly, and more unbelievably, I’m seeing referees falling for it.

The slightest touch by one player on another seems to be the criteria to win a free kick.

I suppose one cannot blame the players. They are quite obviously getting away with it, so why not keep doing it?

The match officials just don’t seem to have the guts to say in a clear and unambiguous voice, “No, no, no, play on”.

There was a game in the Premier League recently during which an England player from one of the top teams deliberately conjured up a trip of himself, went down and the referee awarded a penalty.

The “offender” wasn’t within half a metre of the “victim”.

It was as clear as day that the player hadn’t been touched, but the penalty was awarded, much to the annoyance of the opponent and his team-mates. What was even more disgusting was that the cheater got up unapologetically and as calm as you like, stepped up and converted the spot kick.

His team-mates knew it wasn’t a penalty, he knew it wasn’t a penalty, the whole world and their dogs knew it wasn’t a penalty. But it was awarded and converted and a cheater got away scot-free.

Thankfully, in the overall scheme of things, it didn’t really affect the outcome of the game, but it might have been a single goal that won the game and that’s the sad part of this whole sordid affair.

Certainly with the video assistant referee, that would not happen, but it did and it’s one of the most unsavoury aspects of the modern game that needs to be dealt with.

I have to admit that there are certain men in black (not the women, they are more upstanding and honest) who give in to the whims and cries of these overrated, overpaid, prima donnas – some of whom appear to be acting with impunity.

It’s our job as match officials to make sure that they get only what they are entitled to, and nothing more.

I wonder if sin bins would solve the problem. I wonder if a player who deliberately dives or cheats to try to gain an unfair advantage gets 10 minutes in the sin bin – would it send out the right message? I wonder, I wonder!

The referee’s job is to see that everyone on the field of play gets a fair “crack of the whip” and to ensure that the game is played according to the laws of the game.

The sooner referees stand up to these cheaters and divers, the better it will be for all concerned.

Will they? Mmm … the jury’s out on that one.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

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