Friday, September 3, 2010

A-League types will be stunned by opposition to their anti-diving crusade, but it's the moral thing to do

I play Masters football with a guy who came back to the game last year after 20 playing rugby league for the biggest team in our local area. He walked into the local club after a recent game and the league boys were there. Where you been? Playing soccer. "Do any diving?" they chorused.
We all know simulation is a blight. Newspapers, particularly in England, have campaigned against it, Grosso (or That Cheating Italian as he's known to the majority of our casual sports watchers) smashed us with it, Denilson made it a little dirty for us all to be football fans.
We're sick of justifying it and sick of fans of other Australian codes sneering at us.
So what do we football fans do when we get a chance to make a clear point, one possibly considered around the world? We bottle it. We line up the loudest voices in the game to decry the FFA for acting in haste. Tonight, Robbie Slater claimed Mariner Perez was wronged by his suspension and the fans were cheated.
Yet in the case of Perez and Baird, there is absolutely no doubt that they flung themselves theatrically to ground. There is, however doubt, over the contact they might have received.
Some of the voices are the same who defended Danielle De Rossi at the World Cup when a slight tug on his shirt saw him dive disgracefully full length and 'earn' his team a penalty and a draw with New Zealand.
I can only imagine Ben Buckley and his team's thoughts this week. I assume they thought they were doing a fine and noble deed by bringing some type of resolution to a debate which has grown in volume but gone absolutely nowhere. They would have expected to been lauded throughout the country - the men who stopped the soccer cheats.
As an AFL man you know what Buckley's personal view on diving would be. His head of media is a rugby league man - a Parramatta fan above all - and there is no tolerance, no culture, of diving in that game. For them there is no doubt: this is the right thing to do. The sport is failing to connect in the Australian community and they must act on this. Putting an end to the disgrace of diving is a valid cause. 
Forget the technicalities and short term pain for the greater good. Ban the divers. These two might not have been the worst examples ever, but you have to start somewhere and it's a sign of strength that the FFA started at all.

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