Diving in football is nothing new. Turn on a Premier League match and you are bound to see at least one player dive for a foul over the course of the 90 minutes.  Many say because everyone does it, diving is okay. Others argue that it ruins the integrity of the game by cheating referees into giving away undeserved free kicks. No matter how you feel about diving, we call all agree that it has become just another accepted part of Premier League football.

In my limited free time this weekend, I decided to flip on the Tottenham v. Man United game, hoping for a heavyweight bout between two sides looking to secure a place in the top 4. I was looking forward to some quality football and instead all I got was an obvious dive from one of the league’s most upstanding players that wiped off Man United’s opening goal. I respect Son for both his footballing talent and what he had to go through to reach the top of the sport, but his actions on Sunday don’t exactly boost his moral character. However egregious Son’s dive was, I think the main perpetrator of the Premier League’s diving problem isn’t the players at all: it’s the referees.

After the Son incident, there were a lot of fingers pointed at Premier League players for continuing to dive even though it’s pretty clearly against the rules of the game. On the other hand, it was clear to some that the EPL’s refereeing system was to blame for the repeated flopping. Watford’s Troy Deeney, who now plays in the Championship after several years in the top flight, told TalkSport that going down is the only way to get calls these days. “You are told to go down if there’s contact…managers will tell you, refs will tell you,” Deeney said. I completely understand Deeney’s point of view. Seriously, when’s the last time you saw a penalty without the striker going down in the box. The system is such that players are encouraged to go down in order to alert the referees of a foul, even if none occurred. Yes, there is an integrity problem if players are willing to cheat to get calls, but then again, if those making the rules are telling players to dive, can it really be considered cheating?

Then there’s VAR, which also plays a role in the Premier League’s diving issues. So on Sunday, Son goes down and the referee disallows the Man United goal that occurred right after. Naturally, there was a VAR check to ensure everything was refereed correctly. Upon a further look, it was clear Son went down easily and just about everyone agreed the United’s goal should stand. Of course, that’s not what happened. The goal was not given and controversy ensued. If VAR just made the right call, we wouldn’t be talking about diving at all. And that’s really what I’m saying. We have to be honest and admit that diving is a part of football. At the same time, we should acknowledge that the reason why it’s become such a problem in the Premier League is because fouls aren’t being refereed correctly.

Featured image: Sky Sports
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