Eduardo has been retroactively charged by UEFA for “deceiving the referee” and I, for one, would like to embrace this charge but only under the following conditions.
First, you’ll need to have some context. The relevant rule is Article 10, Paragraph 1c of UEFA’s disciplinary handbook. It states:
Players may be suspended for two competition matches, or for a specified period, for acting with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision or supporting his error of judgment and thereby causing him to make an incorrect decision.
That’s pretty clear, if you dive to win a penalty, UEFA can go back and look at the video tape and give you a two-match ban, or more. Interestingly, this has actually been tested by UEFA: Saulius Mikoliunas missed two Euro 2008 matches for home country Lithuania after video evidence was used to prove he dived against, of all countries, Scotland in their 3-1 win. Evidently, Scotland suffers from the indignity of divers more than any other country.
The Mikoliunas dive is a bit different than Eduardo’s dive in that the match against Scotland was 1-0 at the time of the dive and the contact between Mikoliunas and the Scottish defender even less than the contact between Eduardo and Boruc. Mikoliunas dived at a crucial moment, in a crucial match and earned his team a penalty. Eduardo’s dive was no where near as crucial. But, again, I’m embracing this action and in fact I don’t think it goes far enough.
Now that we’re headed down the road of video replay I think that all sorts of simulation should be examined and I think retroactive bans for all acts of simulation in UEFA sanctioned matches should be imposed: whether they resulted in a penalty or just a free kick. As long as the player’s actions resulted in the referee making a wrong decision, UEFA should examine the tapes, and ban the offending player for two or more games.
Ryan Babel’s dive in the Champions League? Clear simulation, the referee was duped, Liverpool didn’t do anything to deny the penalty, therefore he gets a 2 match retroactive ban. To do anything less would be harsh on Arsenal since up to now the penalty for diving has ranged from the ref ignoring the infraction to a yellow card.
And as I have said many times before, I would even go further. It’s easy to wipe out plain old fashioned diving. The kind where video replays show that there was no contact and the player was already on his way down. The hard stuff, and the more important infractions, are the ones where the player “makes a meal” of light contact. So, under my plan, the Mascherano/Aliadiere incident, had it taken place in a UEFA sanctioned event, would see Javier Mascherano suspended for two games for simulation, maybe more since he’s a serial offender. There’s no way that Liverpool’s hard man goes down with the supposed facial injuries he intimated after Aliadiere brushes his face like that. It’s was an obviously exaggerated reaction intended to dupe the referee into thinking the contact was harder than it actually was and since the referee gave the red card to Aliadiere, the simulation must be punished.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about how it doesn’t make any sense that diving on video is a 2+ match ban while diving in real life usually results in the referee waving play on and occasionally, I’m talking maybe 2 times a year, the referee will hand out a yellow card. So, since we’re all in agreement that referees are incapable of making real time decisions, and what we want is the perfectly fair game, and we want to stamp out this pernicious cheating; we need to just go ahead and after every match use video to issue retroactive yellow and red cards for dives that DO NOT result in deception of the referee. After every UEFA sanctioned match there should be a team of Video Referees watching every moment of every game rewinding, and watching over and over, the match action. Issuing yellow or red cards for harsh tackles that went unpunished and yellow or red cards for simulations that went unpunished. After all, what we can’t have are instant replays and decisions made on the spot. We can only use video days or even weeks after the match, to re-referee the matches and dole out the appropriate punishment.
I’m not suggesting that we should go back to time immemorial, just a year, or hell, even 6 months. If we did that, Ryan Babel would be out for 2 matches and I’m sure if we look at all the video, Christiano Rolando won’t be allowed to play in the Champions League at all this season.
Tony Cascarino agrees with me and we all know what a fan I am of him. Tony thinks that the only way to stamp out this cheating is to look at video ex-post-facto. Because only a crazy person would suggest that it would be fairer for the match official, say the fourth official, to go over to a monitor and see that Eduardo dived and then (on the spot) issue a yellow card. No! What we need is for a game altering decision to be made after the match and for the punishment to be far harsher. Simulation, after all, is too important to get right on the spot.
I mean, if we’re going to retroactively ban people using video replay, let’s do it right. Let’s let one team win the game and THEN go back and start banning people. It’s the only fair thing to do.