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Why diving makes hypocrites of all of us!

We the English hate divers! It doesn’t matter how many times, players, managers, pundits, journos, ex-players and ex-managers tell us it’s part of the game, we still don’t like it. Maybe it’s mild xenophobia,” it’s those tricky foreigners up to no good,” but the truth is everyone is at it. Even solid citizens, no nonsense reliable Englishmen have tried it. Phil Neville attempted to dive whilst playing for Everton and got booked, ( he did admit it was probably the worst dive ever), and earlier this season Mark Noble was booked for simulation, if these guys are trying it, then it’s true everyone is at it.
This weekend, once again it became big news. Did Lovren push him? Did Calvert-Lewis dive? Thousands of fans from each side of the argument have weighed in with their opinion, this subject raises emotions. In my opinion Calvert-Lewin looked for a penalty and Lovren was gullible enough to push him. In the Manchester derby more of the same, did Herrera dive or not. The ref certainly thought so, everyone else is divided, of course you could say that Herrera is a victim of his own reputation and behaviour, he goes down so easily and so often, that it’s easy to assume any genuine foul is more of the same.
Why then does diving make hypocrites of us all? If Dele Ali dives and wins a penalty in the World Cup final and England win one nil. I will calmly admit it was a dive but also gleefully celebrate as if, well, as if we’ve won the World Cup. I am not being hypocritical there, I know it was a dive but I would be celebrating the win not the dive even if the win was gained by nefarious means. If the ball strikes a players chest but the ref gives England a penalty I would again admit it isn’t a penalty but enjoy the triumph.
No, diving makes hypocrites out of us when we act like it’s the most heinous crime. A clever yellow card that stops play and prevents a good break materialising, that’s a, “good foul”, he has ,”taken one for the team.” We appreciate that play, even applaud, if it stops a dangerous looking break. We acknowledge the players football brain, but the truth is, it’s cheating! You are not allowed to kick or block a player even if they do look like breaking fast and creating a goal scoring opportunity! A big tackle can change the flow of the game, so can a big foul. You here cries of, “let him know you’re there”,” get your tackle in early”, “ get stuck in”, “go through him”,etc. We call out to our team to commit fouls! We never call out, “dive”, “roll over”. We might after the moment say,” he should have gone down there,” but even then we would probably follow up with something like,”they would have”, or,”everybody’s doing it”.
What is it in our psyche then, that accepts fouls as OK but not diving? Is it historical? Or some misplaced notion that it is a mans game and getting kicked is part of that. We celebrate our thugs, Vinnie Jones, Roy Keane etc. will become more loved pantomime villains, the more the memory of their playing style recedes but we should remember they ended players careers. We revile our divers, Franny Lee is still frowned upon, Michael Owen achieved the distinction of being really successful and loved by no one.
Here then, in a nutshell are the facts, we don’t hate cheating, in fact we accept it as part and parcel of the game but we do hate diving. Hypocrites, the lot of us!

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