Like it or not, those pesky foreign types won the diving war a long time ago. Long gone are the days when England fans would foam at the mouth whenever a referee booked Stuart Pearce for jumping two-footed into a striker’s standing leg. Now it’s just taken for granted that the ‘injured’ party will perform some sort of theatrical routine usually reserved for a 13-year-old Chinese gymnast that will result in either a red or yellow card depending on the performance.
So while most football fans may well applaud Sydney FC’s moralistic “no diving” policy, in reality it’s a load of bollocks that will inevitably come back to bite them on the ass – whether it be through missing out on a penalty, or an inability to sign any striker from continental Europe or South America who relies on that side of the game for half their goals.
Unfortunately for Sydney, or more specifically their players, the club has backed itself into a corner. After getting on their moral high horse in the wake of the game against Melbourne Victory when Roddy Vargas gave a stirring rendition of Swan Lake to get Mark Bridge sent off, they would look like tools if they didn’t back up their words.
Step forward defender Shannon Cole, the first player to be fined by the club for diving:
”I knew I did the wrong thing as soon as I hit the ground, so I got up without asking for a penalty,” Cole said after Sydney’s game with Gold Coast. ”I was expecting to be fouled when he came across but after going to the ground I realised straight away he had not fouled me.”
By Peter Simpson and Richard Gadsby