In the Women’s World Cup (soccer) quarter-finals Brazil led the US 2-1 with time running out. Brazilian defender Erika (Brazilian players don’t use their last names, presumably because they’re so famous: think Kobe. Wilt, Magic, Manny, etc) faked injury and fell to the ground, writhing and moaning. The delay would rob the Americans of the slim chance they had to tie the game.
Erika was carried off the field strapped to a stretcher, then, once off the field, rolled off the stretcher and raced back into play. (Video here) Not so fast: the referee gave her a yellow card and put three extra minutes back on the clock. The US scored in the extra time, and won on tie-breaker penalty kicks.
The referee got it right this time. Unfortunately the referees don’t get it right every time, and soccer has no instant replay. As a result games often turn on “diving”—falling to the ground to make the ref think you’ve been fouled. Soccer should take the simple step needed to disincentivize diving: (more…)