Here we go again. A World Cup elimination game decided by an illegal play. But this one is of a different character than when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez used his hands to slap away a sure game-winning goal by Ghana. Suarez’s action was forthright, against the rules, duly penalized, but smart. Bad for the game, but not something one could brand as unethical. I proposed a rule change that would eliminate such plays.
But when Netherlands star Arjen Robben fell to the ground, writhing in pretended pain from pretended contact from the Brazilian defender (diving, in world footballspeak), he cheapened the game. The referee was fooled by Robben’s deception into awarding Holland a free kick, which was converted into the deciding goal in a 2- 1 win that ended Brazil’s hopes of another championship.
Robben cheated, and it got his team into the semi-finals against Uruguay, who they beat, 3-2. Now only Spain stands between the Dutch and the championship. It’ll be sad for the game if the Dutch win, their trophy forever tarnished by the way they won it.
There are three ways to reduce the incentive for players to dive: (more…)