Over the last month or so, the last week in particular, diving has become one of the hottest topics in the Premier League (again).
It’s not that everyone is just realising the rate at which its happening, but the shock of the inconsistency in decisions and punishments for the culprits. But will there ever be a time when diving decisions don’t stir up controversy.
In November we saw Oumar Niasse handed a retrospective two match ban for his dive against Crystal Palace. But on the other hand, the likes of Dele Alli and Manuel Lanzini, who dived for penalties last week, didn’t receive any disciplinary action.
Since coming back to the Premier League with Crystal Palace, Roy Hodgson has now seen his side on the end on both sides of this inconsistency and has admitted his disappointment:
“There is no satisfactory system so it’s always a question of what is the best you can do in terms of the current system.”
Speaking after the Niasse incident, which cost Palace a valuable three points against Everton, Hodgson said:
“I respect the decision (The retrospective ban) but it doesn’t help us a great deal because it would have been nicer if the penalty hadn’t been given”
With that in mind, it’s hard to argue that the current system isn’t satisfactory. As in the Niasse case, Crystal Palace were still held to a wrongful draw (which began their current eight games unbeaten run) and Everton were left without the striker for a couple of games.
Whereas, if the correct decision had been made he would’ve just got off with a yellow card like with Wilfried Ndidi last weekend at the King Power Stadium, although his yellow card was his second of the game. But in that case the right decision saw the right outcome at the time.
Despite the usual complaints, everyone got on with the game and there was no real controversy following the decision after the game, how it should be.
Obviously, we can’t get to this outcome all the time, but Hodgson sees the same solution that many other spectators see:
“I think often they (referees) would benefit in terms of decision making if they had the same number of angles and time that the experts have after the game.”
VAR. Already being successfully used in other sports like rugby as well as slowly being integrated into football through international friendlies and leagues like the MLS, surely, it’s becoming increasingly anticipated in the Premier League.
Giving referees further assistance in the heat of the moment to hopefully see the right decision made.
However, the Crystal Palace manager still understands that VAR won’t cut out the grey area when it comes to diving, saying:
“Like every other manager who cares about football, I’m anti diving but I’m also realistic in my thinking to know it will always happen and there’s a further point that there is something in between diving and clear penalties where players lose balance and that’s an even more difficult one for people to decide.”
So, with the possibility of some VAR decisions coming down to a matter of opinion, maybe we won’t reach one ‘satisfactory system, but with the option we can at least cut the room for error down a chunk or two.