While athletes across the board are known for faking injuries to get ahead, soccer players have become notorious for throwing themselves to the ground and writhing in pain at the slightest bump from another player.

The FIFA World Cup 2018, which kicked off on the 14th of June in Russia, has already seen its fair share of questionable injuries. In the very first week of the tournament, Lucas Hernandez (France) admitted to feigning injury in France’s game against Australia, in an effort to get Mathew Leckie sent off the field.


So why is it that soccer players take a dive and fake injuries? The obvious answer is: for the player to obtain an advantage over the opposing team, which could result in an opposition player receiving a red or yellow card and being sent off the field. Another favourable result is the ‘injured’ player’s team winning a free kick. This assists the player and his team in getting ahead in the game, even though it is a dirty way to go about it.

‘Diving’ can have its drawbacks because if done too often, it can damage a player’s reputation as it is technically illegal. Some of the other reasons for soccer players going to such lengths for a potentially small reward are listed below:

It’s in our genes

Behaviourists have put in much effort to determine why diving is such a widespread phenomenon in football. It appears as if the reason may be genetic. In many instances in the animal world, animals use deception to get ahead. For example, fiddler crabs are known to mimic healthier versions of themselves, and many bird species are known to play dead when predators loom overhead. Perhaps this survival instinct of deception is so ingrained in us that we cannot even escape it in the world of sports.

They can get away with it

Even though some flops and dives may look feigned beyond belief, players keep doing it because they can simply get away with it! You would think that referees would be more aware of the spectacle, but the opposite is true. An Australian study revealed that a player acting victim close to a referee was three times more likely to be awarded a free kick than a player writhing on the floor a little further away. The results also revealed that players are twice as likely to dive when a game is tied as opposed to when their team is winning or losing.

What FIFA has to say about the Issue

FIFA refers to diving as ‘simulations’ and asks referees to issue yellow cards to all players who create these simulations. However, it can be quite difficult to assess what is deemed as worthy of a yellow card and what is genuinely foul play. Unfortunately, the only way to put an end to faking injury is in the hands of the referees. For sure, it needs to start being penalised more often as opposed to rewarded. With modern video technology, it has become much easier to scrutinise a situation involving a flop and therefore make an accurate decision.

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