Some players have always gone down too easily, there is no denying that, and it happens on numerous occasions in every game but the spotlight comes in high profile situations.
Speculation has been rife in recent weeks, especially with the actions of Manchester United’s Ashley Young. The pacy winger has won his side two crucial penalties in their title run-in despite clearly going to ground far too easily on both occasions.
But he and the United fans will argue that there was contact in the box. So is the middle ground clear enough of should things be made clearer to fans, players and referees.
Admittedly when running at full speed any sort of touch can put you off balance but surely a little nudge shouldn’t result in a player flying through the air to try and win his side a penalty. Whilst any contact is made, however, referees are always left with a dilemma. It must be so frustrating for a referee to see a player go down far too easily but still be left with little choice other than point to the spot because contact was made.
In a situation similar to Ashley Young against QPR, Franck Ribery went down in the box after minimal contact from Sergio Ramos in tonight’s Champions League semi final clash. Yet English referee Howard Webb made a brave call to deny the home side a penalty but he didn’t book the Frenchman for diving. That seems to beg the question whether there is a different brief for officials for European matches as for the Premier League or, more likely, it is just Howard Webb’s refereeing style.
Arguably the most frustrating situations are those where players deliberately kick their opponent’s foot and fall to the ground. This is plain and simple cheating. The job is difficult enough for officials without players dishonestly making it look at first glance like a defender has tripped them when it is clear the forward is conning the ref (Danny Welbeck v Chelsea for example…)
This issue will always rage on but if the situation isn’t looked at, Ashley Young and others will keep winning penalties the way they do and the beautiful game of football will become more and more of a non-contact sport.