PFA chief Taylor warns players: Diving must stop
Published 16:09 16/04/12 By MirrorFootball
Players union boss Gordon Taylor has warned his members that blatant diving and playacting cannot be tolerated in the game.
A number of high-profile players have been accused of diving in recent weeks with Manchester United's Ashley Young twice the subject of attention.
Young was accused of going down too easily to win a penalty in yesterday's Barclays Premier League win over Aston Villa, a week after a similar incident in a controversial defeat of QPR.
Taylor has not commented on individual incidences but does feel that, generally, strong measures need to be put in place to prevent cheating.
Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said: "When it is blatant, when players are feigning injury or holding parts of the body that weren't even touched just to try to exaggerate a contact or get an opponent booked or sent off, that is something that needs to be condemned and that can't be tolerated.
"From that point of view, it is up to all authorities, including the referees and with the aid of technology, to make sure there is education and appropriate sanctions when it is blatant - when someone has tried to gain an advantage they shouldn't have done - so that the message will get through.
"It is very difficult when players are playing with so much at stake and managers jobs are on the line - sometimes their futures depend on the next game - for them not to think to seize an advantage if they can get one.
"But I think we have got to do all we can to try to make sure the game is played in the best possible way.
"That sounds a little bit innocent and naive but unless you do that you are not doing your job."
For matters that are not clear cut, Taylor can understand the difficult pressures players can be placed under.
It is also not a new debate with Taylor, whose playing career in the 1960s and 70s took in spells with Bolton, Birmingham and Blackburn, remembering how Manchester City legend Francis Lee was often accused of diving.
Taylor said: "Sometimes a forward will try to keep his balance and try to keep going when contact has been made but not enough to knock him down.
"But then he will be asked why he didn't go down, because that would have been a penalty.
"I played with Francis Lee at Bolton and he went on to City.
"As a player if contact was made and you felt you had lost control, or you were not in as good a position as you were, then you were not exactly told but, as a professional, would be expected to try to make the most of the opportunity.
"That is the more cynical side of the game, bearing in mind what is at stake. You are damned if you do, damned if you don't.
"That does not make it easy for the referee, and the commercial cynicism and win-at-all-costs (mentality) has got to be really discouraged."
Taylor is an advocate of using video reviews to take retrospective action against players who transgress, but would go further.
As well as introducing technology for goal-line decisions, Taylor would also use replays during games to catch divers.
He said: "We have got the Olympics coming up and you hope sport will be played according to the spirit, to the letter of the law, but in professional sport - indeed all sport - there will always be people looking to gain an advantage.
"It needs careful monitoring and for all the education we give to our members and young players, and of course the sanctions to stop it happening and acting as a deterrent, it is always going to be with us.
"No doubt if we do get video technology, there will then be a debate about should we use it to see if contact was made - was it a penalty, was it a free-kick.
"In really crucial situations, I see no reason why the referee can't hold up play for a period of time, albeit a short time, to see that justice is done."