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Liverpool plan to start diving because refs don’t play fair

By Tony Attwood

I have seen some odd and bizarre comments from clubs following our endless revelations about referees but the one from the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers seems the most odd – and the most unexpected.

According to press reports Rodgers has said that Liverpool players could start diving and attempting to fool refs because they are not getting the decisions that they deserve from refs.

Now as you may well know, the Ref Review 2012 (link below) published on this site goes into enormous detail about how well or badly refs did last season, and indeed we have a whole article on referees and Liverpool.  Our analysis of over 40% of all Premier League games last season shows quite clearly that there is bias among referees.  We can’t establish where it comes from (incompetence, lack of referees, corruption… take your choice) but we can show it exists.

We have also shown beyond any debating point that the figures put out by PGMOL, the referees association, are completely wrong, and horribly over-estimate the accuracy of the referees in giving decisions.

So a bias for or against Liverpool is to be expected.  It might be a long series of chance events, it might be because Liverpool has stopped offering referees the use of the owners’ villa in the sun, or it might be because another club or clubs has offered refs an inducement to do down Liverpool.

I have no idea how far Brendan Rodgers has gone along the lines of thinking this through,  but reports say that he believes Suárez has been refused legitimate penalties in the past two games and that big decisions have gone against his team.

Maybe he should look at Arsenal’s record in penalties last season.

Apparently he phoned Mike Riley, head of PGMOL and told him that his players will be tempted to exaggerate contact to sway referees in future.

Here’s his statement:

“I’m concerned that we’ve not had any sort of rub of the green from officials. We like to think we are a sporting team, I have always told my players to do the right thing, not to dive, to play fair. But the fairness we show, it seems the decisions pass us by because of it. There are so many decisions that have gone against us.

I spoke to Mike Riley and he admitted he expected me to call earlier. I didn’t ring after the Manchester United game, I wanted to speak to the assessor first on that one, and he hasn’t contacted us yet. But after the West Brom game, I had to call. Jordan Henderson got a horrendous tackle and the player wasn’t even booked, while Andre Wisdom won the ball with a fair challenge and was booked. Things aren’t going for us at all.

It would be a shame if players who respect the rules and managers who are asking players to stay on their feet and not dive are not getting the decisions because of it. I think it is important that referees understand that. It has been a criticism of the last few years of players going down too easy. It is not something we want to encourage but if you’re not going to get decisions because of it players may do that.”

Of course some players get a reputation for diving.  Robert Pires did after just one event that was blown out of all proportion by the press, and Suárez certainly has such a reputation.

Quite what PGMOL will say about it all remains to be seen – but it is certainly a curious approach.
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Ref Review 2012 – the index

24 comments to Liverpool plan to start diving because refs don’t play fair

  • GB

    At no point did he say LFC will adopt diving as a strategy. He said players ‘may do that’ and he is correct. If a player believes the only way to get a level playing field is to ‘demonstrate’ they have been fouled, then they will. That has happened previously and will continue as long as refereeing decsions are poor. Scurrilous piece of writing this with an obvious slant.

  • El Gringo

    I think the headlines about Rodgers’ remarks (including Untold’s) aren’t being quite fair to the remarks themselves. Nowhere in the published comments (presumably there aren’t any jucier unpublished comments) does he actually state a plan. He simply claims that there’s not much point in a player staying up if doing so doesn’t get a call. The subtext is clearly their recent match vs another red diving team, where two players went into the same tackle in a reckless, dangerous manner, but the player who went down and rolled around stayed on the pitch and the player who stayed up was sent off. We all know that refs give Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia a penalty every time they topple in the area–yet their reputation never seems to count against them. In that sense, Rodgers is quite right to suggest that players who stay up aren’t being rewarded with calls. I even remember comments on Untold suggesting that Sagna and Gervinho might have been given penalties last season if they had fallen over when fouled (although given our record with penalties, those comments were probably optimistic!).

    Rodgers is also being a bit hypocritical about Suarez. Maybe he tells him not to dive, but he sure hasn’t pulled him out of a match when he has. He can be a wee whiny flopper. That said, Suarez’s reputation is starting to count against him in ways that Young’s reputation isn’t. So perhaps Rodgers’ is misguided: the common ground is not staying up or falling over, but rather influence with PGMOL. There is currently no causal relationship between fouls committed and penalties awarded.

  • Steve

    They did get screwed over badly last weekend.

  • El Gringo

    Argh…pronouns. The He in the second paragraph, of course, refers to Suarez. I have no idea if Rodgers whines and flops in training scrimmages.

  • Miles

    Start diving? Suarez takes the piss already!
    That’s probably the reason they get so few decisions going their way.
    From the Arsenal I watched, Suarez went down so needlessly too often, crying wolf. When a genuine foul comes around the ref had had enough!

  • I am genuinely surprised that you chose the headline you did for this article. I applaud the work that is done here on referee analysis. We know there is bias and we should applaud managers who take a stand.

    Your headline does not represent what Rodgers said at all, and it reminds me of something The Sun would do – skewing comments to create a headline.

    I hope you take this criticism in the spirit it is meant – this is the first time I have been critical of an article on this site.

  • Doc

    I definately think they got screwed over, at what point are refs going to to be held accountable for their performances. Managers and players alike pay the ulimate price so why shouldnt they.

  • Adam

    The “press reports” you have taken this headline from is a Guardian article in which they are framing Rodgers as a manager telling his players to cheat, when in fact he does the opposite. He is always telling his players to stay on their feet, and he’s expressing his disappointment with referees who only give fouls when a player falls over – and rightly so. With how refereeing is done in the EPL at the moment, there is a huge incentive for players to dive and cheat, as that is the way to win freekicks that otherwise wouldn’t have been won. Diving is becoming more common because of the naivety of referees and dishonesty of players.

    Rodgers is pointing this out so that the referees look out for when a player is fouled but stays on his feet – a free-kick should be given if no advantage is apparent but this is rarely the case. He talks of this after a situation in the League Cup match between WBA and LFC – Yesil was running through on goal and got pulled back but stayed on his feet as he wanted to score. When it was clear he was impeded and no advantage came of it, no action was taken.

    We should be applauding managers who try to play the game fair and call out referees who don’t ref in a manner conducive to fair play. We certainly shouldn’t be chastising him or framing him as a cheat. Don’t believe everything the media prints!

  • James76@gmail.com

    The standards this season (aswell as last) have been the worst ever, shocking when you consider refs went ‘profesional’ in 2001, i say sack them all and bring back amateur referees, they were far better, the current ‘pros’ are not fit for purpose and are blatantly biased towards man hoof, suspiciously so, maybe all other Prem clubs should get their chief executive on the FA’s Board too just like man hoof?.

  • Jayram – yes. We all have off days.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Suarez has a reputation as a diver which gives people carte blanche to foul him in and around the box – it doesn’t matter if he falls over or has his leg broken, the ref will wave away penalty appeals. The last thing that Rodgers wants to suggest is that his entire team will be up to the same thing, they’ll get less penalties than Arsenal (if that were possible). What he is suggesting though is tantamount to the same thing.

  • There has been a lot of comment that my headline did not reflect what was said. That may well be true, but it is interesting that a lot of writers on this made the same mistake

    Several have been mentioned. The most recent to hit my email is

    Rodgers Claims Reds Are Missing Out by Not Cheating – Bleacher

  • Tee Song

    Misleading headline aside, I find it interesting that the overall tone of the articles isn’t one of widespread outrage and condemnation for suggesting that players might be justified in diving. If Arsene had made similar statements, I’m pretty sure that he would receive criticism for it. But since it’s a British manager heading one of the most storied of English clubs, he’s given a fairly easy time of it. No snide comments about his nationality or present or previous players sins.

    Players do go down easily because it forces the ref to make a decision, a decision which has a huge reward if a penalty is given. What’s more likely to result in a goal–going down and “winning” a penalty or continuing to play and striking an off-balance shot? Aguero chose to stay up when he could’ve gone down and we were a little lucky that Dean didn’t bring that play back when he probably should have.

  • rusty

    If Rodgers has been telling his players not to dive, Suarez’s ability to stay upright in the box doesn’t speak highly of his manager’s ability to persuade.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    If you watch Theo, he nearly always tries to ride tackles in a conspicuous manner. I can only assume this is a conscious thing so that when he’s “brought down” in the box the ref’s first thought is PENALTY and not DIVE.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Liverpool did look hard done by – although having seen some of those incidents in real time, I feel slightly more sympathy with the ref. In reality, that is a game Liverpool should have won, although the lack of clinical finishers is clearly not helping their cause at the moment… whatever the refs are or are not doing. The problem is, Utd always seem to get the rub of the green where there is one to be had. Just days beofre that, a clear ref assisted win for Utd against Galatasaray.
    Seem to remember Kenny meeting Manc Riley last season after a few decisions he thought went against them, and while standing to be corrected, I also seem to remember from the ref reviews… decisions starting to go more in Liverpools favour after that for a while. Arsene – maybe these Liverpool managers have a point should the decisions start going against us!

  • Ong Bing

    I am waiting that ref bad decisions going to MU side and screwed a few of MU games. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Matt Clarke

    @Ong Bing:
    Your thinking of Return of the Jedi mate :p

  • Reviewer02

    I have seen the future, and this plays no part in it!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Asif

    And there was light and the prophet Red Nose stood on his pulpice to state – that it all evens out in the end!!!

    Ofcourse it does…RvP is being trained on it currently…poor fellow never got that sort of a training with us!!!

  • Tony i might love to say this with pleasure that you are a foreseer,you make people cry and you make them laugh. There are things you have been talking about and they come to pass. If you where in Africa you will be making million of shillings as many African believe in someone who tells things that come to pass, just keep it up.

  • Ong Bing

    I am stop watched Serie A 10 years ago, because too often I saw players rolling on the ground and free kicks, so I became confuse, am I watched football or another new kind of sport?

    So, if diving and another cheating in EPL not stop, one by one fans will go.

    Playing football and make goals, please…. (like Arsenal!)

  • diving aside, here’s Wenger today: “There are no defensive midfield players at the moment,”

    and here’s what i said on may 8th: “while you were sleeping, arsene has been developing a new defensive/attacking midfielder position. arteta can defend as well as he attacks and so can rosicky. that allows for constant rotation of positions depending on who is in a better location at the time the ball is played. and that makes the team harder to defend against as the final through ball could be coming from anywhere.”

    my next prediction: the premier league will change the refereeing policy by the end of this season thanks to untold’s tireless work. unless, of course, they are dumber than sticks.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Well observed Mike. I hope the refs are forced to change, but I think that if we win today, we will be seen as a genuine threat and decisions may start going against us again….and the hatchet men will be given a free licence on Santi C in the way they have been given with the likes of Diaby
    But, hope springs eternal