As we wait and see if the EPL will take action against Adebayor, as FIFA has taken action against Eduardo, it is time to contemplate…
Why UEFA’s Verdict on Eduardo is Wrong – A reasoned critique of an unreasonable decision
A ‘dive’ is a self induced fall that does not result from illegal contact with another player. It is intended to simulate a foul and obtain unfair advantage by the award of a free kick, penalty, or even a red card against an opposition player.
It is a form of cheating, and therefore to be abhorred. To deter the practice, players correctly judged to have dived should face a proportionate punishment. Preferably, this punishment should be awarded by the referee during the game, to prevent the outcome of the match being influenced by unfair player behaviour.
Where it is not detected by the referee, it should be dealt with retrospectively by the relevant governing body, on the basis of available video evidence and testimony from match officials.
However, to prove that diving has occurred it is essential to demonstrate the player went down both intentionally and with the aim of deceiving the referee into awarding a foul.
A question frequently raised by those commenting on the Eduardo case is whether or not there was contact between the player and the goalkeeper. But when judging whether or not a player has dived, the presence or absence of contact between players is not itself decisive.
A player may fall accidentally in the absence of any contact with an opposing player, but if this is simply due to an uneven playing surface or sheer clumsiness, rather than an attempt to deceive the referee, then it is not a dive.
A player may fall following contact with an opposing player, but if the contact is slight and the fall a deliberate response intending to deceive the referee, then this is diving. A player may even fall deliberately, with or without contact with an opposing player, but if this is done to avoid injury, say from a sliding tackle, and not done to deceive the referee and obtain the award of a foul, then it is not diving.
So deciding on player intent is crucial when seeking to judge whether a dive has occurred, and since, by the nature of the offence, players will not usually admit to a dive, we must examine the incident looking for clear, objective evidence that the fall was deliberate and intended to deceive.
Such evidence might include whether there was any contact or none, if there was contact was this hard or slight, did the nature of the resultant fall seem proportional to the amount of contact or exaggerated for effect, and did the player protest afterwards and appeal for a foul to be awarded.
If for example there was little or no contact, an exaggerated fall to the ground, simulation of a severe injury, and repeated claims of a foul, then we have good objective evidence of intent to deceive.
Applying these principles to UEFA’s recent decision to punish Eduardo for diving, what might be concluded? Eduardo himself vigorously denies the offence, so we must rely primarily on the available video footage of the incident.
I would argue that it cannot reasonably be claimed that this provides clear, objective evidence of a deliberate fall, executed with an intent to deceive the referee. Eduardo did fall, and there was little or no contact between Eduardo and the goalkeeper prior to the fall. However, Eduardo did not attempt to exaggerate the fall, did not feign injury, and he did not claim a foul.
The only reasonable conclusion must be that the offence is not proven by the evidence and Eduardo is innocent of the charge. Of course, this will not stop others reaching unfair and unreasonable judgements about the episode. We don’t expect fairness from our adversaries, be they on the field or in the press.
But Eduardo has the right to a proper standard of justice from the governing body for European football, and their decision to ban him for two games is both entirely unreasonable and extremely shabby.
If UEFA’s arbitrary approach to retrospective punishment continues, we may find that the only safe option for a player who is awarded a penalty following a borderline foul is to immediately protest against the decision to the referee! Of course this risks a booking for dissent, and over a decision that favours the dissenting player!
PS Looking at the latest team photo, am I mistaken or is Arshavin is taller sitting down than he is standing up?
Footnote: this is what Arsenal have said about the UEFA verdict on Eduardo…
The Club is in receipt of Uefa’s reasoned decision in relation to the charge against Eduardo.
We strongly believe that the decision taken is deeply flawed and not based on any forensic review of the video evidence available.
There are obvious errors and inconsistencies in Uefa’s judgment and we intend to appeal.
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