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July 2021



by Don McMahon

While reading about how ¨diving¨ or  simulation has become the bane of Football worldwide, it struck me that the average supporter is not really aware of how many varied and ¨clever¨ ways there are to gain an unfair advantage when professionals (and many amateurs) play the game.

As a retired referee who saw, first hand, the duplicitousness and manipulative  panoply of cheating tools too many professionals (players and managers) had in their kitbags, I thought it would be entertaining to review the 17 LAWS and see how and where players/teams might try and gain an unfair advantage and why it is considered unfair.  The links in each case go to the Fifa site on the laws of the game, and you can’t get much more official than that.

Law 1:  Very difficult to gain any advantage, but some Clubs prefer to have the smallest field permitted (80 x 100 metres more or less) thus allowing them to defend more easily.  Anyone who can see some advantage to be gained in this Law please do contribute.

Law 2: Again, since professional Leagues closely control the type, quality and availability of  it is hard to gain an unfair advantage but one thing I have often seen is, towards the end of a match, where the winning team has a narrow lead (1-0,2-1) the ball suddenly becomes very heavy and requires more time to place properly or even find once it is out of play. Keepers seem to develop a deep fear of kicking the ball from a goalkick or free kick and throw-ins suddenly become rather complicated affairs, requiring towel wiping, hand wringing, uncertainty and so on. This is unfair because Arsenal regularly do it according to Sky Sports.

Law 3: Another one where cheating would be very difficult.

Law 4:  Players can rarely if ever gain an unfair advantage with their kits, except in the case of Bendtner, whose flashing of his Paddy Power Panties caused FIFA such consternation that Septic Bladder had to  declare a national emergency. There may be a subtle attempt to enthral the more feeble-minded Tottenham player when their opponents roll the top of their socks up to their thighs, giving the poor Totts the feeling that they are watching their mothers undress again! Septic Bladder maintains that women should wear tighter jersies and shorts in order to ¨beautify ¨the game….is this cheating if the men and women,who play together at the amateur level, are distracted by this beautification?

Law 5 & 6: Here is where the best targets for duplicity and simulation reside….the referees and their assistants. Simulation has become a fine art which is often ignored or punished, based on the tolerance level of the men/women in black (as it used to be) and their interpretation and understanding of the 17 Laws and FIFA recommendations.

However, the principal advantage players have over these officials is the fact that the field is so big, with only one person watching them and quite often not receiving sufficient support from their other officials and the fact that only the referee makes the final decision…thus allowing players to flagrantly infringe the rules about 50% of the time without consequences because nobody saw anything or they chose to ignore it.

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Law 7: Managers and players use pressure and rely on the referees’ timekeeping weaknesses to shorten or lengthen a game, since both halves have to be equal and added or so-called injury time can permit a team to score in this extended time. SAF’s favourite moan, aside from when his preferred single malt runs out, is, ¨WTF refereeeee ye canna add tha extra time…we’re winning!!!¨

Law 8: Here is one of the most common infringements one can spot. At the kick-off and almost always on the restart, one of the players whose team has the ball will be partially or fully in the opponent’s half. Last weekend I watched 5 games and in 3 of them this happened at every restart or kick-off. There is little advantage to be had other than showing how easy it is to test the referee’s resolve.

Law 9: Very skilled professionals can block the view of the assistant referee thus preventing them from clearly seeing who put the ball out for a throw-in. They also will, without waiting for the referee to signal, pick up the ball and illegally throw it in, like they can legally do (unless informed otherwise by the referee) for a quick free kick. I am sure there are other tricks that they use for the corners and goalkicks as well.

Law10: Again, expert (non-keeper) cheaters can palm or block the ball out of the net without the referee or linesman catching them.  Then there is the ¨fake¨ goal celebration that, in the past, has convinced a few uncertain referees that a goal was actually scored. To me this is among the worst form of poor sporstmanship, simulation and unfair play. It brings the game into disrepute and requires the collaboration of many to fool the few.

Law11: Well we all know that some players have become expert at beating the offside trap but that is legal. However there is little opportunity for a player to cheat, because the linesman usually gets it right. I have seen defenders intentionally shove or push an opponent into an offside position but that is rare and can easily be seen by the referee. Who needs to cheat when the officials can be relied on to get it wrong so often?

Law 12: Here is the proverbial paradise for cheaters….the fouls and misconduct rules. Players regularly and consistently do the following without any consequences:

a) kick the crap out their opponent while Mike Riley joyfully looked on….

b) jump at an opponent, thus breaking their limbs into smaller pieces, while nobody looks on….

c) charging an opponent in the penalty area, leaving treadmarks across their back, which were subsequently autographed by Mike Dean….

d) punching an opponent, then falls like a drunken sailor when that player lightly retaliates, thus drawing the referees attention to the retaliatory foul, all the while play acting a dying swan….

e) handling the ball, scoring a key goal…

I will not treat all the Laws in this article but the reader can surely get the idea…..  But if you want to look them up here are the rest of the laws of the game


The books…

The sites…


1 comment to 101 WAYS to CHEAT in FOOTBALL

  • Gord

    Law 1. As I remember it, it used to specifically exclude the idea that
    a pitch be square (rectangular with an aspect ratio of 1). But yes, having fast players, would influence pitch size. With people that can throw-in the ball a long way, a person could juggle pitch width for that.

    Law 2. I haven’t heard of soccer players doing it, but it supposedly happens in baseball. Vaseline in the hair, and when you take the throw-in, you grease the ball.

    Law 3. In gridiron, it has been known for coaching staff or players on the sidelines to be too close to the field of play, and to influence play.

    Law 4. It has been known for people to adjust their studs. Add things to clothing to be abrasive? Teflon shirt, so nobody can grab it? Most of the things in this category tend to be defensive in my opinion.

    Law 5-6. Buying officials? Bullying officials?

    Law 7. Have a low power maser track the referee’s watch all game? Maybe you could adjust the clock frequency a little. Too much power, and you burn the ref, which would probably expose what was being done.

    Law 8. Yes, players encroach on the ball. I have never heard of a referee issuing persistent infringement for things like being offside a zillion times. I have seen persistent encroachment penalized, but rarely.

    Enough for now.