Early Doors

Use cameras to finger divers

Early Doors

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Rugby has really shown football the way in terms of bad behaviour over the last six months or so.

The Bath drugs scandal, Schalk Burger gouging furore and now the 'bloodgate' fake injury affair has made football seem a bit tame by comparison.

To recap, Harlequins engineered a 'blood injury' substitution in their Heineken Cup game against Leinster by getting Tom Williams to bite a packet of fake claret, making it look like he had a cut mouth.

Williams's sly wink to the bench, in conjunction with the gore looking like something out of a pathetic 1960s vampire B-movie, meant Harlequins were caught.

The powers that be came down like a tonne of bricks on Richards, banning him for three years, while Williams received a four month ban.

Even after a decision that may well have ended his coaching career, Richards managed to be admirably phlegmatic about the incident, saying merely that: "It didn't pan out particularly well on the day."

It's a bit like Mike Ashley saying his time as Newcastle owner has been "no better than adequate".

ED has prattled on in the past about rugby's moral double standards - it's (more or less) OK to dig your fingers into an opponent's eye sockets as long as you buy him a pint afterwards, but chomping on a ketchup sachet is strictly taboo.

Yet every sport has things it chooses to care about, and football is no better at deciding its priorities - such as the best use for video technology.

In football, as in rugby, it has been decided that feigning injury to gain an advantage is cheating and must not be tolerated.

Football had its own 'bloodgate' equivalent in 1989, when Chile goalkeeper Roberto Rojas used a razor to cut himself and get a match against Brazil called off.

He was caught and banned for life, while his country was thrown out of the 1994 World Cup.

Some pretty heavy-hitting punishments, yet it seems you can cheat with impunity as long as you don't bring a prop on to the pitch with you.

Despite constantly coming under the spotlight, diving is no closer to being eliminated from the game than Joey Barton is to getting a PhD in astrophysics.

There is an obvious solution - watch a TV replay, determine that a player has dived, ban him.

Think Morten Gamst Pedersen's comedic tumble against Arsenal last season. It would take no more than five minutes for a disciplinary panel to decide he cheated and dole out the appropriate punishment.

Yet for some reason football is not interested. It would rather get itself in a lather about goal-line cameras.

Crystal Palace's goal that never was against Bristol City created all sorts of headlines, but such incidents are incredibly rare.

In his latest blog for Eurosport-Yahoo!, Danny Murphy argues convincingly in favour of goal-line technology, but then admits that he, in all his 500-plus games as a professional, has never encountered that kind of situation.

How many times do these goal-line controversies occur? Two or three times a season, maximum.

How often does a player win a free-kick or a penalty with a dive, or go down nursing an imaginary injury to run down the clock? In most games.

Goal-line technology is fine, but its introduction would affect only a tiny percentage of results. If the FA used its crack video replay team to look at diving, the entire game would be changed for the better.


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