Friday Kickoff: Blatter slams divers; Mourinho rules out Higuain signing; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA5 (Marca)

By DAN KARELL

Sepp Blatter wants diving out of soccer, and he’s willing to create new rules to combat it.

The FIFA President addressed the occurrence of diving and simulation in his column in the latest “FIFA Weekly,” calling it “deeply irritating” and saying he is willing to allow referees more freedom to keep divers off the field once the medical team moves them out of bounds.

“I find (diving) deeply irritating, especially when the (supposedly) half-dead player comes back to life as soon as they have left the pitch,” Blatter wrote. “The touch-line appears to have acquired powers of revival which even leading medical specialists cannot explain.

In the column, Blatter calls for a hockey style penalty box punishment that would keep a diver off the field for an undetermined amount of time, or in Blatter’s words, to “make the player wait until the numerical disadvantage has had an effect on the game.”

Here are some more stories to kick off your Friday:

MOURINHO DENIES CLAIMS OF SIGNING HIGUAIN

Chelsea may have some work to do in the January transfer market, but one player that won’t be coming in is Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain.

With Chelsea’s current crop of forwards struggling, many have looked for the former Real Madrid forward to link up again with his former boss Jose Mourinho. However, on Friday Mourinho denied that Higuain would be coming to Stamford Bridge.

“Nothing is true. He is a player that I know we cannot get,” Mourinho told reporters at a press conference. “He moved from Real Madrid to Napoli six months ago and he’s doing very well, he’s adapting very well to Italy. Napoli is a club which normally doesn’t sell. In the last (few) years, they sold one player a year, when they felt it was not possible to keep them.

“They want to win the Scudetto, they want to win the Europa League. I don’t believe they’re interested in selling Higuain.”

Mourinho also said that he won’t be selling fan favorite Juan Mata in January, saying that the midfielder is focused in training.

 

QUICK KICKS

13,200 fans attended Barcelona’s training today to witness Lionel Messi return from injury after 54 days. (REPORT)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has denied that the club will make a bid for Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov, despite speculation increasing that Arsenal will sign a striker in January. (REPORT)

Real Madrid defeated Paris Saint-Germain, 1-0, in a midseason friendly match in Doha, Qatar. (REPORT)

Former Brazil national team starter Lucio has decided to cancel his contract with Sao Paulo and is likely heading to Palmeiras. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Like Blatter’s idea? Think that referees might adopt it? Do you see Chelsea selling Mata or signing another forward?

Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Blatter slams divers; Mourinho rules out Higuain signing; and more

  1. cowtown says:

    If they dive, give them a yellow, for chrissakes. Just insulate refs from being overruled afterwards and give them instructions to call it aggressively.

    If you don’t want to do that, then I could see forcing every player who receives treatment to remain on the sideline for at least 5 minutes for “precautionary” reasons. Hell, with some leagues that may be a good thing for actual player safety.

  2. wandmdave says:

    I know Blatter is just saying what people want to hear but I agree with the idea. If someone is down for 30+ seconds they should automatically be confined to sidelines for 5 minutes possibly more. The team can avoid this by using a substitution so legit injuries aren’t punished. Won’t eliminate going down easy which I think is a legit tactic against an overly physical team but it will at least mitigate the super annoying time wasting dives where the stretcher is deployed or the melodramatic writhing dives where they pretend the contact was egregious to try to buy cards from the ref.

  3. fischy says:

    I’ve been advocating online for a penalty box for soccer for years. Not just for divers and injury fakers, though that would be a good use. If you stay down wasting time, that time should be added back, but then also your team should be shorthanded for that time. However, I think refs should also be able to put guys in a penalty box for certain fouls — yellow card fouls, generally. Either reckless fouls or deliberate fouls designed to disrupt offensive advantage situations. Getting a yellow card isn’t enough of a disincentive and it does little for the team that had a sweet attack stopped by a the “professional foul.”

  4. AC says:

    agree with Blatter for once

  5. wood chip zip says:

    yes I agree with Blatter too (did I actually type that). Have always felt a player that goes down on the field should have to stay on the touchline at least as long as he was down, but an even longer time is probably better.

  6. Brain Guy says:

    I am all for punishing divers and fakers, but does this idea run the risk of punishing a truly injured player? If I get kicked in the knee and I’m down for two minutes, why should my team be punished by having me stand on the touch line for two minutes? This is especially bad if the player who kicked me doesn’t get a yellow card.

    • Ian says:

      A hockey-style penalty box sounds like a rather brilliant solution to diving, actually. If the player is diving, the box would serve as a penalty/punishment. If the player was truly hurt during a collision, then a couple extra minutes on the sideline would be to his physical benefit anyway. I doubt anything will actually comes to fruition, but I think it’s a good plan.

  7. Ian says:

    I usually can’t stand a word that comes out of Blatter’s mouth, but that quote is hilarious and spot-on accurate. “The touch-line appears to have acquired powers of revival which even leading medical specialists cannot explain.” Point: Sepp.

  8. Nate Dollars says:

    i don’t think ‘faking injury’ is the worst part of this–i think it’s diving in general. a player doesn’t have to be perceived as injured to get an opponent sent off, or to earn a penalty.

    the time-wasting might be most annoying to neutral fans, but what ruins games is not players staying down, but unnecessarily going down in the first place.

    so i think blatter’s comments are on the right track, but shouldn’t get distracted with whether the player was stretchered off or not.

    • biff says:

      I think it could be argued that if a player is injured enough to stop play he would need 3-5 minutes to recover fully to return to play and if a player dives to stop an opposing team from continuing a counter-attack he should be put into the penalty box for 3-5 minutes. A method like that the ref does not really need to make a determination whether it was a dive or not.

      • go euro or go home says:

        Then you could be punishing a team when one of their players legitimately took a knock. It would be completely unfair to make a player sit out 5 minutes after he took a knock. The team absolutely needs him on the field whether he is 100% or not. Better for him to work through it in a couple of minutes on the field than to have to play down a man for 5 minutes.

        • wandmdave says:

          If its a minor enough knock that they can play through it then they need to be able to grit their teeth and jump back up.

          • wandmdave says:

            otherwise the 5 minutes is for them to evaluate the injury and use the magic spray.

          • go euro or go home says:

            it’s not that simple. Think of getting the wind knocked out of you. You are going to be immobile and feeling closer to death than anything else, but once you have gotten your air back, you are good to go. Not AS quick to recover from a shot to the balls, but same idea. The same can be said for most knocks that happen in a game — they hurt like hell initially and take a moment to get over, but enforcing a 5 minute time out for everyone who requires a few seconds to recover is way too excessive.

            • wandmdave says:

              Fair point. And I do like the retro-active suspensions you mention as well. Still, if FIFA actually did go the “penalty box” direction you could give players who are injured the ability to wave play to continue or something to keep them from getting the 5 minute penalty while keeping an incentive to get up as quickly as possible.

  9. biff says:

    Blatter also said the following, which I would love to see instituted in all games: “The ball is in the referees’ court. The instructions are now clear on this matter: if a player is lying on the floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball into touch. The referee should only intervene if he believes a serious injury has occurred.”

    This faking injury to prevent an opposing team for shifting into counter attack mode has gotten crazy and is constantly being abused. We now see almost every weekend cases where a team with the ball whose teammate is on the ground continue to play toward goal, but if they lose the ball then the team that lost the ball demands that opponent now with the ball immediately kick it out of bounds. I know that Michael Parkhurst disagrees with me and was frothing for payback, but I loved it last year in the Champions League game when Adriano refused to kick the ball out when Parkhurt’s less-than-angelic teammate was faking writhing on the ground and Adriano was fed up with him and instead of kicking the ball out of bounds took it and jammed to the back of the net.

    But who came out the bad guy in that beautiful scene? Yep. It wasn’t the diver.

  10. go euro or go home says:

    The answer is retroactive punishment. It can be almost impossible for a referee to determine a dive vs. a legit tumble in real time depending on angles and other variables. However, cameras see everything in the modern game and intent is often obvious on video where it would not be in person.

    Finally, retroactive punishment would not undermine the refs in any way. It would only help them and help the game.

    • beachbum says:

      agree this is the answer. taking advantage of the refs is a big part of the game frankly, and not just the diving part (which I cannot stand), but looking to get away with whatever advantage one can. Could add more eyes to the field to capture more of what is happening when it happens but the retroactive punishments with stiff penalties (game suspensions, fines, etc.) could do the trick without major rules changes

    • Dman says:

      go euro or go home: I agree with you retroactive review is the only solution that will work.

      Every foul that resulted in a free kick or stoppage of play gets reviewed post-game. players who dive to gain advantage are given a 1 game suspension. next time its 3 games…third offense 10 games….problem solved no more diving in soccer.

    • Floyd M. says:

      That wouldn’t work. The camera see everything only in a hand full of games. If you’re going to implement a new rule it has to be feasible for every FIFA sanctioned game, not only the ones that happen to be on TV on the weekend.
      Most MLS games are not even on TV much less having enough cameras to film every play from five different angle.

      • Dman says:

        Its the upper level games that matter anyway!! nobody cares if the French Lick u-8 team is diving…. also this isn’t 1950 cameras are cheaper and more ubiquitous every year.

        You could also make the rule only applicable with “conclusive video evidence”. lower level games without the proper cameras would not be as closely scrutinized. But that is Okay because cutting it out of the top leagues is what matters anyway, and cutting it out of the important leagues will also roll down hill because players aspiring to play at the highest level will know that diving is not allowed on the high levels so diving at all levels will be reduced.

      • go euro or go home says:

        I think just about all MLS games are on tv — not necessarily nationally, but on some level. They are definitely all available online, right? And those productions cover lots of angles and see pretty much everything on the field except for the extremely rare instance.

        Also, as others have pointed out, even if this is not enforceable in every FIFA sanctioned league, it would still do the game a whole bunch of good by showing that these actions are not tolerated at the top levels (top Euro leagues and international tournaments). If the entire soccer-watching world sees players being punished on a weekly basis for being caught in unsporting actions, it will affect the game all over the world.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Agreed as well. The reason diving works is the same reason in game enforcement often does not. It is extremely difficult to get this right in real time, from the angles refs often have to make these calls. Simulation is already punishable w/ a yellow card, but how often is it missed? How often is it glaringly obvious to 100% of those watching on TV? Off the top of my head, it seems pretty reasonable to enforce retroactively w/ diving within the penalty box bringing an automatic red card w/ 2 game suspension, and outside the box a yellow. Accumulation of 2 or 3 simulation yellows could bring a 2 game suspension.

      IMHO diving is essentially cheating… even though it is so widespread that it has evolved into an art-form learned early in a players development that is grudgingly accepted as part of the game. Creating a stigma/culture of its unacceptability at the top level of the game would help in discouraging developing this “skill” early on.

  11. Raymon says:

    Penalty box manufacturers and stopwatch makers must have bribed Blatter. I cant find any other explanation for this apparently clear headed thinking.

  12. Pete says:

    Blatter’s clever line about the healing powers of the touchline only deal with simulated injuries, not simulation to earn a PK. I agree that retroactive punishment in the term of bans would be useful to eliminate that, but I also wonder whether the IFAB would consider putting simulation in the box into the Serious Foul Play category of misconduct, rather than Unsporting Behavior, and instruct referees to send off, rather than just caution, for those kinds of dives.

  13. Spectra says:

    Messi had period injury?? A 54-day one at that. His poor pertner has had one hell of time with that

  14. Wrighteous says:

    The refs need to start calling fouls for illegal challenges where a player does not go down. Right now, if you stay on your feet following an illegal challenge, you are far less likely to get the call. For stuff like Costa Rica’s Campbell pulled against us during qualifying, that sort of outright cheating needs to be punished retroactively and severely. FIFA could have sent a strong message there, but chose not to. As usual, Blatter’s talk is meaningless blather.

  15. Peter says:

    How about a Penalty Box (federal prison) for Blatter … for diving into corruption?