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Compiled by PHILIP REID
Danger of Gaelic games simulating soccer
Diving. Simulation. Cheating even? Call it what you will, it amounts to the same thing.
As the world and its mother knows, diving is especially prevalent in soccer – with Fifa acknowledging its menace by attempting to crack down on the deception – but, as Dublin GAA chief executive John Costello has pointed out in his annual report released to clubs in midweek, “feigning injury” is an issue that has also crept into Gaelic football.
Who ever would have thought we’d see that day? Costello doesn’t mention names but, in referring to the “blight of feigning injury,” the Dublin chief claims, “the year almost gone was as bad as any in recent years.”
He continues: “Some teams, and one in particular, have become very adept at it. They are guilty of feigning injury in a bid to dupe the referee and other match officials into both (a) winning a free and presumably (b) getting an opponent booked or sent off directly. In teams who adopt this premeditated strategy, any sort of contact with one of their players results in that player collapsing to the deck holding the face as if dangerously struck. Such acts are cowardly and unsporting and measures should be taken to eradicate them from our games.”
The problem on Gaelic football fields is nowhere near as bad as on soccer pitches, though. The common thread, in whatever sport, is that the rewards for diving/simulation/deception are greater than the punishment for being branded a diver. Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, for one, might be a great player with strength and skill in his armoury but the fact he has been received four yellow cards for apparently seeking to pull the wool over referees’ eyes would indicate that his acting ability doesn’t quite match his footballing prowess.
In this day and age where television cameras are two a penny at big matches, the likelihood is that players will get caught out, just as happened to Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla for his dive with Steven Reid in the English Premier League last week. The post-match reactions and subsequent analysis may have shown him up but the player could shrug his shoulders and take the brickbats in the knowledge that he had got away with the deception when it mattered. He won a penalty, it was scored and his team won.
An interesting study undertaken in Australia last year and published in the science journal PLOS One, sought to investigate human deception using animal signalling theory. It argued, “A ‘dive’ (deceptive signal) is synonymous with animal mimicry, and occurs when a player (signaller) intentionally mimics the behaviour of an illegal tackle-induced fall (reliable cue) and the referee (receiver) responds as if it were a tackle-induced fall by rewarding the player with a free kick (signaller benefit).”
In the study, which focused on matches in six high-profile leagues in Europe, it found that deceit – in the form of diving – decreased as the potential rewards declined. It found that the potential benefit a player can gain from a dive is greatest when the score is level (seeking a goal-scoring opportunity to win the match), is less when losing (a goal-scoring opportunity to draw the game) and at its lowest when winning (a goal-scoring opportunity to maintain lead).