‘Diving, rolling, encircling of officials’ - A bluffer’s guide to Euro 2016

John O’Sullivan takes you through what to expect from during the tournament

Euro 2016 gets underway on Friday night with Paris taking on Romania. Photograph: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Is Euro 2016 the same as the All Ireland Football and Hurling Championship, a lot of matches that no one cares about, outside of parochial allegiances, until it reaches the business end of affairs?

You’re obviously referring to the fact that after the dust has settled in the group games only eight of the 24 competing countries will be on their way home. Four of the teams that finish third if a group will reach the knockout stages. It’s definitely a slow burn for the top teams.

So why did they increase the number of participating teams from 16, the chosen number since England staged the tournament in 1996, to 24?

More matches (51) so more revenue, advertising, television, sponsorship and ticket sales. The Corinthian ingredients of sport.


Is tweaking the format the only change?

No, in March of this year the International Football Association Board (IFAB) ratified 90 revisions to the laws of the game. They came into effect on June 1st, and will be applied in the tournament.

Jeez, you’re not going to list them all?

Hardly but there are some interesting ones. A player can now be sent off prior to the start of a match but rather bizarrely if that happens he can be replaced by one of his teammates in the match-day squad.

Are there any other doozies?

Yeah they are looking to end the ‘triple whammy’ of red card, penalty and subsequently a suspension for a professional foul in the box. They want to replace the red card with a yellow card and thereby make the punishment less heavy-handed.

Fair enough, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing at all until you read the small print where it says that a referee may still award a red card for offences like pushing, pulling, holding and violent conduct. So not sure what’s left for the mellow yellow sanction.

Look it is football so players are going to be diving left, right and centre and simulating injury for good measure. Why don’t the referees police this more rigorously?

Well the officials might care to read ‘Tackling Diving: The Perception of Deceptive Intentions in Association football,’ published in the Journal for Nonverbal behaviour in 2010.

You’re making this up?

No. That study found that there are recognisable traits for a player who is diving that include “a separation in time between the impact and the simulation,” while also demonstrating “a lack of ballistic continuity (the player moves farther than would be expected from the momentum of the tackle).”

Are there any other observations?

What about the “Archer’s bow pose, where the head is tilted back, chest thrust forward, arms raised and both legs bent at the knee to lift both feet off the ground to the rear, is recognised as a characteristic sign of simulation, as the action is counter to normal reflex mechanisms to protect the body in a fall.”

Is there any chance that the referees at Euro 2016 will crack down on one of the scourges of the sport?

Unlikely, unless it's the Spanish whistler Carlos Velasco Carballo; he has produced more cards than Hallmark. At one point during the season just gone he averaged a red card every two games and a little over six yellow cards per match.

So what can be expected of Euro 2016?

Diving, rolling, Christ the Redeemer poses from the aggrieved, hand wringing, begging, screaming, encircling of officials and………… some football.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer