Quote of the Day: Sir Alex’s Manchester Mind Games

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“I think they’ve got seven centre-forwards now, which is crazy, just amazing, but when you have spent that amount of money, and the wages they are paying, you have to win the league with that kind of investment and that’s where the difficulty will come for them.” Sir Alex, kicking up the Manchester derby a notch.

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Divers in the box should be sent off

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Nobody likes diving (except the Italians). Eduardo’s flop against Celtic has garnered an enormous amount of attention, both for the offense and for UEFA’s since rescinded two-match ban. Most of the commentary on this episode however, like Philip Conrwall’s on Football365, seems resigned to the supposition that, “diving is a problem, but is – as this case shows – incredibly hard to police.”

This acceptance of being powerless to stop divers is disappointing because it overlooks the influence of the rules of the game. Right now, a diver that is caught receives only a yellow card, but can gain at least a penalty and also a possible man advantage, an easy risk-reward assessment. This creates incentives for attacking players to dive in the box. There is a solution. Just as was the case with the establishment of a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, divers trying to win a penalty should face equal punishment.

Being sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity—originally called a professional foul—is a relatively modern addition to the game, first introduced by the English Football League in 1982 and then adopted by FIFA prior to the 1990 World Cup. It arose primarily because of an incident in the 1980 FA Cup Final when West Ham’s Paul Allen was deliberately fouled by Arsenal’s Willie Young to prevent his clear run on goal. A committee of English football luminaries recommended players who commit such “professional fouls” be sent off. Through the years, the language has been altered to eliminate the interpretation that the foul was deliberate, and the rule now reads simply “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.” Continue reading