Premier League players who dive will face a two-match suspension next season. The FA has approved rules for next season that will allow them to review with video replay after matches and hand down retroactive suspensions for “proven cases of simulation and/or feigning injury.”
The new rules will not allow the FA to review and act upon every instance of diving. Instead, it will be adopted in the same way that the FA now reviews red card offenses for violent conduct or serious foul play: if the referee did not see the simulation then they can act and hand down a retroactive suspension, so yellow cards for diving cannot be later made suspensions.
“In this situation, three ex-elite match officials review all the available video footage independently of one another and then advise the FA as to whether they believe it was an offence worthy of instant dismissal,” an FA statement read.
The FA has made a big deal about diving in recent years, however they’ve done little to curb it. Referees have been encouraged to show yellow cards for simulation, but asking them to spot it at full speed with so much else going on is foolish. Whether you support video replay or not — and there are easy cases to be made for and against — there is no doubt that it is much easier for a replay official after the fact than it is for the referee during the match.
In addition to punishing divers, the FA has another goal here: deterrence. They even said as much in their statement, saying they hope that the two-match ban will keep other players from attempting to dive.
“Although attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled is a cautionable offence for unsporting behaviour, the fact that the act of simulation has succeeded in deceiving a match official and, therefore, led to a penalty and/or dismissal, justifies a more severe penalty which would act as a deterrent.”
The difficult part of the replay officials will be determining what is and isn’t a dive. Is it a player going down with no contact? Exaggerating contact? What if a player goes down because he’s trying to avoid contact? It’s very messy, but the FA wants simulation out of the game, and they’re taking real measures to combat it now.