Now that headline may not entirely be true, as a Manchester United fan I know it’ll be seen as bias, but upon watching the video below (sorry for the quality) you do feel like all those years playing in one of the best sides in the world has served Gary well on his transition to Tv pundit. The question though would be is Neville right in his summing up of what has become quite the epidemic if not in the past then most definitely this season, is diving wrong?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNx5ok60U6A

Within 10 minutes Gary Neville, former Manchester United and England international has stunned an entire sport, pointing out that if players are given the chance to go to ground after receiving minimal contact then they are well within their right to do so. Probably unsurprisingly to most of you I agree, we discussed it recently on our podcast and at the time I had not long read an article by a Brazilian journalist whose name escapes me currently which made the same point as Neville but from the Brazilian leagues perspective. Obviously upon reading that the idea was within my subconscious and I stated that I wasn’t against diving, after watching Gary Neville’s comments my mind hasn’t changed.

Don’t get me wrong though, if a player goes down without any contact, that is simulation and against the rules, players found to be partaking in this act should be punished severely. There is an obvious way which the governing bodies could deal with this; ban the players retrospectively, no matter if that player is World class or a 34-year old clogger, nobody should be exempt. If that incentive is in place then players may think twice about just throwing themselves to the ground in overelaborate and frankly embarrassing ways.
The players you see turn out for your favourite clubs every week no matter which country or division they are playing in, are employed by a football club to do a job, the same as companies across the world hire people to do jobs. A footballers job is to achieve success, win trophies and line the pockets of their respective clubs with as much money as possible. Nowhere in their contract does it state that they must uphold the laws of the game and be held as some kind of picturesque embodiment of all values of fair play and sportsmanship. In a player’s mind they have to make a split second decision about whether after contact going down is the best decision for their team, in some instances, like Ashley Young on Sunday they are correct and well within their right to do so.

Football fans are a fickle bunch and I also include myself in that. Everyone remembers when Emanuel Adebayor scored for Manchester City and ran the full length of the park to celebrate and gloat in front of the fans who had shunned him previous, this lacks sportsmanship yet I know loads of people who absolutely loved it and cheered him on. On another occasion, way back in 2000, Paulo Di Canio split public perception when he caught the ball in front of an open goal because he felt it would be unfair of him to score when Everton keeper Paul Gerrard was on the ground injured, as a neutral football fan and with Di Canio’s reputation you can’t help but feel adoration for this act. But what if you were a West Ham fan, this player, who is being paid a fortune has just refused to do his job, he should have taken advantage of the empty net and scored a goal. Ashley Young and others before and after him are just taking advantage of a player leaving themselves out of position and open to fouling their opponent.

As a player your job is not to be concerned about your opponent, your job is to win at all costs.
It may read like it, but this article was never meant to condone diving, it’s intent was to open everyone’s eyes to what is going through these players heads when they step out onto the football pitch. We as a fan base have heaped massive amounts of unneccessary pressure upon individuals ranging in ages from as young as 16 to as old as 42, and they have to make decision to protect their livelihoods for both themselves and their families. Before passing judgement you have to ask yourself if put in their position could you honestly say you would uphold the moral standpoint and risk losing your chance?

By Mark McInnes, Follow me on twitter @itspartymarky

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