Thaiving: Why Simulation Punishes Everyone

by Absolute Thai Football

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In Thailand’s World Cup qualifier against Australia, the normally phlegmatic Mark Schwarzer felt compelled to Tweet:
“First time tonight I have every played on when a player has gone down ‘injured’ we just have had enough of the constant diving and acting!”
Ironically, this was a genuine injury, acknowledged by the Fulham stopper:
” {The} Thai player WAS injured, which I apologised to him and their coach. It was the only time in the game where they were injured for real!”
This wasn’t the jolt. That the Thai players’ actions seemed perfectly acceptable to us was. Weekly we see diving, time wasting and stretcher processions received with little negative reaction. Whilst there is an ironic count from the crowd for poleaxed players ready to leap to their feet, simulation and time wasting are condoned by a lack of disapproval. Of course it’s a global canker. It is a power play, like a small child pushing their parents, testing the boundaries.
Whilst TPL walk offs have stopped, incredibly, they are not outlawed if they are under 15 minutes. Truesports, not the FA, have stopped it.They, understandably, won’t delay later programmes until football dummies have stopped being thrown out of prams.
So, if it is accepted and acceptable,where is the harm? Referees feel genuine concern for players appearing injured and fans are more relieved that a player is uninjured than angry at being conned. The bear baiting atmosphere and chants of “bury him where he falls!” I used to hear on the Kippax are a legacy of hate we have left behind. Could it even give Thai teams an advantage by breaking up the game, collecting free kicks in strategic places? The problem is, it doesn’t. Prone players assume games will stop and possession be returned. Divers know there is always a next time if the referee doesn’t buy it now. But, whilst this is indulged here, a player running to berate a referee for ignoring his broken legs will get him a card, not a smile in other countries.

So what to do? Officials, not players, must decide when to stop play and games must only pause for head clashes or obvious impact injuries, whilst yellow cards must be dished out for theatrics. Give a stretchered player five minutes on the touchline to recover ( FIFA wouldn’t allow this of course, unless we found vast reserves of oil) and fans must show their own team they support players who fight through the pain, or at least feel some before going off.
The defeat against Australia was telling. A lethargic Australian team were there for the taking and, like the victory against Oman, they should have been passed to death. The Thaiving dissipated the home team’s performance, galvanized the Australians with a feeling of injustice and broke up the Thai’s rhythm. Thailand rose ten FIFA places last year. Let’s play to our strengths to root out the opposition’s weaknesses. Otherwise we will become our own worst enemy.

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