This is football.
This is fiction.
Or is it?
Eh aye it is, probably.
Ask a hundred football fans what their pet hate is and it’s a fair bet that a good proportion of them would pick out diving, or simulation to give it its (Super) Sunday name. Now I have absolutely no intention of conducting said poll, as I hate football fans and don’t fancy speaking to one of them never mind a hundred! Irrespective of this, the original statement remains valid.
Whilst I won’t be asking the opinions of any fans I will see what my ‘fictional footballer’ has to say about it. The fact he exists solely in my head makes him the perfect interviewee (except when he’s nasty to me).
What follows is a transcript of our conversation; I hope it will shed some light on how those inside the game (and my head) feel about the dark art of diving.
Balls Boobs and Blow (BB&B): Hello, and thanks for taking the time to speak to Balls Boobs and Blow today.
Fictional Footballer (FF): What? Balls Boobs and Blow? I thought you said this was for the Guardian? You devious little prick.
BB&B: Erm yeah sorry about that, but you’re here now.
FF: I suppose so.
BB&B: Right first of all, have you ever ‘dived’?
BB&B: What you’ve never exaggerated contact? Never looked for a trailing leg?
FF: Every single time I’ve stepped out onto the pitch, but exaggerating contact and diving are two completely separate things you dick.
BB&B: I wish you wouldn’t call me a dick, but back to your point, whatever you name you give it you are still cheating, you are still acting in a way that’s alien to the ethos of the game.
FF: No I’m not, but even if I was it’s your fault.
BB&B: My fault? What the fuck have I done?
FF: Okay not you in particular, although you do seem a particularly odious example. I’m talking about football fans in general. Success has to be instant with you people, any degree of failure is not tolerated. That’s why forces footballers have to look for any means necessary to keep the fucking ‘boo boys’ of their back for another week or so.
BB&B: Okay you may have a point about the pressures put on footballers these days, but I assure you all fans, all true fans would prefer it if you stayed on your feet.
FF: Ha, what a crock of shit. You’re lying to me, you’re lying to your miniscule readership and you’re lying to yourself. For all the faux moralising fans do on this issue, every single one of you, deep down, is begging your striker to go down to win a penalty, and every single one of you celebrates the resulting goal just as vehemently as if it were scored by the fucking Virgin Mary herself.
B&B: I’m not sure you’re allowed to say “fucking Virgin Mary”
FF: Well according to your moral compass I’m headed for Hell anyway so I really couldn’t care.
BB&B: Blasphemy aside does it not trouble you that no matter how you justify it you are acting dishonestly?
FF: Not in the slightest, anyway, do you criticise players for claiming a throw in that’s obviously not theirs? For claiming a corner when it’s clearly a goal kick?
BB&B: Ehm no, but that’s different surely?
FF: No it’s the same, and you bloody well know it. It’s an attempt to mislead the officials for the advantage of you and your team, you fuckers just claim to find one morally reprehensible and accept the other as part of the game.
BB&B: Okay you are obviously happy to deceive the game as a whole, the fans who pay your wages and the dedicated officials whose job is hard enough anyway, surely though you cannot be comfortable cheating your fellow players?
FF: I’m choosing to ignore your wanky little dig at me. But to answer your question I am perfectly okay “cheating”, as you put it, my fellow players, for the simple reason that they without exception, would do the exact same to me without a moment’s hesitation.
BB&B: You aren’t painting a particularly pretty picture of the ‘beautiful game’, are there any honest players out there?
FF: Honest as you would define it? Not fucking one.
BB&B: I’m really not enjoying this conversation anymore, but I’m a professional so I’ll persevere. Surely you accept that foreign players are to blame for the increase in diving in this country?
FF: Nope, foreign players are blamed for the simple reason that a fair few influential journalists and broadcasters in this country are massive racists. British players have always been, by your definition, cheating fucks and they always will be.
BB&B: You’re making me depressed and I really want to wrap this up, so I’ll ask one last question. Would retrospective punishment eradicate diving?
BB&B: Could you be slightly more expansive you fucking walloper?
FF: Don’t call me a walloper you whiney little shit, but the reason it won’t work is pretty simple. It is utterly unenforceable. It is impossible to determine without doubt whether someone has dived or not. Every conviction would be open to appeal, how do you know how much contact it takes to knock someone of balance when they are running at full tilt? How can you punish someone who takes evasive action to prevent a massive centre half chopping their leg in two? Simulation has always and will always be part of football, deal with it.
BB&B: I hate talking to you, you make me sad.
So is the ‘fictional footballer’ right? Or is he just a massive cheating prick, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch on twitter and we’ll pass on your thoughts.