The flopping and faking of injuries in soccer is a disgrace to the sport. It makes me cringe any time a player goes down clutching his angle, shin, knee, face (you know who you are Keita), etc and rolling around on the ground like someone in a stop, drop and roll instructional video. I played soccer for many years up into high school for school and club teams. We played hard, sometimes aggressively, and yes, people ran into each other, fouls were committed, and general contact occurred. But I never saw a teammate or opponent go down in apparent pain who was not actually hurt and did not need to be substituted for. (Cramps and getting the wind knocked out are other matters, but I’ve never seen anyone use those as a ploy for slowing down the game or drawing a free kick). This is why it pains me to see these professional athletes, some of whom have been made wealthy and famous by their sport, disgrace that same sport with such contemptible behavior. Put more simply, it is cheating.
Unfortunately, it will never end as long as there is no real consequence for the actions. I was pleased a few World Cups back when they started to dole out yellow cards for blatantly fake falls and play acting. However, many plays are still missed and much over-acting of actual fouls occurs in an attempt to induce a yellow or even red card instead of a simple free kick. Much like the need for some instant replay to improve the quality of the officiating, post-game reviews of penalties, both real and imagined is necessary. This review must come with consequences that includes suspension from international play, league play, and fines (as a function of player pay as players make highly variable pay). This is the only way it will have teeth and, if not stop, at least strongly curtail the flopping, because if I wanted to watch that, I’d be watching the fishing championship on the Outdoors channel. Regrettably, much like drug-testing in baseball, financial reform on Wall Street, and energy policy legislation, if it ever happens, it will be weak and ineffectual.
Perhaps the biggest hindrance to improved officiating in soccer is FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has taken the stance of a luddite when it comes to using technology to improve the games. He has been critical of the use of replay or other means to assess when goals are scored because “the game must be played the same way no matter where you are in the world.” Excuse me? "Men, women, children, amateurs and professionals all play the same game all over the world.” No they don’t. If you think those kids playing on that dirt pitch over there is the same thing as professionals on a sod field with professional horticulturists looking after the grass, then you’re a moron at best, and a disingenuous liar at worst. Sometimes you play with just one linesman, sometimes none, sometimes two, who knows. But let’s not avoid the use of technology to improve the fairness of the sport at its highest level while hiding behind some “think of the children” mantra. Tennis has successfully brought technology into their officiating at high levels and it has not ruined the amateur and developmental levels of the sport. Soccer could do likewise, if only a bloated relic of the past wasn’t dragging it down.