If there is one aspect of the game that has everybody talking, it's the art of simulation to win or gain an advantage. This is also known by many as cheating. From Luis Suarez and Ashley Young to Rivaldo and Jurgen Klinsmann, diving to the turf as though they had been shot by a hidden sniper is not just a recent plague that is blighting the "beautiful game", but a long standing one.
In the not so distant past, when football was a contact sport, the art of diving was almost non-existent. I am not saying it didn't happen, but that nowadays a player is protected by the referees so much that any touch by an opponent will allow the player to dive to the floor knowing that the referee will more than likely award a free kick. The possibility of winning a penalty is worth the risk if they know that a yellow card is the maximum punishment.
It is argued that the influx of foreign talent started this phenomenon, Jurgen Klinsmann being a prime example, but the excuses were that they had come from a culture where diving was acceptable and the Premier League was quicker than the leagues the foreign players were used to. Of course, all nationalities now take part in this cheating culture as it's become an "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality. Steve McManaman once said that when Glenn Hoddle was England manager he instructed his players to fall on contact because that's what the opposition would do.
So, is it acceptable? Football has grown globally over the past twenty years as the formation of the Premier League and Sky TV have both led to millions of pounds being invested into football. It is now a win at all costs mentality and with the stakes ever increasing, a manager's job is a results orientated one and although they have recently come out and criticised their own players, most recently David Moyes on Ashley Young, do they turn a blind eye to this tactic if it ultimately saves them their job?
Take this scenario: Team A are drawing 1-1 in a game they have to win in order to stay up and secure a penalty in the dying seconds due to simulation. The penalty is converted and the manager saves his job, but openly criticises his player, banning him for five matches. The player receives his "staying up" bonus and jets off to the Bahamas for his extended break. Who exactly has been punished?
What can be done? One sure way of stopping it is to send the player off, but the referee will have to be 100% positive that the player has dived, which is only proven after many television replays. However, banning the player retrospectively does not really punish the team either, because with squads full of talent, one player can usually be missed for three weeks. Hefty fines do not have the same effect on clubs with deep pockets, so the only logical way to stop this action is to deduct points from the club.
Another possible solution, however, is to learn from Rugby Union and the National Hockey League by having a sin bin. If a player is deemed to have dived, then he could serve a 10 minute spell in the bin whilst his team mates remain shorthanded for the duration. I'm sure a player would think twice about simulation if he were to receive that kind of wrath from his team mates.
Ultimately, it starts at the very bottom of the game. Youngsters look up to professional footballers and therefore it must be outlawed before it becomes an epidemic. The governing bodies have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the game, however, with the length of time it has taken for goal line technology to be introduced, I dont expect Fifa to be tackling this problem anytime soon.