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Tim Howard: 'I would encourage players to go down under contact'

However, for many fans, diving violates the spirit of competition and is a stain on the sport.

United States' goalkeeper Tim Howard talks to media members in Sao Paulo.
United States' goalkeeper Tim Howard talks to media members in Sao Paulo.

DIVING HAS BEEN one of the main talking points of the 2014 World Cup after Brazilian striker Fred egregiously flopped in the box against Croatia and earned his team a penalty in the opening game.

The Croatian coach went ballistic after the game, and French player Loic Remy said players like Fred should be retroactively punished for diving.

For many fans, diving violates the spirit of competition and is a stain on the sport.

But US men’s national team goalie Tim Howard sees it differently.

He told John Godfrey of American Soccer Now that it’s not the players’ responsibility to get rid of diving, it’s the referee’s responsibility to call it correctly. Howard said:

“I’ve got no problem with the Brazilian player going down. I would encourage my own players, if they felt contact, to go down. It’s the referee’s job and obligation and responsibility to get it right.”

He’s right.

The referee’s job is to adjudicate what is and isn’t a violation of the game’s rules. Just as it’s the referee’s fault (not the player’s fault) if a foul goes unpunished or if an offside violation goes uncalled, it’s the referee’s fault if a dive leads to a penalty.

Diving is the only rule violation that we consistently blame on the players.

Who would we blame if a defender put his hand up and yelled for an offside call, even though the attacker was onside, and the referee wrongly blew his whistle?

The ref, obviously, not the player. It should be the same for diving.

Diving isn’t a risk-free act. Referees can give out yellow cards for simulation, and many times players take themselves out of a play by going down easily in the box. The player isn’t at fault if the ref sees it wrong.

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