2014 World Cup: Flopping in Soccer Will Not Be Eliminated Any Time Soon

By Craig Pearson
Arjen Robben is tackled by Gary Medel of Chile
Getty Images

Win at all costs — we’ve all heard that saying before. Perhaps now it should be altered to win at all costs except for flopping. Although, all costs should incorporate flopping and everything else, surely. The debate on flopping, or diving depending in where you are in the world, has raged during the World Cup, but a difference in cultures means eliminating it is impossible over a short period of time.

In some countries it is seen as a form of cheating, yet in others it’s a tactic of gaining an advantage. In England it is seen as a form of cheating, yet over and over again, players from different countries and cultures join the Premier League and they flop from the moment they set foot on the pitch and see no wrong in what they are doing.

Over time and with criticism, some players eradicate it from their game, but some don’t. How do you convince a player who grew up flopping and learning to gain every little advantage that what they have been doing all this time is flat out wrong? In many countries it is seen as cleverly gaining an advantage, and if you are skillful enough to take that advantage, then well done. And if you’re silly enough to poke your leg out in the penalty box, then that’s your fault.

During this World Cup, when England played Uruguay and England were eliminated from the tournament, there was an incident which outlined the issue at hand pretty well. Uruguay defender Diego Godin was already on a yellow card, and after elbowing England striker Daniel Sturridge in the face, he should have been sent off without any question. He was not, though, and the reaction of Sturridge to get up as if nothing had happened, in a sense, helped Godin get away with the foul he had committed.

If Sturridge had rolled around on the grass exaggerating the contact, Godin would probably have ended up getting a second yellow card at least and been sent off. Now you can say well done to Sturridge, but some would say that if you adopted the win at all costs mentality of others then you might just win a bit more than you do. You almost certainly wouldn’t have lost that game with an extra man advantage. As honest as it was, England were eliminated and flying home not long after.

A Liverpool teammate of Sturridge, Luis Suarez, has been a notorious flopper ever since he joined the Premier League. Criticized for what the English media see as blatant cheating, Suarez just doesn’t see what the problem is. To him, he has won a penalty and he’s done well. If anything, he thinks he has been wrongly singled out and that there is an agenda against him.

There is a chance that Suarez could leave Liverpool this summer and join either Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain where he will almost certainly not be accused of cheating. The same view is not taken in that culture as it is in others. So how do you change a whole country and their culture? Can you educate a country or is it a personal choice? Who’s educating who?

In the NBA, flopping has been on the increase in recent years too, but the advantage of the NBA is that it is a competition played in one country with one governing body. The rules are the rules, and everybody is governed by them. How does the English FA tell the Spansh FA to follow their rules instead? What about the German FA and the French FA? It’s a global sport in which each country governs their league by their rules defined in their culture.

The outcries will continue in this World Cup, no doubt, as there will surely be more flopping to come, but just because it outrages some people doesn’t mean it outrages everybody. Getting everybody on the same page regarding the issue is an issue in itself, because to some countries it is not necessarily an issue. Or, it is an issue, but it’s yours, not theirs.


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