Hyundai A-League Head of Referees Ben Wilson says that while diving isn't prevalent in the league it can still do major damage to the image of the sport.
Simulation reared it-s head at the weekend and there has been plenty said about the actions of Jeronimo Neumann since and while it was decided Jeronimo had no case to answer, Hyundai A-League referees boss Ben Wilson is keen to see simulation removed from football.
While it may be a huge problem the world over, Wilson believes that despite the current uproar it is not a huge problem in Australia, suggesting the current penalties ‘divers- can receive are working.
“Simulation has been identified by FIFA as a concern of the game around the world and that-s why there are laws in place to deal with it, in terms of where it ranks from my perspective in the A-League we are primarily concerned with protecting the safety of the player. Those sorts of bad tackles we saw in round two, for us it is more important that we focus on those,” Wilson said.
“I don-t know that simulation is a scourge on the game in Australia, on a worldwide scale it-s probably a major concern for FIFA, but in Australia we handle it reasonably well and the Australian supporters and players don-t approve of players simulating, it-s not that common in the A-League.
“I think we have got a fairly robust process to deter players in Australia from simulating and it appears on the whole to be working.”
While diving may not be that common, when it appears to be apparent, and in the eyes of many pundits it was on the weekend in Adelaide the damage to the game can be huge, there-s no shortage of easy stories for the media when it looks like someone flopped to the turf in mock agony, and the impact an increase in diving could have is something Wilson is acutely aware of.
“The potential damage that can be done to the games image by players simulating and not being picked up by the referee is a large concern for us,” he said.
“It then becomes an opportunity for Australian sporting journalists to compare the contact and perhaps the toughness to that the other football codes compared to the A-League, where the appearance could be that players might fall down more easily than they would in league or union for example.”
“That risk is there for all codes though and even the AFL have followed football-s lead in a way in introducing penalties for players that simulate to get free kicks.
“In that regard football is ahead in terms of trying to stamp out this sort of behaviour.”
With debate still raging over the Jeronimo/Sigmund incident, Wilson attempted to clear up why the actions of the Adelaide player were not considered to be an act of simulation.
“Was the player trying to deceive the referee by pretending to have been fouled?
“I think most people would acknowledge there was a foul there, the fact that he may have exaggerated that contact more than what it was doesn-t necessarily lead to a yellow card for simulation because there was actually a foul there in the first place.”
Given that stance the question arises of how was it any different to the incident when Melbourne Victory hosted Adelaide and Marcos Flores was dealt a yellow card for simulation?
“In the Flores case there was no foul and Flores fell to the ground pretending to be fouled. On Sunday, Jeronimo was held on the shoulder and also possibly tripped and so was fouled.”