Ugly diving plaguing Beautiful Game
Jun Marques Davidson of Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps went down like he had been shot.
The midfielder was tapped in the face by Julian de Guzman of Toronto FC in a Canadian club championship match on Wednesday, May 23.
Davidson fell to the ground, writhing in apparent pain, and stayed down until a Whitecaps trainer came to his aid.
It was a dive — and it was embarrassing, said Tom McManus, Kamloops Youth Soccer Association’s (KYSA) technical director.
“I thought [the] incident was just such a joke,” he said.
“A little tap in the face and there’s a big dive. If a pro has to do something like that, to me you’re not a pro.”
It can be argued the red card Guzman received was warranted, considering raising a hand to an opposing player’s face is not tolerated in the Beautiful Game.
It was Davidson’s reaction — and the impression it might have left with on-the-fence soccer fans and young Canadian players — that angered McManus.
“We’ve been trying to promote the game here, yet people will see this and say, ‘That was ridiculous,’” McManus said.
“They say it’s embarrassing watching that. And it is. The kids will see it on TV, too.”
McManus, a professional player in his younger days, has been anti-diving since becoming a coach in the early 1980s.
“A few years ago, I was coaching an under-18 team and this guy kept diving,” said McManus, whose coaching resumé includes stops with the national women’s team, the McMaster Marauders and the TRU WolfPack.
“I said, ‘Get off the park,’ and told the ref I was pulling him.”
Diving in professional soccer is likely here to stay.
McManus said it would be nice if governing bodies, coaches and referees took a hard-line stance on the problem, if only to reduce the amount of flailing in the game.
“You watch the World Cup and the diving and rolling around for half an hour,” he said.
“I hate it.”
Fortunately, said McManus, flopping is a relatively rare occurrence in the Canadian minor and amateur soccer ranks — and he will do his part to keep it that way.
“We’re pretty heavy on explaining to kids we don’t want to see that garbage going on,” McManus said.
“If you want to dive, you’re not on my team. I don’t need you around.”