Frustration continues to build at Liverpool following last weekend's controversial loss to Manchester United and manager Brendan Rodgers believes that frustration could push his players to dive. Something he says they don't already do, which would make them pretty much the only team in the world that doesn't.
From the Guardian:
"I'm concerned that we've not had any sort of rub of the green from officials," Rodgers said. "We like to think we are a sporting team, I have always told my players to do the right thing, not to dive, to play fair. But the fairness we show, it seems the decisions pass us by because of it. There are so many decisions that have gone against us.
"It would be a shame if players who respect the rules and managers who are asking players to stay on their feet and not dive are not getting the decisions because of it. I think it is important that referees understand that. It has been a criticism of the last few years of players going down too easy. It is not something we want to encourage but if you're not going to get decisions because of it players may do that."
These comments come just after the second episode of Being: Liverpool aired, in which Rodgers was shown repeatedly demanding his players stay on their feet during preseason training. Yet, as Rodgers implies, this is why diving is so prevalent -- if a player sees that exaggeration/simulation works for others and that trying to stay on upright leads to missed calls, diving to stay competitive can seem logical and maybe even necessary. Especially in a time where there is so much riding on immediate and constant success.
But if you get a reputation for being a faker and the referees catch on, there can be consequences. And Rodgers thinks Luis Suarez is suffering those consequences.
"Suárez has had a couple of good penalty appeals, he hasn't dived, they have been legitimate, and he's actually got booked. He went down at Sunderland and it looked a clear penalty and he ended up getting booked for it. Last weekend in the Manchester United game there was more contact in his case than there was in Antonio Valencia's and Valencia gets a penalty and we get nothing other than a hard-luck story.
"I'm not sure [Suárez's reputation is influencing officials] — you'd need to ask the referees — but he is a wonderful talent and irrespective of whether he goes down, if it's a penalty, it's a penalty. What I have seen, he certainly doesn't ever look like he is going to get a decision and that is something which would bother me going forward."
Ideally, Rodgers is correct in his belief that each individual ruling should not be influenced by reputation, but referees don't have the advantage of instant replay. And when you can only see an incident once at full speed, the question of "Does this player usually go down too easy?" becomes a way to decide the most likely scenario.
Maybe if Suarez wore this during matches, he'd get the benefit of the doubt more often...