First of all, what is diving? Well, most people agree it is when a player falls to the ground pretending that he or she has been fouled in an attempt to con the ref. The player hopes the referee will believe a foul has been committed and award a free kick, penalty, or book the other player involved. If the player succeeds they win a free kick or win a penalty. Diving can also be referred to as simulation.
There may be contact between the players but not enough to cause someone to fall or lose their balance – in this situation there is minimal contact, or the defending player may only brush his opponent. If the player falls, they go down too easily. To emphasise the fact that it was a dive the commentator may say, he went down easily. In clearer cases the dive may be described in this way: he went down as if he was shot or he went down like a sack of potatoes.
The dive may be described as theatrical and carrying on the acting metaphor the player may be said to ‘deserve an Oscar for the dive’. To emphasise the fact that the fall was deliberate and not the result of contact, it can be called a tumble, or the player is described as taking a tumble.
If the player’s dive is successful and they win a decision, they got away with it, they hoodwinked the ref. When the replay is examined the commentator can call the decision soft – for example, it was a soft penalty – meaning the free kick or penalty shouldn’t have been given. Players who regularly take a tumble in the box gain a reputation as divers. This reputation can then precede the player – his reputation precedes him – and they may not win a legitimate decision because the referee believes he player is likely to have dived.
Many English pundits and players believe that diving is a foreign import that didn’t exist in the English game until large numbers of players from abroad arrived. They call for diving to be stamped out. Whether this is true or not is debatable, but what is not is the fact that most fans would accept a penalty in the last 5 minutes of the game even if it was won theatrically as their player tumbled in the box with the slightest of touches.
Football vocabulary and phrases used in this listening report
con the ref: deceive the referee
simulation: cheating; pretending to be fouled
minimal contact: the slightest of touches; not a lot of contact
brush : touch slightly; gently touch
go down like a sack of potatoes: fall heavily and suddenly, as if someone has dropped a large bag of potatoes
theatrical: to describe an actor or acting
tumble: fall, but in an amusing or childish way
hoodwink: to fool, cheat, trick
soft: easily awarded; easily given; not merited