Is it a dive if there’s contact? I’d say yes. If a player makes the decision to go to ground, they are diving. If a player can stay on their feet but chooses to fall over in attempt to win a penalty, after contact has been made from the opposition, I believe that to be a dive.
The problem is, some players are stronger than others. Wayne Rooney is a player who usually stays on his feet, to his detriment. When playing for England in the last World Cup he was fouled numerous times in the run-up to his sending off. Had he chosen to go to ground he won have rightly won a free-kick and that would have been the end of it.
A referee wouldn’t award a penalty for a player who had been kicked in the penalty area, but didn’t go to ground, so is it just common sense to play for a penalty when your opponent has been foolish enough to make contact, as Rafael was with Pedersen on Saturday? Who knows, I’m not getting in to the morals of it, but I will say Pedersen dived.
Ferguson – No penalty
“The boy Pedersen dived. There is no question about that at all. Yet Cristiano Ronaldo gets booked for the same thing and Pedersen doesn’t. Both cases were the same. You have to give either a penalty or a yellow card.”
Pedersen – Penalty
“You don’t want to go down at Old Trafford, you want to try and score a goal. Rafael got his arms round my shoulder – that’s the key thing. If the referee thinks I was diving I should have got a yellow card like Ronaldo did. They’re two situations but I’m not the referee. I felt something on my shoulder. He got his arms around my shoulder. People will probably look at my legs but I felt something and it’s not like I tried go down, I had a great opportunity to score.”
The Independent – No penalty
Big Sam Allardyce was naturally aggrieved when Morten Gamst Pedersen failed to gain a penalty after Rafael da Silva briefly draped an arm on his shoulder – and certainly no one could dispute the raging inconsistency of referee Howard Webb, who ruled out the spot-kick but omitted to hand out the yellow card produced so quickly for Ronaldo. Pedersen’s fall seemed no more artful than the Ronaldo flop.
Sky Sports – Penalty
Having lost one lead, it seemed unlikely the hosts would do it again, yet Rafael Da Silva was incredibly lucky to escape when he put his hands on Morten Gamst Pedersen’s shoulders in an attempt to get into a tackling position as the Norwegian burst into the box. Pedersen went down. Webb said no.
The Guardian – No penalty
The whole afternoon was much the same, with old controversies renewed and Blackburn’s allegations of refereeing bias gaining volume when Webb decided not to award a penalty after Rafael da Silva placed a hand on Morten Gamst Pedersen’s shoulder as he chased him into the United penalty area. Allardyce suggested, pointedly, that Old Trafford could “intimidate” match officials, an argument that was undermined by the fact Webb had earlier disallowed a perfectly legitimate Jonny Evans goal for a perceived foul by Ronaldo. In any case, football should surely not be encouraging players who automatically hit the ground as soon as there is even a feather’s weight of contact. Pedersen denied Ferguson’s accusation of a “blatant dive” but perhaps in the future he will take the old-fashioned option of trying to score rather than win a penalty.