Can You Fool the Referee in Soccer?


Full marks for style, Wayne Rooney – (Photo:

While such methods of the dark arts are frowned upon by media critics and the majority of fans (especially those from the opposing team), there are many players that try to fool the referees during soccer games.  The transgressions range from the simple act of writhing on the floor after a harmless challenge in an effort to coax a yellow card out of the ref to blatantly diving in the penalty box in the hopes of luring a penalty kick and sometimes even a red card for the opposing player.  And while camera angles and replays can prove the ill behavior of such performers, their actions usually go unpunished, further encouraging such menial behavior.  Many players realize this and decide to join in the fun, becoming perennial divers throughout their career.

The first thing you need to think about in regards to this aspect of soccer is your morals.  Sure, at the youth level of soccer (without all the nifty camera angles) you may get away with these actions and no one will ever know.  However, there will be refs that catch you, and they’ll surely give you a swift yellow card.  If that is something you’re OK with, in addition to the embarrassment of being caught cheating in front of your parents and friends, then go right ahead and start diving.  Most people, however, have some degree of ethics that will prevent them from wanting to be known as a diver.

While sheer talent may enable you to overcome this black stain, having a reputation as a diving player is not a good one.  For one, once referees know you’re a cheat, they’ll be less likely to award you free kicks for when someone does legitimately foul you.  It’s like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.  Watching these players complain to the referee when they get fouled but ignored is one of soccer’s most enjoyable moments.

Meanwhile, I have to think that such antics cloud your mind.  You’ll be plotting your next fabulous dive instead of how you can legitimately beat your opponent.  Yes, you might win and get away with a clean dive every now and then, but you’ll be hurting your soul in the process, in addition to your actual skills.

Sportsmanship is about integrity and playing the game the right way, win or lose.  The problem with diving in the professional leagues is that the stakes are so incredibly high.  With millions of dollars at play in certain games, as well as the constant pressure put on the players to succeed, their actions are somewhat understandable, as weak minded as they may be.

But for a U-12 player or high school soccer player, there is no room for diving in the sport of soccer.  Yes, referees are real people and they cannot see everything, so you’re diving may fool them once or twice, but eventually you’ll be playing in a league with high-definition cameras and you will be caught.  Most likely a referee or linesman will catch you with their eyes and give you a nice little yellow card reminder to stop.  Personally, I feel that diving should be punished far harsher, but the game has yet to progress to such a level.  Anyways, in my mind there’s no room for diving in soccer, regardless of whether you can fool a ref or not!


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