Diving & Angle Shooting: Where Football and Poker Collide

Ivan Freitez
Ivan Freitez's alleged angle shooting at 2011 EPT Grand Final just one example.

What is your abiding memory of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil?

Is it the spanking the Dutch handed out to the Spanish? The thunderous volleys of Tim Cahill or James Rodriguez?

Is it the host of beauties the TV cameramen keep picking out of the crowds?

Do you know what my abiding memory is?

The diving, the cheating and the apparent acceptance of it in our modern game. It disgusts me, it appalls me and it worries me.

Play Acting "Part of the Game"

My son is a late bloomer as far as football is concerned. He's just started playing the game at 13 years old.

How will he react when he is challenged in the penalty box? Before you answer that question bear in mind that I have just bought him a Portugal shirt with the name ‘Ronaldo’ written on the back.

When I played football I would never dive and I don’t remember it really being that prevalent in the games I played in.

These days I wouldn’t be surprised to see diving as part of the FIFA 2015 video game. It’s become so prevalent the commentators actually criticize players when they don’t dive.

Chiles apoplectic over Mueller dive; Vieira not so much.

It caused an almighty furor during ITV coverage of the Germany v Portugal group game after Thomas Mueller’s play acting and the stupidity of Pepe led to his sending off.

Adrian Chiles and Lee Dixon were going crazy about the reaction of Mueller and yet Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro were chilled. In their belief Mueller had done nothing wrong because play-acting is ‘part of the game.’

“If the rules change, then the behavior of the players will change,” said Vieira.

Waiting for Play-Acting Technology to Catch Up

The rules don’t do enough to prevent this from happening. The deception of players has become so ingenious that it’s almost impossible for the officials to spot.

This is why I was excited to hear that Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is investing a significant portion of his bank balance into technology that can be used to map the physics of play-acting in sport.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is the first time in the history of the game that we have seen goal-line technology used.

Will 2018 FIFA World Cup birth play-acting technology?

I have my fingers crossed that the 2018 FIFA World Cup is the first time we use play-acting technology.

Players who dive should be found out after the event, banned and heavily fined.

And only until this happens will our children stop diving around like their heroes Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.

Is This Any Different Than Angle Shooting?

So what does this have to do with poker?

Footballers dive to gain an edge by pushing the boundaries of the game's rules. The professional players in the game, who are paid millions of pounds and are seen as role models throughout the world, blatantly cheat.

And they do so for no other reason than they (a) feel like it’s a part of the game and (b) can get away with it.

Is this any different than angle shooting in poker, which is essentially a method of using an edge to your advantage that pushes the boundaries of our laws?

Players who are caught angle shooting never really receive a serious enough penalty for it to act as a future deterrent.

In fact they are rarely even brought to task, and most of the culprits actually believe it’s just part of the game.

Something Specific or Something Universal?

In the past four years I have worked all over the world covering live tournaments and the two countries that I see angle shooting more than any other are France and Italy.

SanRemo Casino
A geography issue?

Is it a coincidence that in the aforementioned debate held between Childs, Dixon, Vieira and Cannavaro that the two people who saw no problems with diving were an Italian and a Frenchman?

There's a view in English football that diving is a European problem and that it was never a part of our game until the Premier League was formed and European players flooded our leagues.

So I wonder if the French and the Italians are just raised to push the laws as far as they can?

Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the French and Italian footballers think diving and play-acting is part of the game and French and Italian poker players aren’t afraid of the odd angle shot.

Or am I just seeing things that aren’t there?

Is angle shooting equally as prevalent all over the world? And do the English players also dive and play act in front of my mole-like eyes?

What’s your view?

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Lee Davy 2014-07-03 21:01:55

Good points Mr. Lion.

Germany 2014-07-03 03:33:02

50 years of utter failure must have left deep scars on the English soul. Pepe - who would be in jail if he wasn't a footballer - headbutted Mueller, who then jumped up and told Pepe a couple of needful things. Play-acting was not involved. What do you think your hero Ronaldo would have done. Of all players in the world you support him by buying a jersey with his name on it.
Not mentioning that you don't consider Britain to be part of Europe. A true Englishman...

mr. lion 2014-07-02 15:43:48

I can tell you my ideas about this article and there's a few of them:
1. Unfortunately Diving, Acting, Angle Shooting, Simulating... you name it... are parts of sport in general and of football in particular. Players do that (cheating) for the same reason humans do this in other life aspects.

2. You cannot blame the footballers trying to cheat when there's a bigger problem with cheating or error-making (without consequences) at higher levels (FIFA officials, referees, match fixing mobsters and so on).

3. The idea of a play-acting technology is pure science fiction (the dynamics involved, the hidden hits, angle problems, the way a player feels a foul - one thing for a 60 kg player and totally different thing for a 100 kg player! and much much more). We just don't have the necessary means to develop it. For once. And second, FIFA doesn't agree with the idea of television match officials (like in tennis or rugby), do you think they would agree with that?

4. There are players that aren't banned after the matches even though they committed serious foul plays or violent acts (like Diego Costa elbowing an opponent vs Netherlands, or Matuidi's disgusting foul against a Nigerian player resulting in a double fracture of tibia and fibula). Everyone saw this but FIFA officials are blind. Why?

5. If you you're buying your kid a T-shirt with C. Ronaldo (who is well known for years for its diving 'skills', simulations and his cry-baby attitude) can you blame the cheating players? Have you ever thought that is more important to promote sportsmanship and a fair-play attitude rather than a star created by media? You could have bought him instead a T-shirt with Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose or Diego Forlan but it wouldn't have been as cool as Ronaldo's right?

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