PFA chief Gordon Taylor backs Sportsmail's campaign to get rid of the cheats

Gordon Taylor

PFA chief executive GORDON TAYLOR lends his support to Sportsmail’s No Diving campaign by asking the players themselves to stand up — quite literally — to diving cheats and play within the spirit of the game. He also criticises UEFA for undermining referees by handing out retrospective punishments which only add to the problem...

The season is only a few weeks old yet, sadly, the agenda has been dominated by the issue of high-profile players simulating contact or injury to gain an advantage.

I read with interest the words of former official Graham Poll, in these pages. He stated that the PFA should work tirelessly to stop our members from the ‘act of cheating to win’.

Well, I can assure you that neither the PFA nor any of our members condone diving and we work hard to make sure they are fully aware of their responsibilities to fellow professionals and the game in general.

Diving is a form of cheating and we only have one message on the matter — that we want to see it out of our game.

Clubs, managers, the PFA and the media — such as the No Diving campaign in these
pages — can influence and educate players not to cheat.

Referees and the FA can come down hard on those they consider are doing so.

Indeed, there have been many examples of top players coming into this country who
have adapted their game as they have come to understand what is acceptable to  fellow professionals and supporters.

Think back to when Jurgen Klinsmann arrived at White Hart Lane. All the talk was of
his diving, but the only time he did so was to cheekily celebrate a goal.

Klinsmann celebrates for Spurs

Good humoured: Klinsmann celebrates

This is how football has always approached such problems and always should. It is far better than the use of a ‘video referee’ in the stands, whose job would be to make the game less dependent on the chance that a referee makes the correct decision.

Chance and human error are part of sport and add a valuable element to its enduring and universal appeal.

UEFA took the step of banning Eduardo retrospectively and, in so doing, used the very
technology they refuse to incorporate into games.

In making this decision, UEFA have left themselves a hostage to fortune. In theory, they should now treat every player in the same way and punish them for each and every offence that the referee gets wrong. Yet, strangely, they do not see it like this.

For the last year we, the PFA, together with the football bodies, have had a ‘Respect’ campaign encouraging respect by players for the referee.

In the opinion of the referees, this has been very successful in reducing incidents of harassment by almost 50 per cent.

UEFA now seem to be changing this perspective to say that they will now ‘referee’ matches retrospectively and punish players who commit simulation offences in a draconian way. This is a very dangerous path to tread.

Are we heading towards a point where they could even alter the decision of a referee who is shown to make a completely incorrect decision and change the result of a match? I hope not.

Technology should also be used in instances where a player has been unjustly
penalised. Let us not forget that Darren Fletcher of Manchester United was denied
a Champions League final appearance due to the refusal of UEFA to review the red card he was wrongly given in last season’s semi-final against Arsenal.

If UEFA want to proceed in this manner, they must cut both ways.

Gordon Taylor was talking to Richard Copeman

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