Diving in football is an epidemic, but one of the biggest problems is that some of the world’s most famous players do it quite consistently, on the biggest stage possible: From Critstiano Ronaldo, maybe the most recognizable athlete in the world, to Ashley Young, who isn’t a big star, but plays for the most popular side, Manchester United.
Big teams worry about their reputations, but if something like diving and cheating helps them win, so be it. Footballers care about what fans think about them as well, but it seems like when it comes to sacrificing one’s image in order to win a foul or a penalty kick, they’re willing to do it.
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo & Gareth Bale
The Ronaldo case is interesting because he really doesn’t need the diving. He’s the world’s most physically gifted footballer, yet time after time he decides to give some more reasons to hate him. Not just how easily he drops from the slightest of touches, clutching his face (which is always the best sign to identify someone faking an injury), not to mention his angry fits towards referees, lying about handballs and similar incidents.
Bale is more of strictly diving player. It is true that sometimes because of his incredible speed with the ball he simply does it to avoid tackles, but there’s a way to do everything, and Bale usually chooses the most theatrical option at his disposal to try and win a foul, which included that horrible dive against Sevilla, and even lying afterwards about feeling like he was touched by someone.
FC Barcelona – Sergio Busquets & Neymar
To every Yin there’s a Yang. Real Madrid love to complain about Barcelona diving; Barcelona do the same, while adding brutality from Pepe and others into their grievance system. Sergio Busquets is truly a phenomenon when it comes to his fragility. One of the most sturdy players Barcelona have, but for some reason so easy to drop, even without even touching him. Even the most elegant of teams need a villain.
Neymar was known for his diving back in Brazil, and things haven’t changed that much in Barcelona. He’s probably one of the more kicked around players there is, and Neymar has added a very theatrical flair to his foul claims, which includes rubbing his shin very quickly and seriously, making it always seem like the’s been run over by a train instead of simply clipped by a leg.
Manchester United – Ashley Young
Young isn’t the only dirty player Manchester United have; Robin van Persie has unique ways of fouling people and is known to be quite the hot head, while Nani, when he’s actually playing, can be quite annoying when he decides to try and milk the referee for fouls. However, Young has an endless lists of shamelessly diving with or without even the slightest of touches, beginning in the 2011-2012 season against QPR and Aston Villa, and he’s added to his repertoire this season against Crystal Palace and now Real Sociedad.
Bayern Munich – Arjen Robben
Robben is as frustrating as a player can be for many reasons, but his diving and the pain his face expresses when play acting has to be one of the more annoying things for an opponents to watch after knowing perfectly well he’s done nothing at all to the Dutch winger.