ANOTHER round of Premier League fixtures and again we have a ‘did he?’ diving debate on the crown jewel of Welsh football, Gareth Bale.
This time the tumbling Tottenham winger was booked for simulation at the Stadium of Light and as a result he misses today’s clash with Reading after picking up three successive yellow cards for impersonating Tom Daley.
If there is flippancy to that description it’s entirely merited because the current system for dealing with this absolute scourge of the game is fatally flawed, to the point of being entirely useless.
These aren’t the rantings of a bitter Spurs fan, rather the opinion of someone with an ounce of common sense. But you can be the judge of that.
Bale’s booking at Sunderland was in many ways the worst miscarriage of justice yet for a player whose card has now been well and truly marked.
It was a penalty. The contact on Bale looked minimal on first glance - a hand across the midriff - but on replay it is clear he takes a pretty full contact to the knee and is knocked off balance.
It is impossible to explain why a player at the peak of his powers and in the form of his career, on the back of a first Premier League hat-trick, would fall over when he’s clean through on goal.
A shot at goal for Bale would of course be preferable to him than Emmanuel Adebayor taking a penalty.
Referee Martin Atkinson made a mistake, booking Bale when another player would’ve been simply told to get to his feet.
That’s an opinion that can be proved, because at the end of the first half in the same game Jermain Defoe was guilty of one of the worst dives you’ll ever see. He wasn’t booked.
Contrast that to the recent game at the Emirates between Arsenal and West Brom.
Santi Cazorla dives for a penalty, the referee gives it, Arsenal go on to win the game. Cazorla’s punishment is three points and possibly an assist bonus.
That’s because the Football Association hamper themselves in dealing adequately with the issue of diving.
Firstly, there must be retrospective action taken against divers whose offences are missed by the official.
Cazorla and Defoe should be retrospectively booked for their dives. Bale should’ve been retrospectively booked for an earlier offence this season.
Similarly it is time the FA relinquished this absurd block on teams being able to appeal incorrect yellow cards.
Three times now Bale has been incorrectly booked because it’s been decided that, like Luis Suarez; he falls too dramatically and too easily.
I wouldn’t disagree that he doesn’t help himself, but Bale should not be serving a suspension.
It’s unfair on him and the supporters who have paid to watch him play. And each individual occurrence must be treated on its merits.
A point in case is Theo Walcott. At Wigan over Christmas he won a game-winning penalty going down very, very easily but on Saturday against Newcastle waltzed through a definite foul on him to sublimely chip home a hat-trick goal.
Possible diver to bravely staying on his feet in the space of one fixture.
No player is a complete cheat but very few players don’t at times look to gain an unfair advantage through simulation - that’s the reality of football as we head into 2013.
Gareth Bale is nothing more than the Cristiano Ronaldo or Didier Drogba of his day, a player under greater scrutiny of a widespread problem.
So it’s time for the FA to act accordingly.
They need to make fundamental changes to how they deal with diving in order to add fairness to an issue affecting every club in every game.
The need for retrospective punishment and an ability to overturn refereeing mistakes has become essential and until it is introduced the issue isn’t going to change an iota in British football.