Diving is a widespread practice in professional football

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It is far too common to see players faking injuries in football matches. It happens over and over again, in every match, every few minutes.

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Players dive trying to deceive referees in hope they will gain advantage over their opponent; and sometimes they do.

Neymar (Brazil)

During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Neymar sparked more talk about his diving than about his skills or goals. He later apologised in a video that was ultimately taken down.

Neymar Brazil

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

A heated diving debate was triggered by Robben during the round of 16 match against Mexico in the 2014 World Cup. Robben later apologised for his dives in that match.

Arjen Robben Netherlands

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

In a 2006 World Cup match, Drogba fell in an unusual way after a challenge. The posture was later identified by a University study as the “Archer’s Bow” pose, a behaviour directly tied to deceptive intent.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

After kicking the ground and falling, Cristiano Ronaldo addresses the referee during a friendly match against Netherlands in 2018. His energetic plea for a penalty was refused.

Cristinao Ronaldo Portugal

But what is the real impact of diving?

We all know diving happens, but nobody knows how much it changes the course of matches and tournaments... until now!
Men´s World cup and Women´s World cup

Our team set out to measure the diving phenomenon for the first time ever.

We tracked dives and their impact during the 2018 Men’s World Cup in Russia and the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

What we did

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of footage

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What we found


Soccer cards icon

Unfair cards were produced


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Unfair goals were scored


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Times the score advantage changed

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Players in all positions dived, including defenders and goalkeepers

Divers by position

Distribution of all diving players, grouped by position. The width of the coloured lines indicates how many players dived the number of times shown on the vertical axis.

We also found praiseworthy examples of honour and honesty

Players who played one, two, five, seven matches without diving. These are the unsung heroes of the World Cups:

Linda Sembrant

  • Played 7 matches without a single dive.

Luka Modrić

N’Golo Kanté

Desiree van Lunteren

  • Played 7 matches without a single dive
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Learn more about succeeding without diving

The debate about whether diving is OK or not is an old one


But in truth, there shouldn’t be a debate

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Deceiving the referee is explicitly forbidden by the laws of the game.

Do we want youngsters to learn…

Fahter and son playing icon

… to succeed
through deception?

Let’s make football an example of honesty for the generations to come