Stories of unfair impact: Reward for Persistent Diving?


On the 6th day of the men’s World Cup, June 19th, Colombia play against Japan in the first round of the group stage. Japan score first, gaining a 1-0 advantage. At minute 36:48, Radamel Falcao (Colombia) dives just outside the box. He initiates back-to-back contact with Makoto Hasebe (Japan), then falls. There is no contact originated by Hasebe or momentum to account for Falcao falling to the ground.

Colombia take the free kick and score, bringing the scoreline to 1-1, which takes away Japan’s advantage. Nevertheless, Japan ultimately win the match 2-1. Both teams end up qualifying for the round of 16 but fail to advance to the quarter-finals.

Although this incident ostensibly has no significant bearing on qualification for the next round, it does appear to confirm the finding in the Queensland study mentioned earlier that players are more likely to ‘get away with it’ the more frequently they dive. Falcao dives 3 times in the 2 minutes immediately prior to the goal:

  • 35:36 - 1st dive results in Colombia being awarded a free kick in midfield. In this incident, Falcao’s body moves forward with more momentum than expected from the play (see video clip below).
  • 36:38 - 2nd dive takes place inside the box, but the referee decides not to award a penalty.
  • 36:48 - 3rd dive triggers the free kick that leads to the goal.

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