According to a study published in 2011 by authors from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia, entitled “Evidence from Diving Behaviour in Soccer Players”, the diving player is more likely to ‘get away with it’ the more frequently they dive. This is counterintuitive and a pattern rarely observed in animal mimicry in the natural world, where deception is found to be less successful the more frequently it is attempted.
Diving appears to be a self-feeding mechanism: the more a player dives, the more probable it becomes that they will be rewarded. We saw one such case in the last World Cup.
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:
This study proposes that there are two main reasons for this:
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