With the World Cup a mere six months away, it’s probably too late for FIFA to introduce any meaningful new anti-diving measures. Therefore it’s up to the fans, the advertisers, and the players themselves to do what they can to eliminate this most embarrassing element of jogo bonito.
Fans could pledge to stop buying products that feature, or that are endorsed by, the divers. No more posters. No more replica jerseys. No more video games if the person on the box is a known diver. Furthermore, the television-viewing fans could pledge to turn off their TVs for five minutes after every dive– we’ll see how purist FIFA is when their ratings drop after every dive.
Advertisers could refuse to allow divers to endorse their products. They could terminate endorsement deals with divers. They could write anti-diving language into all future endorsement contracts. These companies could band together to create a cross-brand advertising campaign: “Be a man.” It’d include TV/internet spots highlighting and lauding players who play through fouls, who shrug off rough handling, who don’t fall to the ground and cover their face when someone looks at their shoelaces the wrong way. I think one ad should highlight Robben’s run against Spain in the 2010 final: he got hacked pretty badly but played through and got a decent chance on goal. I think another ad should highlight notorious divers– especially those about to participate in the World Cup– and mock them mercilessly. Another ad could feature little kids promising that when they play in the backyard or on the beach or in the street, they will not pretend to be anyone notorious for diving. The campaign could include men and/or women from any sport (probably heavy on hockey, rugby, and American football, light on soccer and basketball), but they have to emphasize playing hard and tough and not diving.
Players could publicly take anti-diving pledges. “I will not disrespect the sport, the fans, the officials, my teammates, or my opponents through simulation, faking, diving, flopping, etc.” And, of course, the players could actually stop diving.
Ideally the campaign will be in full swing by the time I get out to Vegas to take in a game or two with Aabrock and Nikita. One can hope.