Luis Suarez has a reputation for diving. Whether it is deserved is another question but the fact of the matter is that the reputation exists. It exists in the minds of the fans, it exists in the minds of the players, it exists in the minds of the managers and especially, it exists in the minds of the referees.
This has now put an extra strain on the men in black. Imagine that you were the referee during any given Liverpool game and, in a quite conceivable scenario, the opposition lose possession, Liverpool counter up the field and Luis Suarez is played in by a Hollywood ball from Steven Gerrard. Suarez, who has just ‘megged one defender, who now looks very foolish in front of his girlfriend sitting in the stands, is just about to go past another. Except this time, the Uruguayan hits the deck. Now, as the referee, you have to give a call instantly but you aren’t sure if genuine contact was made. You know the defender didn’t get the ball, but did he get the man?
The easy way out would be to look over to the linesman, who was right in line with the challenge and you’re hoping against hope that he is able to make the call for you. ‘I didn’t see it, John’ he says into your earpiece. This is surprising not just because, from point-blank range, you expected him to make the decision, but also because your name isn’t John.
So now what? You know from your training that you can’t give anything that you’re not certain about which will surely mean waving play on. Except the ball has now rather inconveniently gone out over the byline. Now you’re faced with an even more complex scenario. You can’t give a corner because what you do know is that the defender didn’t touch the ball. Reversely, to give a goal kick would imply that you thought that Suarez dived, and thus you should have to give him a yellow card for simulation.
As a football man, you already knew that Suarez is prone to the odd tumble. You could just book him without knowing for sure if he dived. He is South American after all and them lot do love to go down easily. Alternatively, you could think ‘right, I know that there have been a few occasions already this season where Suarez has been denied a few stonewall penalties. If I don’t give this one then people will think I’m part of some sort of conspiracy. If I do give it then even if he did dive, at least it will make up for all the other weeks.