Faking injuries is, unfortunately, a classic practice in soccer, and one of the most disdained acts in the game. The point is to trick referees and officials into punishing the opposing teams, but let's be honest: It's blatant cheating. As officials have suggested, players "crying wolf" can negatively affect the treatment of players who are actually injured.
Thankfully, at least one league is finally starting to crack down. England's Football Association created a new rule this offseason against faking injuries on the field, and Welling United striker Sahr Kabba has become the first cheater caught. Under the new rule, if a player feigns an injury that results in another player being incorrectly red-carded for "violent conduct," the faker is open to charges.
Kabba, playing against Tranmere Rovers last Saturday in England's fifth division of professional soccer, was able to get Tranmere defender Ritchie Sutton sent off with a straight red card after Sutton allegedly used his elbow to hurt Kabba. Kabba, however, was faking his pain, and according to Tranmere manager Gary Brabin, video evidence proved that no contact was ever made between Sutton and Kabba. He's been charged with "allegedly exaggerating or feigning an injury which directly led to an opponent being dismissed," and a three-match ban has been levied against him.
Footage of the incident, captured by BT Sport, clearly shows Kabba diving after Sutton backs up into him.
Which then warranted this lovely acting job from Kabba, who looked up and stopped playing the role of a mortally wounded man only after the referee pulled out his red card for Sutton.
Following the match, Tranmere appealed the red card to the Football Association's Regulatory Commission. Sutton won his appeal and his red card was rescinded on Tuesday.
Frankly, a rule like this, which addresses a serious integrity issue within the sport, should've been instituted YEARS ago. In recent years, leagues have taken to punishing players for similar acts of cheating, so this latest rule seems like a natural progression in soccer's ongoing governance. For example, sanctions against diving to win penalties -- the cousin of make-believe injuries -- have been handed down by both UEFA and MLS in recent years, but cheaters like Kabba have gone unchecked.
Across international soccer, opportunistic players and coaches have been taking advantage of the sport's absence of in-game instant replay for referees. This shit is embarrassing:
International soccer leagues need to follow England's proactivity and implement their own rules against feigned injuries. It's common sense, really. And thankfully, England's new rule is simple and easy to decipher and retroactively act upon when clear video evidence is available. Similar to how the NBA cracked down on flopping and the NFL started fining players for faking injuries in 2012, soccer leagues can and should crack down on its most nefarious players.
As Kabba's case has shown, the rule is already working, too! Woo-hoo! Now that we're less than a month into the new European soccer season, let's all join together and congratulate Sahr Kabba for earning the shameful distinction as England's first suspended injury faker.
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