Ask most people what they dislike about football, diving is right at the top of the list. Fight the Flop is a group of dedicated football fans keen to see the swan dive return to its proper place - the swimming pool. The group formed in response to a laughable flop from the Italian player, De Rossi, during last year's World Cup Finals in South Africa. "That sparked the whole movement," says Taylor Amarante, the co-founder. "Flopping compromises the integrity of the sport and the honor. There are very few ways to compromise football. Other sports have trick plays or ways to cheat but with football it has always been cut and dry. Now it has come down to players thinking they can get away with cheating. Things have got out of control and now players believe they can compromise the results of matches with penalty kicks and tricking referees. It's a big problem."
The diving act has had many stars over the years. German international, Jurgen Klinsmann, is at the top of the program, performing phony acrobatics that earned spectacular results during his illustrious career. Dutch ace, Arjen Robben, brought an almost Calvinistic creed to diving, as if he were pre-destined to get a penalty kick, and therefore absolved of any guilt in the pursuit of that end; Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has earned his diver’s credential on many a plunge.
The penalty for diving is a yellow card. It seems like a risk worth taking when unfairly winning a penalty kick could swing the game. But why would a professional want to cheat in the first place?
"Flopping compromises the integrity of the sport and the honor. There are very few ways to compromise football. Other sports have trick plays or ways to cheat but with football it has always been cut and dry."
Start here - the more a team wins, the higher the market value of the players, and more bank for the club's coffers. And when has football ever been about fairness? The ball lands over the goal line and no camera is there to correct the blind ref; FIFA itself is recognised as an organization packed with cheats and chancers; match fixing and corruption is widespread throughout the football world. In this light, it's easy to see why players are willing to take a dive. Why shouldn't they throw themselves down and try for a bigger cut of the pie?
"There is a big disconnect between the game's governing bodies, the fans and the players," says Amarante. "It is as if they have hidden agendas. Fight the Flop wants to blow this up, we want to bring attention to diving, and shed a negative light on it. Fans are upset about it. We want to get fan backing for this and rally support from some folks higher up in football, who do respect the originality of the game, and force FIFA to do something about it."
But do fans want football to be sanitized? Cleanliness could rob the game of enduring grudges. If every player were a saint, then when would the fans get to whistle down the enemy? Trickery and deception exist naturally in parts of the soccer world, in South America it is accepted as the spirit of the game. The challenge for teams is to be smarter about cheating than your opponents. Amarante admits that these are issues fans “would have to debate, to decide what type of game we want.”
Fight The Flop is officially launching its campaign in early November. Those wishing to join the crusade to end diving can find them on Facebook.
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