Why do soccer players fake injuries?

Anyone that has seen a soccer game in their life has immediately noticed that soccer players seem very dramatic and tend to excessively exaggerate normal fouls. The player flops (fake an injury or dive or simulate) on the ground and shouts for help – 5 minutes later they get back up and continue. There are many different reasons why this happens.

Reasons why soccer players fake injuries?

Here’s the list of 4 reasons why they fake injuries:

  1. To create a potential goal-scoring opportunity
  2. To waste time
  3. To attempt to regain possession of the ball
  4. To punish another player

To create a potential goal-scoring opportunity

The first and most basic reason for faking an injury is to create a goal-scoring chance for their team.

If the player is in possession of the ball near the opposition’s goal but cannot create an opportunity to take a shot at goal, they can pretend to be injured while an opportunity for a shot still exists.

The idea behind this is that the referee will believe the player has been fouled by an opponent and award a “damaged” player a set-piece near the opposition’s goal.

A set-piece near the opponent’s goal could lead to a chance at scoring. A free-kick or penalty gives a team a higher chance of scoring than the team would in open play.

To waste time

When a player wants to waste time, they may pretend that they are injured.

The clock in soccer doesn’t stop for any reason, even when there is no activity. If there is a delay or stoppage in play, the referee will add more time to the end of that half.

Nevertheless, extra time added to games often compensates for less than accurate stoppage times and soccer players are aware of this.

Often players try to fake injuries to stop the game for as long as possible.

Usually, a player simulates an injury when his team is in the lead. He or she knows that if they can hold out and stop the game then they will have a greater chance of preventing the other team from scoring.

To attempt to regain possession of the ball

The next reason a player may fake an injury is when they lose the ball and want to get it back.

You may sometimes see a player flop in the moments after they have been tackled. This happens when they are pressured by an opponent and lose possession of the ball.

Rather than let their opposition move away with the ball the player may decide to fake or simulate, an injury in the hope that this will result in a stoppage, and they will be given back their ball.

A good player wouldn’t be too reliant on flopping and would show hard work and persistence in getting the ball back.

To punish another player

The last reason a player may fake an injury is to get opponents punished.

Soccer is a really intense sport and it’s not uncommon for two players on opposing teams to try and make each other look like the bad guy. For example, they might overreact because the other player tackled them, and then try to get that player in trouble because of it.

One way to get an opponent punished for a foul is to use “simulating”. The player would fake injury when their opponent is close by and hope the referee believes the foul was committed.

Fake injuries are considered to be an unsportsmanlike or wildly unfair tactic. Trying to get a player punished for no reason is a really bad move.

Is simulating an offense in soccer?

It is, and it is even banned from the sport. If a referee thinks that you’re trying to cheat and fake an injury, they will punish you with a yellow card.

Being shown a yellow card is a strong warning. A player should know that if they attempt to trick the referee, they will likely get sent off the pitch with their team down to 10 players.

Despite the risk of punishment, they still try to fake injuries because they believe that the potential rewards outweigh the potential punishment.

The world’s leading football body, FIFA, has been encouraging the spirit of fair play by awarding players and teams that exhibit it – the FIFA Fair Play Award. This includes things like avoiding cheating to get an advantage during the game by simulating or other tactical fouls.

How can foul faking or simulation be prevented?

It is impossible that referees don’t commit mistakes. Players often use dishonest tactics during games and it gets the referees even harder to make the right decisions.

With VAR (Video Assistant Referee) now in soccer, fouls and cheating are as difficult as ever as it will automatically review all contested decisions on the field.

Referees used to be responsible only for the decisions they made during the heat of the game. They weren’t able to look back and check if their decision was correct just by watching a replay. In this context, it wouldn’t be useful to do a foul simulation because that way, the referee can go back and check if you were actually simulating.

VAR is only used in game situations like conflicted penalties and red cards. Players thinking about simulation will have to give it some extra thought for this to happen with VAR. Even if the referee awards a penalty, foul, or red card on the first review of the incident, they can change their decision on further review and instead give the simulator a yellow card.

Is women’s soccer less dramatic?

Sometimes soccer players faking injuries during the game. This happens in both men’s and women’s soccer, but, surprisingly, is especially common in men’s games. Women soccer players are less likely to make a big show of emotions on the field when they receive what seems like a tough foul. It may have something to do with the competitiveness of women. Women don’t always want to win by cheating or without really being the best – they actually care about weaknesses in their game and trying to improve themselves. Women are more prideful than men when competing against each other. They won’t want to appear weak if they’re kicked by another girl.

How to know if a player faking or not?

One last thing to be aware of is that sometimes the player is actually not faking, even if it looks like they are.

I know from personal experience that even the slightest touch from an opposing player can lead to big consequences when you’re on the soccer playing field at full speed. Apart from being a great reminder and reason to always wear appropriate protection such as shin guards, it’s a great warning not to always judge soccer players too harshly. Sometimes they actually get injured!

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