Leeds United v Brentford penalty debate: Two views on the scourge of the beautiful game

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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Diving, or simulation as it is often referred to, is fast becoming more prevalent in football.

Only last week, Leeds United’s draw with Brentford was marred by the controversial awarding of a penalty for United’s opponents.

Here, we get two views on the contentious issue:

VIEW 1: Mark Haywood, former professional referee

Mark Haywood was the man in the middle for more than 300 matches in the English Football League.

Now a Referee Development Officer with the West Riding FA, Mark believes the higher the level the more diving becomes an issue.

“At county level I wouldn’t say that it’s a big issue,” he said. “It’s not usually something that you see.

“When you go up the leagues though, and especially in the Premier League, then it is becoming more common. The problem is that the Premier League is played at such pace.

“I think the influx of foreign players has altered it and brought it in more - it is in the culture of some to play this way.

“In League One and League Two I don’t think it happens as much.

“If you caution someone for simulation then you are effectively calling them a 
cheat.

“It’s very, very difficult.

“You have got to be 100 per cent sure that they did simulate contact.

“In 15 years as a professional referee I probably came across ten cases of simulation.

“It is a subject that creates great conversation.

“But until you have stood there and are in the position of a referee with just one view, then it’s very hard.

“The VAR (Video assistant referee) system may help in the future but who knows?”

VIEW 2: Robert Endeacott, Leeds United Supporters’ Trust vice-chairman

He believes the decision to award Brentford a penalty last week during the 1-1 draw was the wrong one.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins was deemed to have been brought down by home goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

But Endeacott and United stopper Pontus Jansson, who gave a controversial post-match interview, were among those who disagreed with the decision insisting that Watkins had simulated.

“Diving is an unfortunate and unwanted part of the game nowadays,” said Robert.

“It’s basically just cheating.

“No right-minded football fan wants to see cheating go on and so I can completely understand Pontus Jansson’s comments about what went on.

“Obviously, he as a professional and should know better. But it’s infuriating for players and even more infuriating for the supporters who are watching.

“I don’t think the referee had a good enough view of it so I think he genuinely thought that it was a penalty from where he was stood.

“From any other angle, you could tell that the player took a dive.

“But what was given, was given and we can’t change that.

“VAR might help in such circumstances but I’m not sure.”