Players faking injury – it’s the curse of soccer. Sadly, we see it at every level, even at the World Cup. A player goes down, grabs his leg, and wails at the sky. The ref checks on the player. Time drifts by. Finally, the player gets up and fake-hobbles to the sideline. Play resumes and the ref waves the player back on. The player pretends to limp for a few strides, and then bursts into a full sprint.
Think about ice hockey. How would fans react if a player, upon taking a tap to his shins, falls to the ice, grabs his leg, and rolls over three or four times? This behavior is not tolerated in any other major sport, so why do we put up with it in soccer?
Anyone who plays competitive soccer knows that after you take a knock, you’re either hurt, or not. There really is no in-between. So, here’s one way to end the charade: enact a fifteen-seconds/two-minute rule. Any player who goes down has 15 seconds to get up and play. The ref starts his clock as soon as he arrives on the scene. He counts down the last five seconds out loud, so the player can hear him. If the player is not on his feet at “zero,” he must leave the pitch. When play resumes, the assistant ref starts a two-minute clock. When the two minutes is up, the AR lets the player back onto the field. Sure, players and managers will howl the first few times the rule is used. But it will catch on fast, and no longer will we have to endure the petty theatrics that so cheapen the game. Let me know if you see a downside to this approach.