Gareth Bale: To dive or not to dive? That is the question!

It may only be pre-season, but one of football’s greatest modern-day debates is rumbling on and it’s not even on this side of the Atlantic. A lot has been made of Charlie Adam’s tackle on Gareth Bale after the Scottish international allegedly slayed the Welshman to within an inch of his ankle ligaments as Spurs and Liverpool clashed on pre-season tour in America.

After big reactions from both Bale and new manager AVB about the reckless/unsportsmanlike nature of Adam’s tackle, the challenge has been subject to a lot of debate from football fans and pundits everywhere. Some say it wasn’t even that bad and is just part of the game and Bale should just get on with it. Whilst others say it was way over the top, especially in a pre-season friendly as it could have easily caused a serious injury

There has been no love lost between these two in the past, Adam has a long standing relationship with Gareth Bale’s left ankle. After the tough tackling midfielder put Bale out for 3 months with a stamping challenge whilst he was at Blackpool – you can see why Bale’s reaction maybe was a bit over the top. The media of course lapped this up, making as much news and reaction from it as possible and that is their prerogative, but it took the focus away from one of the major points that this incident throws up – whether diving can be necessary.

I am not concerned whether the most recent tackle was harsh or not – that has been done to death as the story rumbles on in the newspapers full of Bale’s comments and Adam’s lack of an apology. But Bale is one of a handful of world footballing stars who have been previously criticized for diving, a trait that he has himself admitted:

“When you have got people flying in at you all the time, it’s not really diving, you’re just trying to get out of the way of the challenges. If you stand there you’re going to get a whack. At the end of the day I would rather dive than get hurt.”

This latest incident is a perfect example of why diving DOES have a place in modern day football. What would you do if you knew a player was coming in from behind or flying in from the side? Would you stand and ride the challenge with a risk of being injured or would you “dive” out of the way and escape with your ankle/knee intact? Would you pre-empt a challenge and dive if a player who has previously caused you injury was flying in at you?

These horror challenges are becoming more and more apparent as players continue to be quicker, as does the game, and some players just cannot cope with players who have the speed, change of pace and dribbling ability of players such as Ronaldo, Messi and Bale as they move up through the gears.

Midfield enforcers in the mold of Roy Keane, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Rino Gattuso and Mark van Bommel may be a dying breed, but they were master craftsmen when it came to tackling and the odd calculated foul. But the game has changed and is more focused on quick, short passing with athletes who can physically dominate matches with their pace and power – in the case of players with limited physical attributes the mentality now is 100% you are going to get the ball or your taking the man with little regard for the consequences of the opponent, as long as it breaks up the play, because at the end of the day it is results that matter.

So is Gareth Bale justified in saying “I would rather dive than be hurt”? For me, he is starting to when you see the likes of limited players (without the ball) like Charlie Adam dishing out whatever they can to stop an oppositions threat.

I dislike diving to win a penalty or make something look worse than it is and I do not want to rid the game of contact or good solid challenges and the physical side, but players who are not quick enough or thoughtful enough are breeding a justification for a new diving/avoidance culture.

As a fan I want to see the best players playing week-in-week-out and more selfishly I want to see those players plying their trade in England. If players have to dive to avoid challenges or injury then I am all for it and I am not surprised players feel they need to do it to prolong their careers. Bale may have overreacted to Adam’s tackle, but the point needed to be made, it is just a pity the real issues were overshadowed.

It is still early days in this being accepted and ‘to dive or not to dive?’ is still very much the question.

Do you think diving should be acceptable in football if it is to avoid injury or bad tackles? Should players be punished for it in the same way someone dives to win a penalty or get someone sent off? We want you opinion so leave it below or for some live debate on the subject you can find us on Twitter and Facebook, so get involved. 

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  1. dood says:

    I think most viewers know the difference between a dive to con the ref and jumping out of the way of a tackle. Bale’s antics usually fall into the former category.

  2. Benny B says:

    dood,what has the Adam tackle got to do with diving,when 23 I had a similar “ankle tackle” which you might of found funny,it not only finished sports of any kind,but it also finished my prospects of ever working again,still think it’s “antics” ?

  3. Zahir says:

    Adam is just a bad tackler, like Scholls. Bale may be right in jumping out of the way but to roll around then to con the ref is plain cheating. Bale does it more frequently than most others. He and his manager knew it was not serious and he played another 30 minutes after the tackle. He has also managed to distract the debate about refusing to be part of team GB but playing normally for Spurs.

    • Dick head says:

      Get your facts right, it was team GB that decided not to risk him in their squad due to the nature of the injury. Bale did not pull out of the squad

    • tottspur says:

      bale just has to much pace,thats why players foul him, to say he does it more frequently than others is crap, ashley young is the worst diver in the premiership you fool

  4. Mikee says:

    This was a tackle from behind which I thought had been outlawed. Liverpool need to do something about his horrendously mistimed tackles or they will spend a great deal of next season playing with 10 men.

    • Catcher says:

      More to the point he will finish some ones career, his tackling is reckless, Adams is a substandard player all he can do is hit a ball, how on earth Arry was considering him for Spurs is frightening

  5. JayMon says:

    dood, that’s a bold statement to make without any evidence other than the dives that have been made public knowledge with cameras and footage.

    In the first season Bale started playing for Spurs he had ligament damage in his ankle due to a tackle from Muamba. That was in December and he ended up missing the rest of the season because of it. A year or so later he then had to have knee surgery because of another tackle that injured him. Then last year he had his ligaments torn by Charlie Adam which kept him out for 3 months. Nearly all of the injuries he has had have been inflicted by other players on the pitch. Are you honestly surprised that he now attempts to save himself by going down? If you jump it means your feet aren’t planted in the ground so serious damage can’t really be done.

    I have a problem with blatant dives as much as the next man, but compared to the amount of tackle hurdling he has to do for self preservation the amount of blatant dives are minimal. I’d like him to cut it out but frankly I’d rather that his knees and ankles stay intact.

    But its the easy option to just call someone a diver without actually basing it on anything other than what you see in the media.

  6. Nye says:

    Yeah its a bad tackle, but there’s no need for Bale to carry on like a child, its not even his ankle that takes the hit, its on the top of his foot.

  7. JayMon says:

    Zahir, does he really do it more than anyone else? Do you know what constitutes a dive? Watch Ashley Cole anytime there is a player running behind him. He will stop running which then forces contact so he can go down. Ashley Young kicks out a foot to force contact to justify going down. Frank Lampard drops to his knees if he can’t make the ball to make it look like he isn’t diving. Suarez is constantly diving a rolling around. Just because one looks more dramatic than another, that doesn’t make it more of a dive. It is everywhere in football. Pointing the finger at Bale like he is the root of the problem is just lazy.

  8. Beardo says:

    Zahir, what debate?…oh you mean the tabloid getting the knickers in a twist about nothing.

    Bale didn’t refuse to play in the Olympics, he was told by the medical team of Team GB that he was not fit enough to play when the squad was selected. However, he recovered quicker than expected, but by this time the Olympics was already upon us. Do you think as soon as he recovered from injury that he should have called the Team GB big wigs and said, kick one of the team you picked out of the squad and give me my place back. Oh and i’m not quite 100% but you should risk me.

    Of course not so why make suck a daft ill-informed comment!

  9. Will says:

    Unfortunately you lot have limited experience of watching fast dribbling wingers as they arer very few as a rule. In the past they were common butt hey used to have a short life expectancy as a fast dribbler as many received fractured fibulas or ankles and that certainly cuts down your dribbling speed.A very fast dribbler often gets caught by the block, or the ankle tap or even more “zealous” “tackles” which have no chance of getting the ball. We often hear the rubbish about football being a “contact” sport but it really isn’t meant to be as tackles are meant to get the ball as is heading. Perhpas shoving someone off the ball is as close as you get to contact but colliding while heading is about the only legal contact and even that assumes that elbows are down.

    The point with fast dribblers goes back to the 50s and 60s. THFC had a winger called Cliff Jones who never could be accused of diving but he earned numerous penalties by being hit (and not the ball) as he dribbled into the penalty area. I have watched Bale for years and I can only remember ONE incident when diving was a possible. The time that he was booked for diving was a travesty as he had been chopped hown 3x already in that game for not even a yellow. All of you smart alecs who know more than everyone just try dribbling at highspeed past someone determined to stop you and see how much you “dive”. Most of teh time if you escape a lower leg injury you have done well. Just occasionally someone goes down and the tackler did get the ball but not that often and most cases are only certain in the legality of the tackle after the numerous reruns of the incident.
    High speed dribbling is poetry in motion but chopping all too often removes it from the game totally.

  10. cj1 says:

    Lets face it Bale was too quick for Adam, it was a foul, a bad callous and cowardly one from a player who is not good enough for the premiership let alone a club of Liverpoos stature!! Bale does have a tendancy to overact, but he’s hardly the worst culprit out there now is he??? Seems his tendency to playact/dive is the only thing people have on him, cos the fact is, he is a class act unlike the classless Adam!! :-)

  11. Joey says:

    Bale does get fouled a lot, but he dives a lot too. And every challenge that comes in he rolls around the floor as if he’s been shot. He’s the worst since the early days of Ronaldo and Drogba. And he always get carried off as if he’ll be out for weeks, but always plays the next game. He’s a cheat. And ridiculously overrated too.

  12. James says:

    Bale a diver? not as bad as his team mate Walker the guy is a joke never seen someone go to ground so often. He often jumps over a tackle and hits the deck for a free kick. I could maybe see you point about avoiding the challenge but not when it’s blatantly to win the favour of the referee not to avoid contact or injury.

  13. KickOff says:

    I think the most recent one was meant to be a simple trip / reducer that went slightly wrong. I dont think there was malice in it, it was clumsy. Stepped on the ankle rather than just hooking it. The Blackpool one was nasty.

    As far as Bale, diving for avoidance is all well and good. The problem with that theory is that he seems to be “avoiding” a lot in and around the penalty area nowadays. Mostly for challenges that don’t seem to have an injury risk attached to them.

    I’d be nice for players / managers from all teams to condemn their own kind for diving. Never going to happen but it’d still be nice.

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