Former Premier League Referee, Mark Halsey, joined in the debate surrounding diving and told Leisure Leagues: “you can’t blame the players.”
The Premier League game between Chelsea and Leeds at the weekend saw a controversial moment when – with the score at 2-1 – Leeds substitute Ian Poveda appeared to be fouled by Chelsea’s England star, Ben Chilwell, but did not go to ground. A penalty was not given and, to further rub salt into Leeds wounds, Christian Pulisic added a third in injury time to condemn Bielsa’s men to defeat.
Halsey reckoned that the player’s honesty did him no favours, telling us exclusively: “No Referee would have given a penalty with the Poveda incident rightly or wrongly it becomes a credibility issue, had he gone to ground under the challenge then the referee would have had a decision to make.”
Indeed Halsey, a veteran of 14 seasons in the Premier League, is in no doubt that if the player had made the most of the contact, a spot kick would have been awarded: “In my opinion, I am sure a penalty would have been given,” he told us.
The Manchester based official, who refereed in the FA Cup final before he retired from the Premier League in 2013, further cast doubt on this stance and wondered if it might be encouraging so called “simulation”.
“I would say that it does make players go down easier under the slightest contact and to be honest you can’t blame them.”
In the wake of the incident, pundits were split, with Leisure Leagues Ambassador, Michael Owen saying: “He’s a very honest player. The manager in the dressing room would be thinking. ’I have just watched Mo Salah, I have watched people like Grealish, Danny Welbeck last week. I have watched all these players, Sterling today, they have got half the touch you [Poveda] have got’. “That is as much if not more than I have seen in the past couple of weeks times five.
“Honesty gets you nowhere and it cannot be like that. I admire the lad for staying on his feet and I think he should stay on his feet. And I don’t think you should be given a penalty for that.
“I do think we need to get rid of this tiny little touch and someone going down. Every single week – We need to rid ourselves of this.”
His former Liverpool colleague, Danny Murphy, though, saw it differently, reasoning: “Some people would say he’s stupid. He’s cost his team a point as he knows he could go down and it would be a penalty at the moment with the rules being what they are.”
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