Fining Floppers: FIFA Needs To Follow The NBA
Fining Floppers: FIFA Needs To Follow The NBA
Flops have no place in our game, they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call
– Stu Jackson, NBA VP Basketball Operations
As far as professional sports leagues go, the NBA (National Basketball Association) has oftentimes been held up as an overly punitive, egomaniacal commissioner-driven (read: ex NBA Commissioner David Stern) league that sometimes issues draconian penalties to its players. For example, when Stern implemented a league wide dress code in 2005-06, which banned players from “wearing headphones, chains, shorts, sleeveless shirts, indoor sunglasses, T-shirts, jerseys and headgear such as baseball caps during NBA-related public appearances”, we all collectively cringed and thought the guy was off his rocker. From a pure marketing perspective, the multi-billion dollar global NBA brand was arguably built on the fact that players wore sleeveless shirts, indoor sunglasses and a whole host of other hip hoppy gear that helped propel NBA merchandise sales to record profits. One needs look no further than retired NBA All-Star Allen Iverson. By 1999 when Iverson led the Philadelphia 76’ers to the playoffs, sales of his merchandise sky rocketed past everybody including the Los Angeles Lakers megastars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’ Neil. And a large part of his allure and NBA league revenue generating potential might arguably have been tied to him wearing multiple tattoos and braided cornrows in his hair while averaging a jaw dropping 30+ points a game five times over his illustrious 17 year career.
Fast forward to 2014, where FIFA 2014 World Cup fans are sadly having to endure a virtual Flop Fest unfold right before our very eyes. The pathetic art of flopping – falling down unnecessarily after experiencing little to no contact – which has been perfected in football, but has now infected sports like basketball and ice hockey, reared its ugly head dating back to the first game of the World Cup, when Brazil’s Fred initiated contact with Croatia’s Dejan Lovren and then got rewarded a penalty kick in the 69th minute of the game – which clearly changed the direction of a game tied 1-1. Seeing grown male football players writhe in apparent pain after barely getting challenged for the ball, or witnessing them flail their bodies wildly when they get slide tackled and there is minor contact, is beginning to make a growing list of hardcore footie fans begin to detest this particular aspect of the sport. It’s actually making “the beautiful game” look quite ugly.
Now, let’s juxtapose FIFA’s inaction in acknowledging or addressing Brazilian Fred’s flop foolery, with the NBA who handed Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade a $5000 flopping fine for feigning physical contact with the San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginobili – who was ironically rated as the league’s number two ranked flopper in a 2011 Sports Illustrated poll – in game two of a series they eventually lost to The San Antonio Spurs in five games. When the NBA adopted their anti-flopping rule in the 2012-13 season it kept notorious league floppers like Ginobli, Cleveland Cavaliers Anderson Varejao, Miami Heat’s Shane Battier or the Indiana Pacers Luis Scola in check.
So, here’s what FIFA needs to consider adopting, as a course of action to stem the tide of flopping and bring back some more dignity to the game. The NBA gives automatic fines and penalties to any player who is determined to have flopped, after a video review, and FIFA should follow suit in the 2014 World Cup, handing out immediate red cards coupled with fines, as a preventative measure to slow down this phenomenon. For example, Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the top five footballers in the world, but he also holds the distinction of being a world class flopper. By merely issuing a yellow card to those of the flopping persuasion like him, when a free kick doesn’t feel like ample punishment, would send the wrong message, and not communicate the severity of the crime. Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during a 2014 World Cup qualifying and/or playoff game should be subject to the following:
1st Flop Violation: Red card suspension from game with video review and $20,000 Euro’s player fine.
2nd Flop Violation: Red card suspension from game with video review and $50,000 Euro’s player fine.
3rd Flop Violation: Red card suspension from game, $200,000 Euro’s team fine, $75,000 Euro’s player fine.
If a player violates this new proposed anti-flopping rule four times or more, they should be subject to discipline that amounts to immediate removal from team. It’s now time for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to step up.