Why Do Soccer Players Fake Injuries?

Fans of soccer get to see a lot of happenings in the course of a game and occasionally some antics. Some players are often successful in pulling off these antics whilst some are caught and penalized. 

Regardless, some soccer players have attained a reputation for antics and one person we can refer to in this regard is Uruguay international Luis Suarez.

We’ve seen soccer games where players feign injuries after the slightest contact or pretend to be hurt after a confrontation with an opposing player. So the question here is; Why do soccer players fake injuries? Why do soccer players pretend to be hurt when they are not?

We’ll comprehensively answer this question in this article. Please read on to understand. The habit of faking injuries or simulation during games has been heavily criticized by professionals of the game and fans alike but continues to persist.

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in the past, we’ve seen players carve niches for themselves as being notorious for simulation, faking injuries, and also pulling them off successfully from time to time, making the referee receive the blame since he didn’t see the incident. 

The good development is that the recent introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has helped out in curbing the menace of simulation and faking injuries in soccer.

10 Most Unforgettable Dives In Soccer

10 Unforgettable DIVES in Football

What Is It Called When A Soccer Player Fakes An Injury?

This act can be referred to as a dive or flopping, the latter is the common usage for soccer fans in the United States. 

‘Meanwhile, due to the dramatic manner in which many players fall to the ground, it is known as ‘diving’ in Europe and the rest of the world. 

Why Do Soccer Players Fake Injuries?

It is a no-brainer that soccer players feign injuries to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. Unfortunately, faking injuries has become an accepted part of the game. 

Today’s players drop at the slightest contact, frequently adding dramatic flair to the situation by rolling around or crying out in pain and this can be very funny when you notice that it was just a slight contact that produced such a reaction.

Regardless, although faking injuries and simulation are unfair, and unsportsmanlike, to the opponent and in the sport, faking injury is a strategy. 

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In general, players who fall to the ground or pretend to be injured are attempting to deceive the referee into deciding in their favor. 

It could be to award a penalty or free kick to their advantage, dismiss an opponent, or even disallow a goal that has already been scored, amongst others. We’ve found 4 reasons why players fake injuries. See them below.

1. To Waste Time

Another negative aspect of soccer is time-wasting. If your team is holding a close lead, there are several tricky ways to take valuable seconds off the clock, especially when the game is stopped for a foul, goal kick, or throw-in. 

Although deliberate time-wasting is illegal and punishable by a yellow card, faking an injury may be difficult to detect, making it an effective tactic. 

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In soccer, referees are in charge of keeping track of game delays and adding extra time (known as additional time or injury time) to the end of both halves to compensate for stoppages. 

However, with so many other responsibilities, the referee may find it difficult to keep track of every stoppage. 

Players frequently fake injuries to slow down the game, waste time, and halt any momentum that their opponents may have when they are in the lead. 

This strategy is most common when the game is close to its end and they want to prevent the opposition from drawing level or scoring a winner.

1. To Prevent A Counterattack

When a team loses possession, it becomes vulnerable to a quick counterattack. A player may fall to the ground and pretend to be injured in a desperate attempt to halt play. 

A referee has the authority to stop play if a player is deemed to be seriously injured, regardless of whether the opposing team is in an advantageous position. 

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Serious injuries include head injuries, broken bones, loss of consciousness, severe wounds, and a heavy collision. Minor incidents such as regular contact, a rolled ankle, or muscle cramps may not be stopped by referees. 

Faking a serious injury puts pressure on the referee to call a timeout, even if they have doubts about the severity of the injury. 

We’ve seen some players pull this off and hamper the chances of the opposition in a game, Meanwhile, such calls only result in near-fisticuffs most of the time.

1. To Get An Opponent Dismissed From The Game

Certain fouls are punished with yellow and red cards. A yellow card serves as a warning, whereas a red card means the player has been permanently dismissed from the game and cannot be replaced by a substitute. 

To get an opponent yellow or red-carded, players will sometimes fake an injury. This type of injury faking is especially common after a player has already been booked. 

We’ve seen cases where the opposition in the game targets some aggressive players. 

The target would be riled up in the early minutes of the game to see if he would play into the trap and be yellow carded, If he succumbs, you’d see the opposition introducing a tricky player to confront the target as the game grows. 

Suppose the target loses his head and makes another rash tackle or becomes the victim of a carefully crafted simulation. In that case, he could receive his marching orders from the game to the detriment of his teammates.

Going to the ground after competing for a header is one of the most common ways modern players fake an injury. 

Too many times, we’ve seen players collapse to the ground, indicating to the referee that they’ve been elbowed, in an attempt to get their opponent yellow or red-carded. The introduction of VAR has curbed this menace in recent times.

1. To Be Awarded A Free Kick Or A Penalty

The goal of faking an injury is not to persuade other players and the officials that you are injured. 

Players fall to the ground at the slightest touch or challenge and pretend to be injured to fool the referee into thinking they were fouled. 

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Going down in the opponent’s penalty box opportunistically can result in a penalty being awarded to the attacking team, resulting in an easy scoring opportunity. 

Also, a free kick near the opposition’s penalty box can be an advantage if there is a skilled free-kick taker in the team.

For instance, in a team that has David Beckham or Juninho Pernambucano. If a player pretends to be injured or falls to the ground near the opposition penalty box, the aforementioned retired soccer players will convert such chances 90% of the time.

If a player realizes they are unlikely to score or take advantage of an attacking position, they may pretend to be injured to earn a free kick in a promising position as explained above. 

What Is The Penalty For Faking Injuries?

A yellow card is issued to a player who is found to be faking an injury or attempting to deceive the referee. Simulation is considered unsporting behavior under IFAB Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct. 

Regardless, many fans believe that this punishment is insufficient and that players should receive red cards for diving. This comes as no surprise due to the magnitude of the unfair advantage that could be gained. 

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We’ve seen teams come out of games with maximum points due to carefully worked out dive to simulation that triggered a decision to favor them. 

Is It Always Bad To Fake An Injury?

Cheating on purpose in sports is always frowned upon. Diving to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent is not permitted in soccer. 

However, it has become widely accepted that if a player is fouled, he or she has the right to “go down” or exaggerate contact in order to earn a free kick or penalty. 

For example, if a striker feels a push in the back in the penalty box, they will usually fall to the ground to indicate that they have been fouled. 

Even in incidents where the player refuses to go down in the penalty box and eventually loses the chance, fans become angry that he did not go down to win his side a penalty.

Exaggerating contact to win a foul isn’t technically simulation or faking an injury, but it isn’t entirely honest. 

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Can you blame a player for making sure fouls are called, given the speed of the professional game and the difficulty referees have in keeping up with all actions? 

If a player does everything possible to stay on their feet when tackled, there is a good chance that referees will miss some fouls, putting the honest player at a disadvantage as explained earlier.

When it comes to the level of contact that warrants a foul, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred. VAR, on the other hand, assists referees in detecting missed fouls and overturning incorrect decisions after the fact. 

Most Funny Dives In Soccer

Over the years, instant replay has provided us with some extremely fun dives. 

Although, no soccer fan wants to see their team lose because of a cheat, watching players embarrass themselves by flopping can be entertaining. See this video below:

Most Funny and Stupid Dives in Football ????‍♀


We guess that your question; Why do soccer players fake injuries has been answered in this article? We’ve outlined major reasons why players embrace the act and how it could be detrimental to the sportsmanship of the game. 

The introduction of VAR has really helped in curbing some of the menace and unfair advantages of diving and simulation in the game. We’ve seen massive improvements in the Premier League, Serie A, MLS, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1, amongst others.