Why (Non-American) Men Cheat at Soccer

Like many of you, Off The Post has been thoroughly enjoying the Women’s World Cup in Canada, and is looking forward to an intriguing set of quarterfinal match-ups, beginning Friday.

As we’re in the middle of a two-day pause, it makes sense that pubs like USA Today and The New York Daily News are trying to keep the World Cup top-of-mind with thought-provoking pieces like “Why Women Don’t Cheat at Soccer” and “U.S. Women’s Team in Need of Ethnic, Racial Diversity.”

While the latter brings up a good point about soccer in the U.S. remaining a largely white, middle-class sport, the former observes that in the professional game, women don’t try to con the referee as much as men do.

Conning the referee by faking a foul or an injury is largely frowned upon in American sports, as the ethics of working hard, always doing your best and competing in an honest way are championed over ends-justifies-the-means behavior. In Europe, they call diving or feigning injury “simulation.” In the U.S., we call it “cheating.”

And while OTP is proud to say he seldom sees anyone representing the USA men resort to this kind of behavior, it is an undeniable problem in just about every major continental tournament or European league in men’s soccer. But, as USA Today’s Martin Rogers notes, “simulation” (we’ll use the softer European term) is largely absent in the women’s game.

But why?

Rogers asked this very question to U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath. Her reply: "Maybe women are less dramatic than men. People always say about women's football that they don't dive as much. I don't really know why it is different in the men's game. We have this authentic feel to the sport, because you don't see that and it is a lot less questionable for the referee when you see a tackle. I am proud the sport gives off that because [simulation] can be an annoyance to fans and teams as well."

Adds USA head coach Jill Ellis: "We just like to stay on our feet. You do see [simulation] at times, but it's not prevalent. It is done in the men's game to manipulate and gain an advantage, and we are more about trying to do that in the flow of the game and less in the simulation."

Did anyone here read Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus?

Neither did OTP. And OTP is not a specialist in psychology either, although he does enjoy old episodes of “Frasier.”

That being said, though the rules remain the same, men and women produce different on-field products not only because men and women are physically different, they are also mentally different.

As someone who watches a lot of soccer, the win-at-any-cost mentality -- particularly in the heat of competition -- is much more prevalent in men than women. That’s not to say that all men are predisposed to cheating in sports, but they certainly do get caught trying to do so more often than women.

You might be wondering why, as we noted earlier, the USA men don’t cheat as often as their South American and European counterparts do: OTP would argue that this is because, as a society, Americans have a deep respect for the law. We are all naturalized to believe that laws are good and help foster an equal playing field from which everyone can prosper. 

The world was shocked last summer when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit the shoulder of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the men’s World Cup in Brazil.

Can you imagine a female soccer player doing the same thing?

44 comments about "Why (Non-American) Men Cheat at Soccer".
  1. Kenneth Barr, June 24, 2015 at 7:04 p.m.

    The men's game is older and a bit more cynical than the women's. Give it time and a few more high profile injuries that can be blamed on poor refereeing decisions and flopping will begin to appear. Flopping began in the men's game due to referees ignoring fouls. Give it time, the officiating will cause it to happen in the women's game as well.

  2. Glenn Maddock, June 24, 2015 at 7:23 p.m.

    The simple answer is the women's game is not as fast or physical as the men's game. When guys are crashing into each other at high speeds, you have more fouls, and more need to get foul calls, that some refs miss.

    It's a rare event when the ladies crash into each other in a violent way. The Ladies are not begging the refs to make a call, so there is little incentive for flopping.

    It is poor sportsmanship and with replay now, floppers should be fined after the game.

  3. Gregory Pappas, June 24, 2015 at 7:32 p.m.

    I don't know where to start. I agree with Kenneth Barr's comment above. But I think the article, however light-hearted the intent may (or may not) have been, is off the mark. First, did anyone see the Brazil-Australia match? Plenty of simulation there. I also think it's a little holier-than-thou to say "we Americans don't cheat, because we respect the law and integrity and hard work..." Surely there are other countries that are law-abiding folks. Faking a foul is frowned upon in the US? There's plenty of simulation in the NBA, for the same reason it exists in soccer. I also don't think simulation is "cheating" per se, but it is poor sportsmanship. The only thing I agree with is that flagrant simulation (where nothing even close to a foul occurs) is prevalent and bad for the game, and that it occurs more often (but not exclusively) in the men's game.

  4. Margaret Manning, June 24, 2015 at 7:40 p.m.

    USWNT doesn't "need" ethic or racial diversity; it needs a coherent attacking offense.

    As for women not cheating, take a look at the diving in the Colombia games. Especially the woman who went down on no touch whatsoever but pantomimed that she had a tooth injured (suggesting an elbow in the mouth or such).

  5. James e Chandler, June 24, 2015 at 7:40 p.m.

    What does faster, more physical, older have to do with deliberate violation of the rules that translates to a basic lack of respect for the game?
    Oh, by the way article author. Simulation, and embellishment is not just frowned upon, but is clearly defined as misconduct, and a player that employs the tactic (in the opinion of the referee of course) must be cautioned.
    And one more aside, some American women/girls do take dives.

  6. Margaret Manning, June 24, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.


  7. Ric Fonseca, June 24, 2015 at 8:53 p.m.

    Margaret, gracias for your keen comment, though you must agree that it is a nice eye-catching and even possibly "controversial" phrase put forth by OTP author/editors!And it IS interesting that other than you, not one of the other comments even mentioned the topic. Hmmm, wonder why?

  8. Albert Harris, June 24, 2015 at 8:56 p.m.

    I think Glenn made a good point. Higher speeds explain a lot including what looks like "just a touch" bringing down a player at top speed. As far as the USA being more "law abiding"; oh please. Some of the most outrageous dives I've ever seen have come from USA forwards including Saint Dempsey and dating all the way back to Wynalda. I understand a striker's frustration; referees always favor the defensive player and if a forward doesn't go down, they don't get the call. It will come to the woman's game over time too, sadly. If an offensive player felt he would get a call if he was just impeded without falling down, he wouldn't go to ground. There will always be players trying to gain an unfair advantage, but in my opinion, it's far more often the defender than the attacker.

  9. Raymond Weigand, June 24, 2015 at 8:57 p.m.

    "Maybe women are less dramatic than men." hahahha ...that Tobin Heath is a comic genius!

  10. Raymond Weigand, June 24, 2015 at 9:06 p.m.

    Ric: I believe the diversity of the American team is how many different decades the players were born in. (hah) I wonder if the diversity argument will catch up with the Mexico National Team - which is HQ'd in San Diego and fields a young squad of many dual citizenship - college players from the USA - who presumably didn't want to wait forever to play for the current USA team.

  11. Lou vulovich, June 24, 2015 at 9:09 p.m.

    The writer is young and probably does not know
    who Tanya Harding is or Mark Maguire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez. Super Bowl Air Gate.
    Anyway Americans are more honorable in sports
    then most, so are Germans, British etc.
    Woman soccer players are less likely to flop
    or dive, they are also more likely to get injured
    seriously and are less likely to to do off the ball
    rough antics then men.( with the exception of that college player who ripped her opponents hair out
    of her head). What should the racial quota be
    for US WNT. 20% Asian 25% Latin 35%African American and the rest. ??? Wow.
    Great Point K Barr

  12. Aaron McDonald, June 24, 2015 at 9:45 p.m.

    Okay, 1st: I too am a bit of a "Frasier" fan. 2nd: Yes, Suarez nibbling on another player was a bit shocking, but I seem to remember a certain Lady straight up decking Abby in the eye hole not so long ago. So it can and does happen on the women's side. 3rd: Exactly how well is Mexico doing in the WC?

  13. Santiago 1314, June 24, 2015 at 10:24 p.m.

    OMG !!! @ Raymond,... My Cerveza just came out my Nose, I was Laughing soooo hard,... LMFAO...Thanks for that one...

  14. Santiago 1314, June 24, 2015 at 10:42 p.m.

    US Players don't FLOP, Because they are Not Taught, When and Where to Flop...Foreign Kids Pick it up from TV and Practice it on the Streets and Pitches ALL OVER THE WORLD...But it will become more Prevalent as the TV Exposure increases...Monkey see, Monkey do...

  15. Santiago 1314, June 24, 2015 at 10:45 p.m.

    Oh, and We Self-Righteous Americans DON'T CHEAT,,, Right Lance Armstrong!?!?..Mike Tyson...and Tiger "The Cheetah" Woods...Oh, that was a Completely Different kind of Sport..

  16. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, June 24, 2015 at 10:55 p.m.

    Perhaps the Cafu School of Football Acting doesn't accept female students.

  17. Santiago 1314, June 24, 2015 at 11 p.m.

    Re-Post from other Thread...Santiago 1314 commented on: June 24, 2015 at 2:52 p.m...Every Sport and Every Coach/Athlete is Trying to Either Bend or Break the "LAWS" Of their game... That's why we have Refs and Discipline Committee's...To Catch the Transgresors, but to tie your "Hands" behind your back and "PLAY NICE" is UnRealistic...I'd be in favor of a TV Super Slow Mo Committee, That during the Game, Could Call down to the Ref, and Put Transgressors in the "Penalty Box" for 2 Minutes..

  18. Santiago 1314, June 24, 2015 at 11:02 p.m.

    Clear Cut Situations, like what Margaret mentioned...Player gets contact on the Shoulder and Grabs Mouth or Knee...Get those players off the Field and the Rest will Learn...

  19. Chris Wirth, June 24, 2015 at 11:26 p.m.

    Simple answer: The stakes aren't high enough yet.

    That's it. We Americans can congratulate ourselves all we want over what we like to think is our love of law and order, but it doesn't make it true.

    We don't know who coined the phrase "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'", but it's been applied plenty of times by Americans to other Americans, so let's get off our high horse, shall we?

  20. David Mont, June 25, 2015 at 8:31 a.m.

    "U.S. Women’s Team in Need of Ethnic, Racial Diversity.” What a sad world we're living when such an idiotic headline can appear, and (almost) everyone is afraid to point out its idiocy.

  21. David Mont, June 25, 2015 at 8:32 a.m.

    To Santiago 1314: just curious, are you a real person or a somewhat clever computer program?

  22. Soccer Madness, June 25, 2015 at 10:52 a.m.

    Americans cheat as much or even more than anybody. Just because they do it in different ways doesnt make it less dispacable. As far as flopping, dont you think that maybe just maybe USA doesnt do it as much just because they havent caught up with the rest? They certainly show they dont have the savinnes overall. Also could be because most Americans are too busy being taught to hit. Therefore no time to flop. These articles get funnier and funnier.

  23. Robert Heinrich, June 25, 2015 at 11:36 a.m.

    I agree that simulation has become a tactical tool. The speed of the game, the often impaired viewing angle of referees, and the requirement to make a quick judgment makes it possible to gain an advantage over your opponent. It often takes slow motion review to see the fake. Post-game review and punishment for egregious simulation would make it less likely, though I understand that's difficult to define from one instance to another. It is one of the things about Lionel Messi that I, and many of you, admire: he rarely goes down easily, probably because his control is so high that it's more likely a goal will result from his continued forward movement than from winning a foul. It's also one of the things I like least about Ronaldo.

  24. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 11:43 a.m.

    @ David,... I am Real Flesh and Blood... Bleed RED, WHITE and BLUE...But my Boss is Out of the Country, so I can Type like Crazy on my Smarter Than Me Cell Phone...jajaja..

  25. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 11:53 a.m.

    I like a Good Flop, it's part of Futbol...Done Many Good ones in my Career...When you see Butchers and Instigators like Chile v Uruguay... You really can't Blame a Forwad for Trying to get an Advantage/Pay Back

  26. Marco Polo, June 25, 2015 at noon

    To Santiago 1314: rather than flood every OTP article with random thoughts, perhaps you could use that time to learn basic grammar and syntax rules? Your posts are as annoying as they are difficult to read. You should be banned from posting just for your use of the upper case.

  27. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 12:32 p.m.

    @ Marco,... Hey, It's a FREE Country...Why you want to BAN Thought.???..Just cause my Finger is too Twitchy???...Eyes Gotta Degrees somewhere Massa...

  28. Will G, June 25, 2015 at 1:39 p.m.

    Really confusing article to me. All over the board and really difficult to follow.

    In truth, there is just as much diving in the womens game than the mens game. Columbia's antics were despicable the other night. I agree that the US players don't get too wrapped up in simulation, but I think the same goes for European players.

    Simulation and rolling around on the ground is a South American/Latin thing that was brought to Europe by South American and Latin players...simple as.

  29. Marco Polo, June 25, 2015 at 2:37 p.m.

    @ Santiago 1314: Not thought (even though yours contributes very little if anything to any of the discussions), but your appalling and annoying inability to construct a sentence using basic grammar rules, and using the upper case for just about every word. Make an effort son, or stop trolling.

  30. Soccer Madness, June 25, 2015 at 2:42 p.m.

    MARCO, I happen to like his posts. Is this grammar school? Just because you disagree with his opinions, you critisizing his grammar? Come on dude, grow up.

  31. Soccer Madness, June 25, 2015 at 2:43 p.m.

    Will, Its a South Anerican thing? How about also stating that its a South American thing to make soccer watchable in Europe and everywhere else in the world??

  32. Soccer Madness, June 25, 2015 at 2:46 p.m.

    Doing this is muvh easier than flopping!!

  33. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 3:56 p.m.

    Marco???...Polo!!!....Marco???...Polo!!! ...MARCO???...POLO!!! ... FISH OUTTA WATER !!! Tag your it.... So, do you have anything to add to the Soccer Discussion...or does your Anal Retentive Compulsion, Preclude you from seeing past my Grammah and SinTax... Damn, maybe it's the Auto Spell Checker on this NOT so SMART PHONE. ..Toma Ya !!!

  34. Aris Protopapadakis, June 25, 2015 at 4:08 p.m.

    Money!!! If women's soccer ever stars paying a lot of money, you'll see all the same stuff as in men's soccer. At one time soccer was a gentlemen's game. Remember???

  35. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 4:09 p.m.

    @Soccer Madness,...Thanks, ...p.s. You misspelled "much" "muvh" in your last post... MARxist Polo will be looking to BAN You next !!!

  36. Soccer Madness, June 25, 2015 at 4:33 p.m.

    Only god and Donald Trump can help us now

  37. Santiago 1314, June 25, 2015 at 5:45 p.m.


  38. Kent James, June 28, 2015 at 9:25 a.m.

    Will G, you're right. Not a coherent article (but it does serve the purpose of provoking controversy). Women don't cheat because they're not competitive enough? Americans don't cheat because they respect law and order more than anyone else? Really?? Please. As a college ref for many years, I enjoyed reffing Div I women the most, because they WANTED TO PLAY THE GAME. Fouls that were committed were almost always mistakes. The men's game on the other hand, at any level, could get out of hand at any time, because psychologically, men were affronted by anything they thought challenged their manhood. There were always a few players whose machismo was so fragile that they had to respond to any potential challenge with violence. The difference stems from a distorted view of masculinity, not naivete on the female side.

  39. Kent James, June 28, 2015 at 9:27 a.m.

    Also, please don't confuse a willingness to cheat to win as being ultra-competitive. Winning by cheating negates the meaning of the victory. True competitors want to win on a level playing field, not be awarded a victory they don't deserve.

  40. Kent James, June 28, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

    Finally, the men's game is faster and more physical, which does make it harder to get the fouls right. But that is a different animal than cheating. There will be more missed calls on men's games (because there are more potential times to foul, and the speed makes them harder to see), but simulation requires a conscious effort to cheat (unless a player has done it so often they no longer even think about it).

  41. Santiago 1314, June 28, 2015 at 5:17 p.m.

    @Kent,... You brought up an interesting thing...What if Simulation becomes so instinctive, that You don't even Think about doing it. .."Simulation" becomes just another form of Self-Presevation/Protection/Defense...

  42. Santiago 1314, June 28, 2015 at 5:33 p.m.

    Many times while I was playing, It became Instinctive to know when the Defender was coming In with an intent to do harm...So you learn to lift Your body off the Grass to lessen the impact...Now, it is true that i might have thrown in an Additional few Rolls and Blood Curdling Screams, Just to make sure the REF was paying attention. ..nudge, nudge, wink, wink. .

  43. Santiago 1314, June 28, 2015 at 7:02 p.m.

    One of the Best ways I heard it Described is; "If the BUTCHER Cuts the Meat WRONG, You have every right to Throw It In His FACE". Sounds Better in Spanish, But you get the idea.

  44. Santiago 1314, June 30, 2015 at 11:37 a.m.

    I'll have to get back to you on the Tactical way to beat the Panzerinas... I'm still too Wound Up !!!

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