How to deal with Simulation - Play of the week 23

Image: Fifa Referee Alan Kelly

The Laws of the Game state that a player must be cautioned for ‘Unsporting Behavior’ if a player “attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation).”

In this week’s Play of the Week we are looking at three plays involving acts of simulation and embellishment. The first one is from Houston Dynamo versus San Jose Earthquakes.

When Dynamo’s Alberth Elis plays the ball past Earthquakes defender Andres Imperiale, he realizes he has a bad touch on the ball then initiates contact with Imperiale’s standing leg and falls rather dramatically.

Referee Ricardo Salazar reads and recognizes the actions of Elis and awards a free-kick to his opponents and correctly cautions him.

The second play is from the game between FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids. This is similar to the previous example, in the manner that Kellyn Acosta has a bad touch on the ball and his actions cover all the criteria listed above.

The only difference is that there is movement from Rapids defender Eric Miller’s leg, but no actual contact was made. There is a delayed reaction when Acosta makes his dramatic fall to the ground on realizing he has played the ball too far.

Referee Alan Kelly reads and recognizes the actions of Acosta and awards a free-kick to Rapids and correctly cautions him.

The third and final play is from Columbus Crew versus Chicago Fire. As Crew’s Justin Meram runs towards the ball — which again has similarities with the other two examples, as there is too much pace on the ball for him to have a realistic chance of catching it — he suddenly and dramatically falls to ground under little or no contact from Fire’s Dax McCarty.

Referee Armando Villarreal reads and recognizes that the actions of Meram, then affords him the dignity of getting to his feet and correctly cautions him.

It is important that referees are able to identify the difference between a genuine foul and simulation and to identify acts of simulation or embellishment intended to deceive the referee.