Dive or Not: Martin Atkinson and Ashley Young

Ashley Young is the new Gareth Bale.

And I don’t mean that in a good way.

You see, the last year Gaz played for Tottenham, he was yellow carded for diving so many times it became a joke between my friends and I (all Spurs fans). Every time one of us – usually me – would trip on the sidewalk or get run over by some joker walking and texting, the others would intone:

“Yellow card, Gareth Bale.”

And now the joke’s on Ashley Young.

The Manchester United winger clearly tried to win the penalty today against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, and referee Martin Atkinson was clearly having none of it. Not only did he not give Young the penalty, he booked him for simulation.

But how much of that was because of Young’s (well-earned, sadly) reputation as a diver?

If you review the video replay (which I hope stays available), there doesn’t appear to be much contact, Young’s dive was theatrical and the Sunderland player was trying to stop. So, that definitely puts him into simulation territory.

On the other hand, Young was traveling ridiculously fast and there is contact, and while his fall is somewhat dramatic, we’ve certainly seen worse from him.

This is a 50-50 call, and you can understand why Atkinson gave it. But I do think he could have just chosen not to give the penalty.

And I think he was absolutely sending a message.

Young has made himself a villain countless times with his diving, even causing controversy in last year’s Champions League, when he was widely viewed as having conned World Cup final referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy into giving an undeserved penalty.

So, I do believe his reputation played into what we saw today, and Atkinson was making it clear that the referees would be watching Young.

Unfortunately, when they did the same thing to Bale, it was often unfair. True, Gaz had a tendency to go down easily, but we also saw at least two instances where he was yellow carded for what were clearly hard challenges that he couldn’t have avoided, even after he tried to work with the referees to overcome his reputation. It put him at risk and no doubt played into his decision to leave for Spain.

Let’s hope the message is received with Young and the referees don’t overdo it.

What do you think? Dive or not? 


  • One of the problems you have with this is that the Sunderland player has not played the ball, and while he has made contact and an effort to get out of the way, he has clipped the player. If thats in the centre circle, I’m giving that as a freekick for sure. I also look at Young and the way he has fallen. I see this as a penalty. Its soft but its still a trip.


    • I agree that there’s contact. I wonder, if this had been anyone but Ashley Young, what Atkinson would have done…

      Also, I’ve noted on some other sites (Yahoo especially) a lot of folks are judging this based on the still photos, and exaggerating Young’s part in it because of those. You really have to look at it real time; Young was seriously flying and this all happened in a split second.


  • There was certainly contact, which clearly helped make his fall more dramatic, but I think it was a dive. In slow motion, it looked like he went airborne before the contact. However, it is extraordinarily hard to tell in real time, or even in slow motion for that matter whether the contact took him to ground or whether it was the dive. It was so hard to tell that I think the yellow card was unfair, and based on reputation alone.


    • He was going too fast for it to be anything but reputation.

      I’ve seen a dozen replays and I just don’t see this “he was already airborne” theory. He tripped at full speed, and as he does he leans toward the defender and rolls to get the ref’s attention.

      If you have to see something only on slow mo replay, then the referee didn’t see that.


  • Ashley Young jumped to exaggerate the contact. So, clearly no penalty. Yet, there is contact. So, I would give him the benefit of the doubt and judge it a “fall”, not a “dive”. However, I’m a foreigner to English football, so I’m not aware of reputations and past misbehaviours, which may precisely lead a referee not to give ‘the benefit of the doubt’…


  • nobody is saying anything about V.Persie being brought down in the 18-yard box. Am so peeved. The foul on VP was a stonewall PK. 10 good refs out of 10 would give that.then he unfairly books young right after that. sooo annoying


  • Pingback: Thoughts on the Premier League Referees, Matchweek 4: Clattenburg, Pawson and Mason. | PLAY THE ADVANTAGE

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