4 Reasons Why Soccer Players Fake Injuries

Some of the best soccer players are notorious for their excellent pretense skills and the knack to fake injuries to manipulate the game’s outcome.

Though soccer is absolutely incredible in many respects, its simplicity makes it almost as good as it gets. I don’t really care which team plays as long as the game is good.

One thing, though, that is starting to put my enthusiasm and love of soccer to the test, is the new-grown mentality to fall on the ground and roll around in anguish as if death itself were imminently about to claim them.

Why Do Soccer Players Fake Injuries?

4 Reason Why Soccer Players Fake Injuries

Soccer players fake injuries in order to gain competitive benefits, as it aids in convincing the referee that the opposition player committed a serious tackle.

Sadly, it has become a tradition to fake injuries in soccer. Players no longer pretend to be hurt after a tough tackle. Today, players would roll around or scream “in pain” and add dramatic flair to the slightest bit of contact.

While their motives may be questionable, there is a purpose for why soccer players fake injuries.

Players who feign an injury or jump to the ground are often intending to manipulate the referee. There are four reasons they fake injuries:


The number one undesirable aspect of soccer is time-wasting.

If your team is maintaining a slim lead, there are a few cunning ways to gain an advantage, especially when the game is interrupted for a foul, goal kick, or throw-in.

Although wasting time on purpose is prohibited and it’s liable to a yellow card, faking an injury may be tricky to know, making it an effective strategy.

Comparing soccer to the majority of American sports, timekeeping is quite different. The time only stops at the half-time and full-time whistles, which signal the conclusion of either half, unlike in basketball and American football.

Referees are in charge of keeping track of game delays and allocating extra time (also known as additional time or injury time) to the end of each half to compensate for delays. However, with so many other obligations on the pitch, the referee may find it challenging to keep track of each and every stoppage.

Players normally fake injuries to delay their opponent’s momentum, slow down the game, and waste time.

Getting Opponent Booked

You’re undoubtedly aware that some fouls result in yellow or red cards. When a player receives a red card, they are permanently expelled from the game and cannot be replaced by a substitute. A yellow card is a warning, a red card is a result of receiving two yellow cards.

Players have been known to pretend to be injured in an effort to get an opponent sent off or given a yellow card.

This form of injury faking is most common once a player has already been booked.

A player could pretend to be injured if they are aware that their opponent has received a yellow card in the hopes that the referee would show them a second yellow and dismiss them.

Going to the ground after a contest for a header is one of the most prevalent ways modern footballers fake injuries.

In an effort to get their opponent yellow or red carded, many times we’ve seen players fall to the ground and communicate to the referee that they’d been elbowed.

Although this is a dishonorable behavior, it happens quite often in today’s game. However, referees do not always fall for fake injuries by giving free kicks, penalties, or cards, they sometimes struggle to determine whether or not an injury is legit.

To Win Spot Kick

The fundamental goal of faking an injury is not to convince other players that you are injured. Players fall to the ground and appear to be injured in order to fool the referee into thinking they were fouled.

Strategically falling down in the opponent’s penalty box might result in the attacking team being given a penalty, which opens up a simple scoring opportunity.

A player may feign to be injured to earn a free kick in an advantageous position if they believe they will not score or benefit from an attacking position. Goal-scoring opportunities can arise from free kicks close to the opponent’s goal, either from a direct strike or cross.

Regain Possession Of The Ball

A team may become vulnerable to a quick counterattack if they lose control of the ball.

A player may fall on the ground and pretend to be injured in a desperate attempt to stop play after getting dispossessed.

Whether or not the opposition is in a favorable position, a referee may halt the game if a player is deemed to suffer a serious injury. Major injuries include those involving the head, fractured bones, unconsciousness, or a significant impact. Insignificant situations like a regular contact, a rolled ankle, or muscle cramping won’t necessarily need referees to halt the game.

This is seen as a rather cheesy move that just highlights the player’s inability to control the ball or use it efficiently. A better player would either not lose the ball in the first place or work hard to win the ball back for the team.

The Best Time To Fake An Injury During A Soccer Game

At no point during the game do we encourage you to fall to the ground to fake an injury.

When players are inside the 18-yard box, they often fall to the ground at the slightest body contact in order to win a penalty kick from the referees. When the ball gets close to free-kick (shooting on goal) territory, players also do this to provide their team strong field position and a chance at a goal.

Secondly, it can also be useful when playing defense inside your own zone. Faking an injury can help win the ball back against the attacking side. It may also be quite risky because faking being injured could provide a player with a clear shot. The best players to do this against are usually those who are aggressive.

Who Are To Blame For The Fake Injuries Ethics?

I’m not sure. I believe there is enough blame to go around. Players, coaches, soccer associations, fans, and even the media are all involved. However, the referees must bear most of the blame—at least in my opinion.

The officials are the ones who call a halt to the play as a player plunges to the ground, holding his head, shoulder, leg, or whichever part is closest to becoming stuck, and rolls around on the ground until enough time has passed for him to get medical attention and go off the field.

Moments later, they suddenly appear back on the field, and when the ball is thrown their way, they run like the wind once more, completely forgetting that they were only seconds away from passing out.

VAR (Video Assistance Referee) has become the major antagonist in the players’ viewpoint. We can now definitively see when a player is faking an injury thanks to VAR’s ultra-clear, ultra-slow motion on our screens.

If you watch a soccer game and pay attention to the number of refs whistling for a pause due to injuries, and then watch the replay several times in slow motion. It’s actually safe to assume that between 75% and 85% of the time a player is injured, he actually doesn’t get injured at all.

The answer is, it occurs as a result of referees’ complicity.

Referees blow their whistles far too much. You would watch a game and you’ll be able to tell right away if the referee is having trouble.

You can see that this person isn’t going to put up with their BS, and ultimately the players can tell as well.

Nothing is more exciting to me than watching a player with the ball get tackled and dispossessed, fall to the ground, roll around in pain, and peek to check if play has stopped as the referee ignores it and allows play to continue.

It just makes it more satisfying when VAR reveals the player has barely been touched. In a way, it is practically an attempt to cheat.


The Consequences of Underestimating Real Injuries

The “can you just get up” approach instilled in players is unhealthy and risky. Assuming a soccer injury is “fake” might encourage a culture of ignoring true, severe injuries or even life-threatening ones, especially head injuries and concussions.

Simply brushing off these injuries is a bad idea now that we know how the brain can be impacted by even mild or subconcussive impacts.

Heading the ball raised the level of proteins linked to neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, if you witness what appears to be a minor player-to-player head collision, it may actually be worse than it appears, especially if it occurs repeatedly.

Even seemingly minor leg injuries could have caused more damage than a player or coach realizes.

The most important rule should be: if a player complains of discomfort or appears injured, the coach should remove them from the game immediately.

If you think their injuries appear to be more serious than first thought, at the very least give them some time to relax and, at most, have them examined by a doctor. Always err on the side of caution.

Should Faking An Injury Be Considered An Offense?

Now for the most part we have used diving and faking an injury interchangeably and I believe rightfully so. Typically diving is just making it obvious that something has happened, either rightfully or otherwise, whereas faking injury ups the ante a little bit.

The goal is a little less obvious when soccer players do this while rolling around on the pitch while holding their leg for an extended period of time. It is obvious that what they do is somewhat theatrical, and before you blink they’re up smiling and rolling up their socks as soon as fouls are called.

What other motive could there be besides trying to convince the referee that the foul was much worse than it was in order to get the defender dismissed?

However, a difference must be established here: “faking an injury” is not the same as soccer players rubbing their ankles after a foul for a short period of time before getting up.

Have you ever experienced a cleat’s direct hit to the ankle bone? Trust me, it hurts! What I mean by “faking an injury” is not this.

The act of faking being injured would more closely match Neymar’s Oscar-winning World Cup 2018 theatrics against Switzerland.

No one will argue the fact that Neymar wasn’t fouled during the play, but it was his reaction that sparked the displeasure of the soccer-loving fans. It is obvious that he is not just attempting to benefit from the foul; one or two rolls would have sufficed.

Instead, he tried to make the foul look so painful that it would result in the dismissal of the opponent. His heinous theatrics is even more unbelievable considering the fact that he made it seem as though the player hits him with a machete

What’s The Punishment For Faking Injuries?

A player will receive a yellow card if they are found to be faking an injury or trying to fool the referee.

In accordance with soccer regulations, one of the scenarios where a player must receive a caution for unsportsmanlike conduct is if a player:

attempts to deceive the referee, e.g. by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)

IFAB Law of the Game

A player should be aware of the serious consequences of receiving a yellow card before trying to deceive the referee.

Soccer players still fake being injured despite the risk of punishment because they believe the benefits will outweigh the risks.

For those who make flopping offenses, there have been proposals for retroactive bans in the Premier League.

The concept is for a regulatory body to analyze replays after the incident to assess whether players fake injuries on purpose. After that, defaulting players will be fined and suspended for a certain number of games.



Wrapping it Up – Faking Injuries In Soccer

Players who fake an injury are often caught by the officials who view it as a cheap ploy. This is why we advise against faking an injury in order to get a call from the referees.

Play your game diligently and avoid putting the game in the ref’s hand. Making the referee make a decision for you could be advantageous or counterproductive.

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