Why do Soccer Players Fake Injuries?

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Soccer, while an exciting sport, has gained a reputation for fake injuries. This is commonly called foul simulation when the players try to manipulate the referee’s decision.

Faking injuries gives an advantage to the players, but it also angers fans and management and can destroy the trust in the team. 

If you’ve ever seen a soccer match, you might have wondered why soccer players fake injuries.  There are many reasons, but all in all, it’s an underhand technique to gain an advantage on the field, like penalties or free kicks.  

They could also happen because of frustration with opponents, yellow or red cards, etc. However, with technological advancements like VAR (Video Assistant Referee), there’s a more significant chance of catching foul simulation or diving in the act. 

Foul Simulation in Soccer

Soccer, by nature, is a contact sport, and players can be found being tackled to the ground and diving. While most of these injuries and dives are real, sometimes, players do exaggerate them. This is what we call foul simulation.

The purpose behind the foul simulation is strategic, rather than theatrical. When a player fakes or exaggerates an injury, they are actually trying to gain an advantage over the opposite team through a foul. 

Soccer is a fast-paced sport where the error margin is fragile. Something small, like a minor collision or tripping, can cause a player to lose their balance and impact the entire game.

While it may not seem much, foul simulation requires strategy and clever thinking about when to fake and when not to fake. 

Foul simulation can give a team an advantage in a game; however, it’s also considered an unethical practice and can cause a player and teams to lose the trust of their fans and the league management. Systems like VAR help prevent and curb foul simulation. 

Yellow or Red Card for Other Team’s Player 

One of the main reasons players exaggerate fouls is to make the other team get a yellow or red card. The opposite team is penalized based on the type of penalty, like intentional kicking, etc.

Both these cards are a way for the referee to communicate with the players. A yellow card is used for minor offenses like intentional kicking or tripping a player, persistent fouls, etc. It warns players to be careful and lets them know that they have committed an offense. 

Additionally, two yellow cards lead to a red card, and the player is immediately ejected from the field. One team then has to play with one less player. This can potentially change the course of the whole match.

If you’re still wondering why foul simulation happens, the answer is simple; players do it to gain a tactical advantage over the opposing team. It’s a type of cheating in sports, and players use it when winning by any means is their priority. 

Penalty Kick for the Team 

penalty kick

One reason players opt for foul simulation is that it could help them get a penalty kick. The soccer field has penalty boxes, which are large, rectangular boxes around both goalposts. A foul in a team’s penalty box results in a penalty kick for the opposing team. 

A penalty kick is basically a free kick a player takes 12 yards from the goal from the penalty mark. No other players are allowed in the penalty box during this time, and it’s a 1 vs. 1 match between the player and the goalkeeper. It’s a direct free shot, which means it could be a good incentive for players to simulate fouls.

Usually, the goal count in a soccer game is 2 or up to 3, unlike other sports, so a foul simulation that results in a penalty kick is lethal for the opposing team. Simulation in soccer is a calculated risk.

Players who can convince the referee that they’re right after faking an injury can cause the opponent to be either dismissed with a red card or get a penalty kick. Both outcomes can change the entire dynamic of the game. 

Frustration in Opponents 

Why do soccer players fake injuries? Is it to ruin a perfectly good match? Or gain some advantage? While simulation leads to expected gains, it also frustrates the opposing team. 

Want to tighten them up and make them anxious? Just go for a round of fake injuries. I kid you not. Fake injuries cause the opposing team to lose morale and momentum, and it can adversely affect their performance and winning chances. 

In fast-paced sports like soccer, where even 1 second can make or break the game, psychological tactics like this can turn the tide. Soccer isn’t just a game you play with your feet. It’s a game of strategy that involves both mental and emotional warfare. 

If the referee accepts the fake injury as real and calls a foul, it will greatly aggravate the affected team. Foul simulation can breed frustration, anxiety, anger, and feelings of injustice, among others. 

Isn’t this Unfair/Unethical? 

While simulation lets players reap some potential temporary benefits, it’s an unethical practice. From a simple point of view, fake injuries go against the code of conduct of players and the spirit of soccer. 

Many believe that this sort of behavior tarnishes the image of soccer. It brings the game down to mere theatrics and undermines the skill and strategy the sport requires. Plus, if you get caught, then yikes!

The referee will issue a yellow or a red card and bye-bye game immediately. So, really, think carefully before attempting to fake an injury during a match. 

Now, let’s consider the affected team. Not only have they been wronged, but they could get an unfair disadvantage and even lose because of one player’s antics. 

Soccer is a sport, and it should maintain sportsmanship, honesty, and integrity. It may be a competition, but that doesn’t mean players should try to win by foul means. The referee and the management should also take preventive measures, like VAR, to curb simulation. 

How VAR Can Prevent Foul Faking or Simulation? 

Technology like VAR helps solve the issues of faking injuries or simulation. VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee, and it’s been a huge help to referees on the field. 

VAR is a game-changing technology that helps referees review critical decisions made during a match. These fundamental decisions typically revolve around goals, penalty kicks, red cards, and instances of mistaken identity.

In the past, players could fake injuries and not worry about being caught because a referee would make an in-the-moment decision and not have a way to look back. 

A team of trained officials sits in a video operation room and monitors the game. They are ready to intervene and resolve any match-changing decision. VAR Technology helps a lot!

With VAR, foul simulation or faking injuries become harder. Players’ actions will be recorded and can be rewatched multiple times. At the moment, VAR has been installed and implemented in top leagues, and it’s showing results. 

Although VAR is helpful, it also faces criticism. Fans argue that it disturbs the natural rhythm of the game, and others feel that it kills raw emotions. But, without VAR, fake injuries won’t be as easily caught. 


There are a few reasons why soccer players fake injuries, like trying to foul the opposing team, messing with their brains, etc.

Whatever the reason, foul simulation is an unethical and dishonest practice. In a game riddled with honesty and true competition, things like foul simulation are not acceptable. 

In the past, foul simulation was hard to catch, and it often slipped through the referee’s reach. However, VAR has recently made catching and preventing simulation or fake injury much easier. Soccer players should respect the spirit of the game and not resort to such crude tactics. 

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