Robbie Earle: Divers beginning to pay penalty for taking a tumble too easily
ANFIELD is the high-profile destination for Stoke City this Sunday with Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez very much the central figure of a potentially intriguing match.
Suarez will be looking for more goals hot on the heels of his hat-trick last time out at Norwich.
You can also bet Suarez will be looking for penalties whenever he takes on defenders in the Stoke City box.
However, after he had a decent call for a penalty turned down at Carrow Road last Saturday, you do begin to wonder whether past deeds are working against the little striker.
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To add more fuel to the debate, Manchester City's Argentinean striker Sergio Aguero claims foreign players are being treated more harshly than their British counterparts by referees when it comes to diving.
I'm not convinced Aguero is right. I believe it's simply about whether players have gone down too easily in the past. Enter Mr Suarez.
Put simply, it's their reputation rather than their passports that is working against these players.
The diving debate has been going on for some time and fans – and managers – all have opinions on the players who they believe go to ground too easily.
For Tony Pulis right now the prime candidates will be Chelsea duo Branislav Ivanovic and Oscar, plus Swansea's Ben Davies. Come tea-time on Sunday, it could be a certain Uruguayan.
Of course, if we are having these conversations then rest assured the referees are doing just the same.
They too, will have seen the recent television highlights and will be determined not to be outdone by a crafty tumble in the box next time around.
Why else would Suarez have had what appeared in retrospect legitimate penalty appeals against Norwich last weekend and against Manchester United the week before both waved away?
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson waded into the debate this week by claiming foreign players are the worst culprits for diving.
The trouble at United, of course, is that the problem has crossed the national divide.
So while you would expect a partisan manager like Sir Alex to stick up for his own, perhaps the antics of Ashley Young last season and, more recently, Danny Welbeck have conveniently slipped his mind.
To be fair, it was reported last season that Ferguson was so angered by Young's attempts to win penalties that he had a quiet word with the player about his conduct.
Although Young did win some very dubious decisions last term, I believe they were more due to the influence of the "Old Trafford effect" on referees rather than any favouritism for English players.
However, there are major cultural differences about diving.
In places like South America, the ability to "win" a foul both in and out of the opposition penalty box is seen as a skill. Going to ground without contact is readily accepted as part of the game.
In Britain, to put it bluntly, the majority of us see this as cheating.
Having come through the British football system, albeit 30 years ago, I can never recall a coach or manager ever telling me to get in the penalty area and take a dive. It just wasn't done.
However, over the last few years there does seem to be a shift of emphasis, and the modern coach in Britain is telling his players to go down if they feel any contact in the 18-yard box.
They don't see this as diving to get a decision, but a legitimate ploy to gain an advantage over physical opponents.
Pulis has gone public on his views about diving after Ivanovic and Oscar tried to con the referee when Stoke were at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.
The City boss went as far as to call for a video review panel and three-match bans for divers.
I fully agree with his sentiments, but it would be a very difficult policy to enforce.
Having sat in many television studios looking at replays, I know how difficult it is to be sure a player has dived and not been fouled, and that's after looking at the incident from all angles and all speeds and several times over – not a luxury afforded to our referees.
However, perhaps four years in the Premier League has given Pulis the right to expect similar treatment to that enjoyed by the likes of Fergie and Arsene Wenger.
They are always coming out with headline-making comments which put pressure on referees before a game.
Hence, TP would have been pleased that Swansea had Davies correctly booked for diving at the Brit last Saturday.
So it will be interesting to see how Suarez behaves at Anfield on Sunday.
The message to him is, 'stop going down so easily and referees will start to give you the benefit of the doubt'.
And that will apply whether you are from Montevideo or Macclesfield.