MLS- Real Salt Lake

Saborio facing likely suspension for dive

SaborioSuspension (ISIPhotos.com)

It was one of the more egregious dives seen this MLS season, and now Alvaro Saborio looks like he could pay a steep price for his action, which drew a penalty and a red card that turned a scoreless match against San Jose into a 4-0 blowout win.

According to sources within MLS, Saborio stands a very good chance of being suspended for one match for his tide-turning dive against the Earthquakes last Saturday. If Saborio is suspended, an announcement would come on Thursday.

Saborio caused a stir when he fell to the ground in the penalty area despite not having been touched by a San Jose player. A red card to Bobby Burling and penalty that Saborio converted was the resulting effect, which helped RSL blow away the Earthquakes.

While the punishment might seem harsh, it isn't a complete surprise because MLS stated clearly after fining Charlie Davies for diving that punishments, up to and including suspension, would be considered in future cases of diving that influenced the outcome of a match. Ironically, it was Davies' dive against Real Salt Lake that led MLS to consider stiffer punishment for the act of diving.

What do you think of this development? Like the idea of MLS suspending a player for diving? Think it's too much punishment?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Confused

    Diving is wrong. Jones in the Gold Cup should be ashamed. Charlie Davies should be ashamed. One problem with this new punishment is it’s so subjective. So when a center back falls down when they get brushed and the forward steals the ball, are the center backs going to be suspended for diving too? One could argue that it significantly affected the game. Players have to hit the ground for most fouls to be called.
    Sabo was off-balance, but there doesn’t seem to be anything there to have knocked him over like that. I’m just not sure this was as egregious as people are trying to make it. Certainly San Jose folded like deck chairs after the foul instead of trying to fight back. Are they going to suspend Busch and Wondo for their tantrums? Sabo should be fined, period.


  • Kevin_amold

    I agree that players will dive until fear of punishment is greater than the benefit of diving. And even then, there will still be some dives because it’s a split second decision.

    I’m all for suspending players when they go down and it can be proven that there was no contact with an opposing player. But what about when there is marginal contact? To me, the only dives you can truly punish are dives where there is no contact at all.


  • Kevin_Amold

    It is prominent in almost any contact sport. It is least often seen in hockey, in my opinion.


  • Kevin_Amold

    That’s why, in my opinion, you can’t suspend anyone for diving unless there is iron-clad proof that the alleged perp was never touched by a defender.

    Any kind of contact and all bets are off, right? How can Don Garber (or whoever does his bidding) sit in a room and be the arbiter of “yes, that was a dive” and “no, that wasn’t a dive”?


  • jessie

    Why would you think for one minute that the penalty of suspension is too harsh? The problem is that it won’t correct the unethical issue of Burling having to pay a fine for red card even though he got it for something he did not do.


  • RobsterCraw

    One game suspension is not enough. If they really want to stop diving, the suspensions need to be on the order or 5 games. One game suspension is just a rest. Granted springing such a big penalty against Saborio might be considered a little unfair (you know, like his dive and resulting penalty), MLS should make clear that any dive will result in a big suspension so that players will be well aware of the steep cost of dishonesty.

    /SJ fan


  • C C

    Quite comparing soccer diving to NBA diving. They don’t send off basketball players, make them play a man down, and give them 40 points.

    It’s not the same, at all.

    And saying that they should be diving (different from embellishing) because it’s in integral part of the sport is like saying cyclists should be taking banned drugs.


  • Neruda

    One game suspension is more than enough. RSL will still get three pts against Columbus.

    Someone tell SJ keeper Busch to not get in the face of opposing managers who are young, fit and will kick his can.


  • RB

    “to suspend a player for the actions of the referees is ridiculous”

    I agree: all refs who commit such diving should be similarly suspended, just like players who do it.


  • RB

    Well one bit you’re confused on is Jones, who was clipped on the back heel while running full tilt, as replays linked to here showed.


  • SurfGuyI

    It’s funny. So many of us that are complaining on here about this that are blaming the refs have been able to view the video 2-3 times to be sure what actually happened? I’m all about better referring but in the refs defense they didn’t get that opportunity. It happens so fast, in a blink of an eye. You can ask a dozen people on the sideline what just happened and you’ll receive many different answers.
    Just sayN . . .


  • Chris (@futboldaddy)

    Players have been warned and in 2-3 weeks since that Charlie Davies fine, there have been even more players continuing. A fine isn’t enough if it’s going to continue like this.


  • ShaggyReAL

    Breaking News……. Next week MLS will award 4 points per win. 2 points per draw and 1 point per loss.

    Nothing wrong with changing rules mid-season. Nah.

    I’m fine with suspending players for dives, but be consistent.


  • vivalosburros

    I know it seems like second nature to so many people to just blame MLS for everything and say that everything is better elsewhere. But this is an issue that has not been dealt with by other leagues. It seems to me the main reason Davies was not suspended is because given how other leagues have completely ignored diving, it is not easy to push punishment after the game. But I think they did the right thing in saying that this type of activity will not be tolerated. MLS is ahead of the curve here. I think they deserve some credit for this.
    MLS also deserves credit for handing out long suspensions for bad tackles. This is not something that is consistently done elsewhere as witnessed by the De Jong tackle on Ben Afra where he received zero punishment for something that was as bad as anything we have seen in MLS this year.


  • bigPepe'sPapa

    I think Davies needs to improve his dives if he aspires to suspension-worthy status. I mean, Saborio’s dive was a thing a beauty, and earned him 2 thumbs up from the Jacques Cousteau Society for Diving. It was an Oscar-worthy performance and made Davies look like he was working from Paris Hilton’s book on acting. However, like most things DC has done this year, Davies dives have been very 2nd rate.


  • BJ

    Right on about suspending diving defenders. What is the difference between altering the game by cheating to avoid giving up a goal and cheating to get a goal? But you’ll never see it. San Jose midfielders were going down left and right to avoid being stripped and giving Salt Lake quick counter opportunities.


  • JoeW

    First, the LAG game, Gonzalez put his arm on Davies and pushed. It went down easily, most of the time it isn’t going to be called late in the game but it was a foul. And frankly, there were some equally bad calls the other way (what should have been red cards when Wolff and Zayner were fouled that were both overlooked).

    Second, how many points has Davies earned with a dive? 1 point (the tie against RSL). So there weren’t “two free passes”. In fact, not even one free pass–on the dive against RSL he got a stiff fine and notified that “do it again and expect worse consequences.”

    Third, the league made it clear that subsequent flagrant dives would result in stiffer penalties. And that’s what happened.


  • JoeW

    There is a lot of whining going on here about unfairness and the standard set with Davies. I think people don’t get how this works:

    MLS has to notice there’s a problem. When they see that, they act. And then if it continues they escalate–that’s how it works. Example: skilled players with the ball being brutalized repeatedly to the point of injury. No, it didn’t start this year with Zakuani and Mullen. The league started the season by telling refs to be more protective of skilled players when they had the ball. Branko Boskovic had both an ACL torn AND a leg broken (on two separate fouls) against NE. No suspensions, no fines. But given the loss of a DP to rough play (after the game Steve Nicol complained about how DCU had so many free kicks in the second half), the league began to grumble about “maybe we need to do something more about this” and various media types talked about skilled players being attacked. Then Mullen retaliates and cripples Zakuani in a blatant foul with significant consequences and the league decides “we must act–it’s not enough to just give a red card and standard fine.” And you’ve got people saying “but the standard was set earlier–it’s just the usual suspension and fine.” No, the league upped the penalty b/c the earlier penalty didn’t seem to get people’s attention.

    FIFA says “yellow card for simulation” (but of course it’s rarely called). An obvious dive happens in a match, referee botches it (if Davies had really been fouled in the penalty area than it also called for Wingert to be tossed–which he wasn’t). So the league fines Davies hoping to send a message. But lo and behold, Saborio makes an equally flagrant dive in a game that results in a red card and perhaps breaks the game open. So the league concludes it needs to up the penalty–thus the suspension.

    As for instant replay, I think back to one of the Real-Barca matches this year where it was nothing but dives all day. Instant replay would have required at least 5-7 visits to the monitor and another 10-15 minutes of stoppage time. The game has gotten a lot faster and it’s hard for a mortal human who’s usually 20 years older than the players to be where the ball is. I think review after the match for flagrant fouls and dives works (b/c you can consult multiple angles) and than issue stiff penalties if warranted. Otherwise, my suggestion would be to add two more ARs so in each half of the field, one is focused more on offside and the other watching play off the ball for fouls. Effectively you add two more sets of eyes to watch stuff like this and have a better chance of someone near the penalty area where dives have so much impact but without having to sacrifice offside focus.


  • Bobby

    I could be wrong, but this dive drew a red card, whereas Davies dive just the penalty. Davies dive resulted in a tie, and Saborio’s dive resulted in a penalty and a reduction to ten men. The penalty is bigger because the impact on the game was bigger.


  • Oliver

    I’m also an RSL fan and I think it’d be good to suspend him. It stinks that the first one is for one of our players, but I think it’d be good for the MLS.

    And to Ives, I wouldn’t call the dive a turning of the tide, RSL had control of the game at that point and I think they would probably have won anyway.


  • RobsterCraw

    I can’t believe that I’m seeing American soccer fans defending diving in this comment thread. As an SJ fan I feel aggrieved by being cheated, but it is as an MLS fan and Soccer fan that I am incensed, not by Saborio’s dive mind you, but by every dive by any player on any team.

    Saborio dived. He cheated. Under what circumstances is it ok that it passes without consequences. Yes, the league has not been doing enough with previous incidents but if past unpunished incidents are justification for each successive dive to go unpunished then nothing can ever be done to solve the problem once the precedent has been set.

    Some have argued that it would be unfair for Saborio to be hit with strong sanctions because it is not fair to surprise players with unexpectedly harsh punishment. As if the prescribed sanctions against an action were the only reason not to perform the action.

    The point is that diving is officially a problem in the MLS. Considering that the average American sports fan has little patience for the things they consider “sissy” about soccer, diving in the MLS is really hurting the brand. Saborio’s dive wasn’t the first in the MLS nor will it be the last, and it isn’t all that important how the MLS deals with this incident in particular. What is important is that the MLS needs a clear and strong anti-simulation policy that employs the video review of matches and harsh penalties. While some may argue that anything more than a one game suspension is too harsh, remember that even with video replay, many alleged diving incidents are still hard to judge. So the probability that you can prove a player dived in a match is still quite low, and the percentage of dives that would go unpunished would still be quite high. In order to actually deter diving under these conditions, the penalty for those who have been convicted of diving must be relatively steep.


  • sammysounder

    CRAP!!!! Diving’s part of the game. If they want to stop it, then the referees need to start carding it when they see it.

    That’s how this is supposed to be dealt with.


  • Kire DCU

    Agree. It’s not a case of inconsistency with different players (e.g.- compared to Davies) so much as its MLS cracking down. I think most all of us would like to see less diving, to accomplish this harsher punishments are required in clear cases. You have to start somewhere. Who cares what team/player this begins/continues with?


  • Andrew

    I guarantee they wouldn’t have suspended him if the ref didn’t call a penalty. He is being punished extra for the ref sucking.


  • biff

    I agree 100%. After looking at the video of the dive, it is clear that the problem is poor officiating in MLS. As long as teams are playing soccer, there will be players diving, even on great teams like Barcelona, whose players are guilty of diving now and then. That is not to say that Saborio or other divers should not be suspended, but it is unbelievable that the refs did not see it was a dive. But rather then try to improve MLS refereeing, the MLS is going to try to scare players into not diving? Yeah, sure. Give me a break. Not only that, the MLS penalizes coaches and players who speak the truth and say how bad MLS officiating is. That is a silly rule that helps perpetuate bad calls like Saborio’s…


  • Charles

    Because FIFA and other sports don’t deal with it like they should…..

    MLS shouldn’t either ?

    No, sorry but that is wrong. Very solvable and I think MLS will solve it. Well done. Hopefully the rest of the world will follow suit.


  • Charles

    Maybe, but I would guess noone in favor of any suspension would be AGAINST non penalty, non red card, dives having suspensions too.


  • chupacabra

    Refs started carding for diving a long time ago, you’re just not paying attention. Just a week ago Ballouchy got carded for diving (simulation) in the Red Bulls game against Colorado.


  • CramMan

    The plain fact is you should not/cannot treat plyers actions differently. Davies as had two blatant dives and neither one was really punished. a 1000 dollar fine for a player of his salary is not a punishment.

    Once the MLS decided to only give him a fine they painted themselves into a corner. I really don’t care if they warned the players or not, if you give a harsher penalty to the next player you are being hypocritical and unjust.

    this issue is not just about the punishment for diving but also about the consistency of enforcement. This will be the second time this season the league has treated a situation involving RSL inconsistently. Modiani only being suspended 3 games instead of the same amount as Mullen, and now Sabo being treated differently then Divies.

    Say I am whining if you want, but all I am asking for is consistency.


  • Andrew

    It would only be fair. However isn’t the rule supposed to be a yellow card given for diving? So basically if the ref misses is, you get punished more than what you’re supposed to.


  • chad

    big rsl fan here, definitely not whining – am curious though why davies avoids suspension, but saborio won’t? seems inconsistent and as long as it is inconsistent, players will think they can get away with something.


  • Plinkostar

    This is 100% BS. Geez MLS why don’t you just come up with a rule that RSL can’t win the SS no matter what!? First our best player is injured in far and away the worst foul this year and that guy gets only 3 games even though the previous terrible foul was 10 games. Now this s*** after we have been screwed in at least 2 games results because of dives (NE and DC). This is incredibly inconsistent and I can promise you 10000000% that if it was Landycakes, Goldenballs, Henry, Shea, or Montero there would only be a fine. Is this the NBA!?!?!?!?


  • Ian Kilpatrick

    I don’t think this is a fair punishment, a fine would be though. If the darn ref had actually made the correct call, he would have gotten a yellow card during the game, and the game would have gone on. The MLS needs to overhaul their officiating crew, and implement video replay to review calls like this even closer. I am admittedly a RSL fan, but there have been many many bad calls over the course of this season, and that is just one more area that the MLS needs to improve on if they want to be considered a legit league that fans want to watch, and in time, a place where premier players want to play.


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