Definition of Player Simulation

What is the meaning of player simulation in the game of football / soccer?

Player simulation is an unsportsmanlike conduct of attempting to gain unfair advantage by pretending to be fouled and falling to the ground with the aim to trick the referee into calling for a penalty, a free kick or simply to try and waste time or get the other player booked and suspended from the game.

The act of player simulation is often called diving, flopping and in extreme cases cheating. Simulation is very much part of the game of soccer, but in recent years the governing body and the referees themselves have been getting tougher on punishing the offenders.

The recommended punishment for simulation is a yellow card. In Britain, since 2017/18 season, the league is able to review video footage of games where the referee was tricked by a foul simulation and then punish the offending player with multiple game bans.

The illustration of a football player pretending to be fouled.  The meaning of player simulation - diving - in soccer explained.  Sports dictionary.

There is an increasing trend of diving and simulation in soccer. The practice goes against sport ethics and what is morally acceptable conduct. In a perfect world, sports players, who are often idolized by younger generations, should project core value of fairness, integrity and respect. Pretending to be injured, making false contortions of the face at times when there is no contact made, flopping and then rolling around on the pitch very much go against those principles.

In defense of the players, diving is not always performed to try and cheat the game. Sometimes, for the sake of injury prevention, it is safer to hit the ground after being tackled then it is to stay on the feet. Players also resort to exaggerating contact to highlight to the referee that an offense has taken place.

With the way the sport of football is evolving, the practice of simulation is likely to decrease over time. On the top level especially, during big tournaments etc., where use of VARs (Video Assistant Referee) is becoming a new standard.