An ex-minister who had responsibility for sports policy has called for all diving in football to be legalised.
Bob Jobsworth, a former Minister for Sport, said successive governments’ approaches had failed, leaving unscrupulous coaches in control. The Barking MP wants to see a system of strict legal regulation, with dives either prescribed by a panel of Strictly Come Dancing judges or sold under licence. Mr Jobsworth is the most senior politician so far to publicly call for all diving, including diving in the penalty area, to be in any way legalised.
He said he realised when he was minister in charge of sports policy that the so-called war on diving could not be won. “Billions of pounds is being spent without preventing the widespread practice of diving,” he said, “It is time to replace our failed war on diving with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the football pitch a safer, healthier place, especially for our children”.
Mr Jobsworth insisted he was “not a libertarian” and that footballers should not be encouraged to dive. However, when pressed, he was uncertain as to how the policy might work. Asked where people might find a convincing dive on a Saturday afternoon, he replied: “Maybe at the local swimming pool”. The BBC’s Home Editor said under such a system a hardcore dive warranting a penalty might only be available on prescription from registered dance instructors, while other dives might be sold in a similar way to snoods and gloves.