Keith Hackett, the referees' manager, is to convene a meeting of leading officials in the latest attempt to combat diving in English football, reports The Guardian. The decision comes amid controversy over Liverpool's penalty against Birmingham City and Hackett's admission that the match official at Anfield, Peter Walton, will be "upset" at being duped into the award by David Ngog.
"I will be sitting down with Peter on a one-to-one basis, and as a group, to see how we can best deal with this problem so that errors are reduced," Hackett said. "We will sit down and go through what the referee could have done to avoid this error. Before I do that I need to look at the various views of the incident on the TV footage to look at the position of the referee. I'll tell you this, I know Peter Walton very well and he will be upset when he views the DVD of this particular decision."
Hackett has sympathy for Walton's predicament, however, and believes such controversies will be inevitable as long as match officials operate without technological assistance.
"Nobody in the game supports the act of simulation and I think that's true of managers and all the organisations in the game, like the LMA [League Managers Association]," he said. The managers are working very, very hard in fairness to cut this out and I know from speaking to them regularly that they abhor this type of behaviour. However, these acts do take place because players do go down and that puts pressure on referees.
"I have said to managers in the past that this is an area of great difficulty for referees and it can come down to the viewing angle of the referee. It's easy for the media and fans, who have the benefit of replays and different viewing angles to see whether or not it was a dive. Referees don't have that and have to make a decision on the spot."
But Hackett said professional referees still had a duty to identify cheating when it occurs.
"Ultimately it's down to players not to commit acts of simulation. However, as referees, we have a responsibility," he added. "Referees need to put themselves in the right viewing area to be able to see what's happening.
"It is difficult and sometimes the speed and quality of the player and the way they can juggle the ball, does catch referees out. I thought both managers were very clear in their views and said it wasn't a penalty. I also thought the manager of Birmingham was pretty magnanimous in his post-match comments."