Blatter targets 'play-actors'

Sepp Blatter has called on referees to punish play-acting by imposing "time penalties" on offending players.

There have been 13 bookings for simulation in this season's Premier League, and Blatter has identified a "deeply irritating" trend of diving and feigning injury in the game.

Now the FIFA president has called on officials to stamp out the offences as a matter of urgency, and top of his hit list are players who deliberately slow the game down by exaggerating injury.

He said: "The instructions are now clear on this matter: if a player is lying on the floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball into touch. The referee should only intervene if he believes a serious injury has occurred.

"When a 'stricken' player seeks to return to the field of play immediately after being taken off, the referee can make the player wait until the numerical disadvantage has had an effect on the game.

"In practical terms this amounts to a time penalty - and it could cause play-actors to rethink."

Blatter also used his FIFA Weekly column to demand a change in the attitudes of players.

He said: "Cutting out this kind of cheating is a matter of respect towards opponents and fans, and ultimately one of self-respect as a professional and role model.

"This kind of thing is treated with scorn in other sporting disciplines but it has become a normal and accepted part of football nowadays.

"Even though simulation is incredibly unfair and looks preposterous when viewed in a replay, some people regard it as smart or in the worst case as a harmless misdemeanour.

"This includes the winning of controversial penalties by extravagant diving in the box. I find this deeply irritating, especially when the (supposedly) half-dead player comes back to life as soon as they have left the pitch.

"The touchline appears to have acquired powers of revival which even leading medical specialists cannot explain."