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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 16:44 GMT
Torquay to dismiss diving players
By Caroline Cheese

Torquay boss Ian Atkins
Gulls boss Ian Atkins has supported his chairman's initiative
Torquay United have warned their players they face the sack if they repeatedly try to con the referee.

Chairman Chris Roberts introduced the initiative after he was left "disgusted" by players diving and feigning injury during the World Cup.

He told BBC Sport: "It's only getting worse and I sincerely believe clubs have to stand up and take reponsibility for the conduct of their players.

"I want to win football matches but I want to win matches without cheating."

The new initiative works on the 'three strikes' system.

Players found guilty of clearly trying to gain an advantage by diving or feigning injury will be warned on the first two occasions, then placed on the transfer list or dismissed if they transgress a third time.

Roberts said he was encouraged by Sunderland manager Roy Keane's recent attack on players who try to con the referee.

THE TORQUAY INITIATIVE
Club's board will consider video evidence from third parties up to five days after match
Only "clear" cases of player diving or feigning injury to gain an advantage will be addressed
Player and representative will attend hearing with club directors, CEO and manager

If found guilty:
First offence: Player cautioned
Second offence: Final warning and maximum fine
Third offence: Player transfer-listed or dismissed

"Someone said to me, when we were talking during the World Cup, that clubs can't do anything about it but I thought, 'Well, actually they can'," said Roberts, who took over as Gulls chairman in October.

"When I arrived, I had a long chat with the manager, Ian Atkins, and we thought it was something we could do here so then it was just a question of when to launch it.

"Then Roy Keane came out and said what he did and just recently, Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney said he would support any club who took a stance against cheats and conmen."

He added: "What we are suggesting may sound draconian but a player has to do the same thing three times to be dismissed.

"And we are talking about black and white incidents - not situations where a player goes down and some say he dived and some say he didn't."

Torquay's players were informed of the new initiative on Tuesday.

"The older players were very supportive," said Roberts.

"Some others were surprised and some are probably still thinking about it.

"But at the end of the day, diving is never accidental. If a player decides to fall over and appeal to the referee, that is a conscious decision which people make.

606: DEBATE
SW

"And if a player is ever challenged and called a cheat by his own club, I believe the stigma of it would persuade them not to do it again so I don't think a club would ever get to sacking a player.

"It's the moral principle behind it that's important."

And Roberts hopes other clubs will join the initiative.

"I've challenged other clubs to follow suit and I'm keen to hear why they wouldn't," he said.

"But I'm not here to be confrontational with other clubs. I'm responsible for the conduct of Torquay's players on the pitch and that's what I'm doing."

SEE ALSO
Keane launches attack on 'conmen'
10 Nov 06 |  Sunderland
Roberts takes over Torquay reins
13 Oct 06 |  Torquay United
Burning issues
31 Jul 06 |  Football


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