Football: Barwick warns dive `cheats'

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The Independent Online
AS BRIAN Barwick started his new job as the chief executive of the Football Association yesterday, he issued a manifesto denouncing diving, appealed for honesty from players, and sent a warning to Arsenal and Manchester United that he expects a sportsmanlike contest at Highbury tonight.

Displaying the communication skills that have earned him a reputation as a likeable, conciliatory figurehead, his "first-day statement" included two specific pieces of praise for United, a club he reputedly hates. He described Wayne Rooney's weekend goals as "spellbinding" and United as a "great" team, words that might not soft-soap Sir Alex Ferguson but showed intent of respect.

On the subject of "simulation", Barwick said: "Let's get real - this is diving. Cheating in fact. We've all got to show more honesty. Every week, referees are under intense scrutiny when making split-second judgement calls. It's impossible to get them all right and everyone has got to take a greater level of responsibility."

He did not add how he intends to address this, but said football "should never be afraid to learn from other sports". Whether this means new technologies, harsher punishments or neither remains to be seen.

Barwick promised to encourage "sensible, mature dialogue to safeguard the integrity and future of the game". He also reported that the new Wembley will be ready in time for next year's FA Cup final.

Of tonight's big match, he said: "It should represent all that is good about our domestic game and not be the subject of recrimination and revenge for weeks and months following." Evidently an optimist, Barwick added: "I'm looking forward to a classic played in the right spirit."