February 8, 2018 / 1:29 AM / 5 months ago

Soccer - La Liga to punish players for diving, provocative celebrations

BARCELONA (Reuters) - La Liga players could be punished retrospectively for overzealous goal celebrations and for diving to win fouls after the Spanish league’s authorities announced changes to its disciplinary system on Wednesday.

The changes come four days after Barcelona defender Gerard Pique celebrated an equaliser in a derby game at Espanyol by holding his finger to his lips to shush the home supporters, which prompted criticism from the league’s president Javier Tebas.

“La Liga promotes and fervently defends sporting values such as respect, cooperation, teamwork, fighting for equality, social responsibility... and will inform the Competition Committee of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) of any behaviour contrary to the dignity and decorum of sport...” said a statement from the league.

“Especially (behaviour) which provokes the animosity of the crowd, therefore impeding football from developing in harmony with sporting values.”

La Liga has compiled weekly reports of offensive chanting heard in Spain’s top two divisions since December 2014, when a Deportivo La Coruna fan was killed by Atletico Madrid supporters before a game. Clubs whose supporters repeatedly offend are threatened with financial penalties.

The latest report highlighted abusive chants by Espanyol fans aimed at Pique, although it stated that the chants were heard after the player’s goal and celebration.

The new regulations, published in the same email to the media as the report on offensive chants, state that players who dive could also be retrospectively punished.

“Clear simulations or offensive goal celebrations which are not reflected in the referee’s report, and could cause tension or are opposed to sporting conduct have always been rejected by this league.

“From now, the league will not hesitate in informing the Competition Committee of such actions, so that it can begin proceedings and impose the correct punishments.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis

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