• Premier League

'Hawkeye for diving' could catch out play-actors

ESPN staff
May 15, 2014
Adnan Januzaj earned three bookings for diving at Manchester United this season © PA Photos

Premier League play-actors could soon be called up on their theatrics with an American billionaire funding a project aimed at mapping the physics of diving in professional sports.

The plan is to create an automated system that can tell whether players who go to ground have been fouled or are faking it.

Several high-profile Premier League footballers have been cautioned for diving in recent years, with Gareth Bale picking up seven bookings for the offence during his time with Tottenham and Luis Suarez racking up three at Liverpool since joining them in 2011. Adnan Januzaj may have only broken into the Manchester United first team this season but he has already earned as many bookings as the Liverpool striker for diving.

Mark Cuban, the technology tycoon who owns NBA basketball team the Dallas Mavericks, is paying for the project out of his estimated $2.6 billion (£1.5 billion) fortune.

World-renowned biomechanics scientist Peter Weyland has been charged with researching the project and is focusing on similar theatrics, known as 'flopping', in basketball, though he feels his work could eventually be applied to football.

Weyland and his team at Southern Methodist University in Texas have been determining how much force is required to knock someone over on a basketball court.

Experiments undertaken so far include barging test subjects in the chest with padded bars embedded with sensors and measuring the force of impact, with the 'foul' recorded by high-speed cameras.

Force sensors in the floor also track the player's centre of gravity while motion sensors measure his position, velocity and acceleration.

"I feel strongly about introducing science and data to situations in business and sports where there previously had been none," Cuban told the Dallas Morning News. "I love to challenge conventional wisdom."

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