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Do foreign players get a rough deal in the Premiership?

Suarez Liverpool

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero has become the latest player to suggest that British players get better treatment by referees, after Liverpool's players spoke out about Luis Suarez' lack of protection.

The Premier League is one of the most attractive destinations in the world for football players. The wages are sky high, the stadiums are generally full, and the football is of the highest standard.

Football fans in this country are also generally very welcoming of new foreign stars, with all clubs now having heroes from abroad in their recent histories. The glamour of signing an exciting young signing from South America or a major star from Europe is an enjoyable part of any transfer window. But over the past few weeks there have been suggestion that foreign players are no given a fair crack of the whip by referees in this country.

Luis Suarez' teammates have bemoaned the fact that he is struggling to win fouls, as referees consider he has an inclination to dive. Sergio Aguero has also suggested that home players generally get more favourable decisions.

No referee should be giving any decisions based on reputation, but at the same time if a player does create a reputation for themself they have be held partially accountable for future decisions going against them. The question over bias has to be whether British players ever get this kind of reputation amongst referees.

In the past couple of seasons, three British players have faced several accusations of diving - Gareth Bale, Ashley Young and more recently, Danny Welbeck.

There are many other players who have been accused of course, but these spring to mind. Whilst Bale did receive a couple of yellow cards for simulation last season, there is little to suggest that any of these three have struggled to continue to win fouls despite their reputation. This is similarly true of other British players that have been alleged to go down easily - Gerrard, Owen, Walcott, even John Terry was recently called out by Ryan Nelsen for going down in the box.

Conversely Luis Suarez has had several decisions turned down recently that could have gone in his favour. Sergio Aguero too has not been given decisions, and the Argentine has no bad reputation as far as I can see. If anything, he often will stay on his feet in situations in the box when he could have gone down.

There is an odd narrative that foreign players have brought certain "dark arts" into English football, that things like diving were not around before them. This makes it easier for them to gain a reputation for diving that makes it harder for them to win fouls, especially in the box.

Letting a pre-conceived notion of a player's inclination to dive affect your decision is bad refereeing, but it is an understandable reaction to a player who has dived previously. However for this not to affect British players in the same way as foreign players is a far greater problem.

image: © dannymol

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