Zen And The Art Of World Cup Diving

Abdul Keita gets Kaka sent off
AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
The Ivory Coast's Abdul Kader Keita may not win an Oscar or even a People's Choice Award, but at least he acted well enough to get Kaka sent off.

Diving, or as FIFA officials like to call it, "simulation," was on full display during Sunday's World Cup match between Brazil and Côte d'Ivoire. In the final minutes of the game star midfielder Kaka caught his defender with the lightest of back-elbows, sending Kader Keita to the pitch like a tazed oryx antelope. The referee tagged the Brazilian with his second yellow card, leading to an ejection and howls of laughter/outrage around the globe. Unfortunately for Brazilian fans, the ref didn't have the benefit of instant replay technology like the viewers at home.

Like taking a corner kick, flopping is one of The Beautiful Game's greatest arts, but clearly the most reviled ... as long as it's not your team getting caught in the act. If you want to go down like the best of them (see early Cristiano Ronaldo), you'll have to master the basics. Luckily for novices, a dive combines the best aspects of fire safety with everything you learned in high school drama class. Here are the core steps:

Stop:
The second you feel the slightest contact on your foot or head, ask yourself, "Am I facing an open net? Is the ref looking at me from more than five feet away?" If the answers to both "No," take a chance and go for the dive. Odds you'll put yourself and your team in a better position. Just ask Italians like Fabio Grosso, whose tumble against the Australians in the 2006 World Cup led to their eventual championship.

Drop:
If you're going to fall, put your entire body to it. Even husky players like Didier Drogba know that the secret behind a flop is how committed you are to selling it. If you can follow the Ivorian's lead by arching your back and channeling your best Platoon homage, more power to you.

Writhe:
Once you're on the turf, project pain. Think of that time your pet turtle died, or when took a free kick below the waist without wearing a cup. When in doubt, pretend you've just suffered a horrific eye injury. A pure display of agony can fool any official, even if the ball was nowhere near the point of contact. Just ask Rivaldo.

If you hear a whistle, congratulations, you've joined a sacred fraternity of soccer artisans and possible YouTube immortality. Remain on the ground until your team's trainers break out the stretcher or magic spray. If not, make sure the coast is clear before getting up, and try, try again.