‘Football is cheating,’ says Pellegrini

• Players 'always trying to take advantage,' says City manager
• Pellegrini backs referees in battle over simulation

The Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that football is tainted by players cheating. The Fifa president Sepp Blatter has blasted players for diving and feigning injury and now Pellegrini has backed referees.

He said: "I think it is very difficult to be a referee. The players play too quickly, the players are always trying to cheat because football is cheating. I think it is very difficult and I respect them (referees).

"Of course nobody likes it when the referee whistles against your team when it is wrong, but a lot of time he whistles and gives you an advantage that maybe you didn't have."

The Everton manager Roberto Martínez said there should be communal effort to help eradicate diving from the game. He said: "I always felt extremely proud of the British game compared to other leagues around Europe in that we haven't got it in our culture.

"But unfortunately it has been happening – we have been a mix of cultures in the last few seasons and we are going to be getting that side of the same. I think it is down to all of us to try to eradicate that and get it out of the game."

Martínez said referees were sometimes understandably reluctant to award penalties. He added: "I can be sympathetic with the referees. It is so difficult to make big calls at the moment because you have certain players that more often than not try to simulate and try to go to ground easily.

"That makes the referee's decision a lot harder. We all need to accept and understand that referees, if they are not 100%, are not going to give the decisions. I think that is part of the game and it is our fault - we have done that.

"It has been creeping in and has been happening now for a couple of seasons. But I prefer to see a referee who is firm and wants to be 100% before giving a big decision, rather than falling for a player buying a decision."

Simulation has been back on the agenda in the Premier League after Chelsea's Oscar was booked for the offence having gone to ground in the box in his side's 3-0 victory at Southampton on New Year's Day. The Chelsea manager José Mourinho, who backed the referee's decision that day, agreed diving should be tackled but that England was the country most committed to doing so.

"There are many ways to fight it," Mourinho said. "You can fight with the yellow card, you can fight with a wild criticism from you (the media) and from the fans. You can fight with penalty time, like Blatter is saying. There are many way to fight and we all should do that.

"The basic thing is culturally you have to try to be strong enough for people to feel (it is wrong), independent of penalties and suspensions and yellow cards. You have to try to persuade people it's an important issue in the game.

"If Mr Blatter is worried with that, I think he should do a tour in many countries, not just European, because he's Fifa.

"He has to start a tour, go around places where that becomes part of the culture and the last country for him must be England, because it's the country where football is more pure, is more clean, in relation to these situations." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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