CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in LONDON: Michael Owen says that the foreign influence in the Premier League is the cause of the culture of diving prevalent.

High profile incidents involving Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale at the weekend have led calls for diving to be retrospectively punished. Owen told an audience at the Leaders in Football conference that it was part of the game but one that he believes was brought in by foreigners.

“I’d say it’s worse than it is 10 years ago,” he said. “And I would have to say that with the foreign influence coming from South America, Spain and Italy – I think that when I was a kid you would see a lot of simulation and you wouldn’t see it in England.

“Certainly with the influx of foreign players now it’s a world-wide problem, it’s not just a problem for the Premier League – now English players are as guilty as foreign players but I think the foreign influence played a part.”

However Owen did balance the score-sheet so to speak when he praised the influence of the foreign game in Britain for having made changes in the health and fitness of players.

“There was a lot of drinking and things not conducive to football basically, and I think the foreign influence was a huge help to the British game that has been the catalyst to these changes,” he said.

“Now everyone runs faster, pitches are faster and everyone’s got to keep up to speed because if you’re not doing it someone else is. The game is speeded up in many ways and that’s probably down to the foreign influence.”

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