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Premier League"s worst divers – according to Vinnie Jones

Diving has been happening for 20 years… it is up to captains and managers to stamp it out, says hardman Vinnie Jones

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UPDATED:

13:44 GMT, 11 December 2012

Vinnie Jones is explaining how he keeps up to date with events in the Barclays Premier League when the tone of his voice deepens considerably.

The thorny issue of diving has arisen in our conversation and Jones makes no attempt to conceal his disgust. Jones may now live in Hollywood and have a portfolio of 60 movies but, to a certain generation, he was the quintessential football hard man.

As one of the founder members of Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’, Jones took no prisoners and relished trying to take the big clubs down a peg or two. He was always rough and tough but never did this midfield enforcer rely on the dark arts of trying to hoodwink referees.

No contact: Santi Cazorla wins a penalty for Arsenal despite there being debate as to whether Steven Reid made contact

No contact: Santi Cazorla wins a penalty for Arsenal despite there being debate as to whether Steven Reid made contact

Going down: Cazorla goes over close to Reid and wins a penalty

Going down: Cazorla goes over close to Reid and wins a penalty

So when he is asked for his views about the theatrical antics that have become commonplace each weekend – the latest being Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla’s risible tumble against West Brom – Jones, typically, does not hold back.

'I was filming in New York last week for an episode of Elementary and I was in my trailer watching Celtic in the Champions League, in between scenes,’ said Jones, who also played for Chelsea, Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds before ending up in Tinsel Town.

'Anyway this geezer from Spartak Moscow gets tackled but goes down as if he had been shot in the calf with a 12 bore shotgun. He was only doing it to get the Celtic lad booked. He goes off the field after a bit of treatment then he’s running around with no problem.

Theatrical: Luis Suarez goes down while under pressure from Vincent Kompany

Theatrical: Luis Suarez goes down while under pressure from Vincent Kompany

Taking a tumble: Suarez goes down against Arsenal

Taking a tumble: Suarez goes down against Arsenal

FIVE WHO WOULDN’T GO DOWN

‘There were so many good lads playing in my day you were always guaranteed a battle. If I had to pick the hardest out I’d go for Bryan Robson, Steve McMahon, Terry Hurlock, Roy Keane and Carlton Palmer. Why Carlton He was so big, he’d run away from you and you’d never catch him!’

'Well, in my view, the referee should have booked him when he got up. All this is starting to creep up on clubs. You hear this talk of Gareth Bale but he’s not doing anything that David Ginola wasn’t doing. He was 6ft 4ins and you’d see him rolling all over the place.

'It’s terrible. It’s out and out cheating. This debate keeps rearing its ugly head every three or four years but nothing seems to happen.

'Everyone says it is down to the referees to sort it out but that isn’t fair. Referees are under such pressure now. Why are they getting stick from managers Managers and captains should be setting the example and other players should follow their lead to stamp it out.

'I’ll tell you a story: when I was at Wimbledon, one of our players – who shall remain nameless – went down with a dive in the area. I walked over, picked him up by his hair on the back of his neck and told him “we don’t do that here, son. Got it” I promise you he never did it again.’

No contact: Gareth Bale has been accused of being a serial diver

No contact: Gareth Bale has been accused of being a serial diver

Unbelievable: Bale has been booked for simulation four times this season

Unbelievable: Bale has been booked for simulation four times this season

Jones is in full flow now. From recounting how Wimbledon defied the odds in 1988 to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final to speaking of his pride that Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – his first acting roles – remains in the top five British movies of all time, the chat is never dull.

His is a quite remarkable story – the one time hod-carrier who joined the a Hollywood A-list – but even though his career has changed dramatically, his passion for football burns as intensely as it did when he was going toe-to-toe with the best around.

Fittingly, Jones has just become an ambassador for Warrior Football – the manufactures of Liverpool’s kit – and he describes England captain Steven Gerrard as befitting the image of the brand; a player who would never give up.

No nonsense: Vinnie Jones was known as a tough tackling midfielder

No nonsense: Vinnie Jones was known as a tough tackling midfielder

Unfortunately, though, he feels there are too few characters in the modern game.

'I said this would happen 20 years ago,’ he continues. ‘All this diving around isn’t new. I said the Premier League would get flooded with foreign players but people at the time said we needed them. I always felt it would be to the detriment of the national team.

'I feel sorry for Roy Hodgson. Harry Houdini couldn’t get England to win a tournament now. But I still watch the Premier League religiously. We probably see more games in America live than you do at home. We just need to see more of these honest players going in blood and thunder.’

Screen stars: Vinnie Jones and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini (below) star in the new Warrior Sport advert

Screen stars: Vinnie Jones and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini (below) star in the new Warrior Sport advert

Marouane Fellaini

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Vinnie Jones is an Ambassador for Warrior Football

Webber wants to race but admits concerns as decision looms for Bahrain GP

Webber wants to race but admits concerns as decision looms for Bahrain GP

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UPDATED:

17:18 GMT, 12 April 2012

Mark Webber announced 'I want to race' on a day when many of his peers shied away from addressing the thorny issue of Bahrain.

Last year, following the anti-government demonstrations in which a number of protesters were killed, Webber was the only driver to stick his head above the parapet and declare the sport should not stage a race in the Gulf kingdom.

Now, with this season's event just over a week away and as doubts rage as to the morality and safety of going to Bahrain, 35-year-old Webber has admitted concerns linger behind the scenes.

'I have tried to watch the news to get the most balanced view that I can possibly get without getting too corrupted by false information,' said Webber ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Lingering concerns: Webber

Lingering concerns: Webber

'It has been a little quieter, but this is Mark Webber sitting here – I have as much information as anyone else.

'If we had a choice would we go I want to race. That is what I would like to go there and do.

'But saying that you cannot ignore the fact that all of us, in the backs of our minds, want it to go down smoothly and don't want it to be involved in the unrest.

'We want the people out there to support our race. That is why it is so sensitive.'

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was adamant the race would go ahead, unless there was a late call-off by local organisers.

'It's another race on the calendar, it's scheduled,' said the 81-year-old.

'The only people that can do anything about it is the National Sporting Authority in the country.

'They can ask for it to be withdrawn from the calendar. Unless it gets withdrawn by them, then we'll be there.'

Countdown to the decision: Webber is in the dark as to whether Bahrain will go ahead

Countdown to the decision: Webber is in the dark as to whether Bahrain will go ahead

Ecclestone is due to speak with the team principals tomorrow and FIA president Jean Todt on Saturday upon his arrival from Taiwan, with a definitive answer due following that.

Webber has admitted he would not want to be in Todt's shoes given all eyes are now on the Frenchman and the FIA for guidance.

'It is now a difficult decision because we are one week away,' added Webber.

'But from January to here what has happened to make that decision harder

'Obviously the date has got nearer and you get more nervous. It is more topical.

'So there is a lot more pressure involved in the decision-making process and it's on the FIA, as the teams and Bernie have stated.

'But we need to trust the people making the decision, that they know how these people (the protesters) are going to operate.

'That's what it boils down to at the end of the day. You and I don't know how they operate. That is what we're going to find out.'

Webber concedes that absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, not when a certain protest group has vowed to disrupt the race.

Asked if the team had organised additional security, Webber said: 'There are measures in place, yes. There is added security.

'I accept not everyone can have that, and that doesn't make me feel comfortable. But let's hope it's complete overkill and we have no problems.'

Contrast Webber's responses to that of team-mate Sebastian Vettel who claimed he had not seen images or tv footage of anything in Bahrain for a year.

Most drivers opted to hide behind their teams or the FIA, saying they would be guided by either or both, offering sanitised responses even when pushed for a personal view.

As for the six drivers in the FIA press conference – Fernando Alonso, Paul di Resta, Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez and Narain Karthiekyan – there was stony silence when asked if they had moral difficulty in going to Bahrain.

The only other driver to offer his considered thoughts was Jenson Button who has called for the sport to portray a unified front.

'We have to stay united as Formula One because to say teams can make their own decisions is wrong,' said Button.

'We're racing in the championship, so if one team doesn't go it is 25 points lost, which is massive.

'So Formula One staying as one and united is very important, but the decision needs to be made by the FIA and I totally trust they'll make the right decision.'

Victoria Azarenka is new world No 1

Shake up in the women's game as champion Azarenka replaces Wozniacki as world No 1

Some major musical chairs takes place at the top of the women's rankings, reflective of the state of flux that this side of tennis finds itself in.

After her humiliation of Maria Sharapova on Saturday in the Australian Open final, 22 year-old Victoria Azarenka becomes the 21st world No 1 since the computer sparked into action in 1975.

And for the first time there are four first-time Grand Slam winners in possession of the sport's major titles in women's tennis, another indication that we are likely to see a changing of eras by the end of 2012.

On top of the world: Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is the new world No 1 while runner-up Maria Sharapova rises to No 3

On top of the world: Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is the new world No 1 while runner-up Maria Sharapova rises to No 3

After three hours sleep and a night
on the tiles, Azarenka was still pumped enough on Sunday to declare that
“I'm so hungry for more titles,” and it would not be a surprise if she
were to add at least one more Slam this season.

She is at the right age and clearly
on an upward curve, but it would also need to be said that there has
been greater competition around at other junctures of the women's game's
history.

Sharapova, despite having her lack
of movement exposed in the course of a disappointing 6-3, 6-0 defeat,
actually goes up to No 3, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova stays at two
while poor Caroline Wozniacki takes a rare old tumble, going down to No 4
from No 1.

Falling down: Caroline Wozniacki drops from World No 1 to No 4

Falling down: Caroline Wozniacki drops from World No 1 to No 4

With tickets for the final costing
upwards of 170 each it was hardly surprising that there were around
1500 empty seats on the Rod Laver Arena, even in sports-mad and wealthy
Melbourne, which may partly tell you of Australians' distaste for the
two players' grunting.

Beyond that thorny issue Azarenka
has a sunny personality and there is every chance that she will be the
one stepping in to the superstar gap that will surely open up in the
next two years as Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters fade away.

Clijsters has been reduced to world
No 30 by losing her title and will need to repair her ranking to avoid
meeting the best players too early in the three remaining Grand Slams
she plans to play in before retiring.

On the slide: The 2011 Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters has fallen to No 30 in the world

On the slide: The 2011 Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters has fallen to No 30 in the world