JURGEN KLINSMANN was renowned for it long before his move to the Premiership in the mid-90s and Diego Simeone's embarrassing tumble got David Beckham sent off in the 1998 World Cup finals.

El-Hadji Diouf recently admitted his cleverness to do it well is to the benefit of the team he plays for, while even former referee Paul Alcock mastered the art of the dive eight years ago when he fell to the floor after a push from Paolo di Canio.

So why has Cristiano Ronaldo's latest theatrics caused such a stir around the country? The art of diving has been in the game longer than the Portuguese winger has been on the planet. You'd think we would be all used to it by now.

Ronaldo, who collapsed to the floor without being touched, was in such tantalising mood anyway that he could have orchestrated a success at the Riverside Stadium without trying to con referee Chris Foy.

In fact, had he not dropped to the floor and stayed on his feet, there was every chance he would have scored anyway. He had rounded a floored Mark Schwarzer and had just a couple of Boro defenders to slide the ball between for the opening goal.

As it stands it was Louis Saha that scored, not Ronaldo, and the World Cup winker is once again hitting all the headlines for the wrong reasons.

An outstanding talent who would be adored and admired by the whole footballing fraternity if he could shed his bad boy image. There are those that would say he would not be the same player, but he would still have all the skills just with a better attitude.

World football's governing bodies, who are already accused of interfering too much with the beautiful game, must decide whether to tackle this issue head on or to just retain the status quo.

At the World Cup finals in the summer players seen to have been duping the referee were automatically branded with a card. Yet that has done little to eradicate the problem.

Take Saturday as an example. Had Mr Foy judged Ronaldo had dived then he would have been booked. Ronaldo wasn't, even though he hit the floor without contact, and Manchester United took the lead from the penalty.

Did the threat of a yellow card deter the player in question? It would appear not. So what now?

It is easy to suggest, in the modern game, where television replays are ready at the touch of a button, that is the way to go. But, surely, too many stoppages would make the game more like a rugby match.

The only alternative is for the Football Association to be given license by FIFA and UEFA to come down hard on the culprits tarnishing the game's reputation - if that's what they are accused of doing.

Torquay United have already threatened to take the laws into their own hands this season by sacking players if they repeatedly dive or feign injury.

Gulls chairman Chris Roberts had called on his fellow chairmen to back him and take a stand against diving.

Given Sir Alex Ferguson's insistence that the Ronaldo incident was a certain penalty, it would appear Roberts' demands is likely to fall on deaf ears.

The Roberts system would work on a three strikes basis, meaning players would have to get caught three times before being sacked. Perhaps a little extreme, but it could be something to work with.

Those at Soho Square should take the advice on board and adopt the three strike approach.

Players seen to have taken a dive could receive a caution for their first offence, a final warning and then a maximum fine for their second offence.

And then, if they have been found guilty of diving a third time, would result in them being suspended for a period of time.

It is an initiative that would have to be given approval across the world, otherwise English clubs competing in Europe would be at a disadvantage.

A decision from the top is required but perhaps it is time something is done to stop the players deliberately conning their opponents, Middlesbrough Football Club would certainly agree.