Alan Shearer started the debate raging with his comments over Shaun Wright-Phillips' alleged dive and the cudgels have since been taken up by a succession of managers.

Iain Dowie, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are just a smattering of people calling for retribution against the cheats who are blighting the English game.

Steve Bruce was renowned as a no-nonsense centre-half who found the whole process of diving abhorrent.

His stance regarding feigning injury and theatrics is still as trenchant as ever, but he has mellowed over penalty awards after minimal contact.

However, the Birmingham City manager's patience will be sorely tested tomorrow as runaway Premiership leaders Chelsea come to town.

Jose Mourinho's side appear to have been permanently splashed across the back pages since their defeat at Barcelona as controversy has followed them around like a bad smell.

Malodorous as their recent misdemeanours involving Wright-Phillips, Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben may be, there is no hint of reproach from Mourinho.

Nevertheless, it would be churlish and grossly unfair to label Chelsea as the only side guilty of over-reacting to a perceived foul.

Every club in the Premiership has witnessed some form of cheating this season, in a mishmash of guises, and Bruce believes the problem could lie with multi-culturalism.

Cultures colliding have been the root cause of society's ills this century and Bruce is convinced football has fallen foul of the same predicament.

"The Premier League has gained massively over the last 12 years from the input of people like Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona," said Bruce.

"They are great players who we have been fortunate to see because of the Premier League. However, their culture is different. To earn a penalty, in Spain for instance, is an art.

"If you invite the tackle and you go over on that tackle, then they don't see it as cheating; we do in this country.

"Spitting was another one. I remember Cantona being done for spitting and he said 'what's all the problem about?' Our culture's a bit different.

"I know Francis Lee very well, but he was an expert at getting in the box and Andrew Johnson got loads of penalties last year, as well. I am not saying he is a diver, though.

"Drogba handballed it and smashed it in the back of the net and that would happen 100 per cent every week.

"The main problem I think we are up against is the over-reaction and the theatrics of somebody who is not genuinely hurt.

"What we are trying to stamp out is feigning an injury when someone is not quite hurt the way they pretend to be. It is the act of trying to get people yellow and red-carded."

Ever the pragmatist, Bruce is realistic enough to know that minimal contact in the penalty area from a tackle is likely to result in a spot-kick.

However, he insists that his players operate their own form of self-policing where cheating is concerned.

"You don't have to have a quiet word, as his team-mates have a word with him and say that isn't acceptable," said Bruce.

"I can't speak for other people's dressing rooms but we will keep them in check in our dressing room because I have seen it if someone has done something that isn't right."

"As I said before, I think there is a difference between theatrics and feigning injury rather than winning a penalty.

"Attacking people with pace in the penalty area and drawing that foul is an art and some people are very good at it."

Bruce has enough on his plate to worry about with the absence of Muzzy Izzet, David Dunn, Alex Bruce, Medhi Nafti, Jamie Clapham, Chris Sutton, Jiri Jarosik, Matthew Upson and Julian Gray.

Stan Lazaridis and Mario Melchiot are both rated as major doubts as Bruce's numbers are decimated once again.

Lazaridis had an injection in his groin on Monday, but Bruce has drafted Matt Sadler back into the squad once again as cover.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel regarding Sutton, Dunn and I z z e t .

Bruce has rated their chances of appearing against Bolton next Tuesday as 50-50 and will assess their reaction to an intensive training session before delivering his verdict. ..SUPL: