Steve Coppell told The Footballers' Football Show that the current furore over simulation in the game has been blown out of proportion.
Earlier this week, Stoke manager Tony Pulis called for retrospective action to be taken against those who are shown to have dived after he accused Liverpool's Luis Suarez of going to ground too easily during their Premier League clash on Sunday.
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has suggested the issue has become a "cancer" for the sport, but former Reading boss Coppell feels there are more prevalent problems in football.
"I personally think that's a ridiculous phrase to use given the number of instances where simulation is supposedly highlighted," he said.
"In any given weekend there will be two or three instances where you will question the integrity of a forward in relation to a challenge.
"There are far more important issues - or issues that happen more often - like corners when defending teams tug on shirts. That happens a hundred-odd times of a weekend and yet one high-profile player who supposedly has been simulating gets all the headlines.
"I think it's a little bit out of proportion myself, but something we need to work upon."
Coppell played as a forward for Manchester United for many years and admits there were occasions when he would go down to try and claim an advantage for his team.
And he says he has sympathy for forwards who are accused of simulation, as well as for referees who have a difficult job trying to rule on the incidents.
"It's so difficult and you have to depend, to a certain extent, on forwards being honest," he said.
"It's an opportunity. You're paid to win games and sometimes if you can anticipate a challenge and you think it's going to be for the benefit of your team, as an ex-forward myself, I can fully understand sometimes that forwards will drag a foot to try and make contact with the goalkeeper or with a defender.
"It's a very hard thing to be right 100% of the time. There are going to be occasions where opportunist forwards are going to anticipate a goalkeeper coming out, take evasive action, nick a goalkeeper's arm and go down.
"Most referees would give that and it's hard to go through the thought process of a forward to see what his intentions actually were.
"I was [guilty of it]. There are certain times when you over-run a ball, you know you're not going to get it and if somebody is close enough then you try to take advantage.
"You say people are trying to eradicate it, but if people are benefitting from the penalty you'll accept it almost."
Coppell is currently Director of Football at Crawley Town following successful managerial stints at clubs such as Reading and Crystal Palace.
He says he has never encouraged players to dive, but would rather they didn't stay on their feet if contact is made by opposition players.
Coppell said: "I must admit that sometimes I have said to players 'you could have gone down there'.
"It's usually when an opportunity was missed, but I don't think I've ever encouraged anyone to go down.
"You're very much aware in the preparation of players now that certain defenders are a little bit more robust than others and there is an opportunity, occasionally, to encourage a foul.
"But I don't think I've ever said to anybody 'if he comes anywhere near you, fall down like a pack of cards.'"