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By Walter Broeckx
For once I would like to make an exception and talk about a game played by that other club in North London. Not because of the football but because of the fact that in this game I can show why some things are so important when you look at how a ref is doing.
The ref was in the spotlight at White Hart Lane when the local home team played a Greek team in the Europa League. I don’t know how the pundits have reacted to the events involving the ref and I didn’t see the whole game so I have no idea how he did apart from the crucial scenes, but I just want to give my take on this because it highlights something I have been talking about for…how long has it been that you allowed me in Tony?
So my title “the ref got it wrong, totally wrong, utterly wrong but at the end he was right” points at a few decisions and we had the penalty incident and the disallowed goal
Let us start with the penalty incident and this is the most simple. If the ball is stopped on the line by a defender with his arm or hand and he prevents the ball going in goal like that, it is a penalty and a red card. So it is fair to say that the ref considered it to be a deliberate handball and he had in his mind no option but to award a penalty and to send the defender off. We could start an argument about if it really was deliberate or not but the ball was stopped (in the replays I have seen) by the arm and for me the arm was not completely close to his body. Not that he stuck it out very far but sticking it out a bit (and just enough to stop the ball) can be enough for the ref.
In one replay I had the impression that the player changed his mind and tried to take his arm out of the way but he was too late. But I think you can’t blame the ref for taking the decisions (penalty and red card) he did because from his angle he had the impression of a deliberate handball. I haven’t had the luxury to review this from all angles completely but imagine the ref having to decide this in a split second.
Let us move to the disallowed goal because this highlights something I have been saying for ages on this site.
First the facts. Tottenham get a goal scoring chance and a defender stops the ball one meter before the line with the keeper beaten. He pushes the ball along the goal line and Defoe comes rushing in, in an attempt to kick the ball over the line. The defender is quicker and kicks the ball away for a second time. Defoe makes a foul and the defender is brought down and stays down. Play continues and a bit later the ball comes back to Defoe who would have been in an offside position if it hadn’t been for the defender who was still lying on the ground and who didn’t move during the time after the foul and he scores. If you haven’t seen it you can see it over here
The ref disallows the goal and this was done because the ref behind the goal line told the ref a few things through his headset.
So the first wrong decision from the ref was: A foul on a defender should always be given as there cannot be an advantage in such a position. I have said this umpteenth time on this site and this was just a great example of the fact that clearing a ball is not an advantage. Even if the Greek would have kept possession close to their own goal is not an advantage. Because being under pressure close to your own penalty area is not an advantage. So this was a terrible mistake from the ref.
Another wrong decision was the fact that Defoe got away with it without a card.
Some people could argue and say: well he just threw himself in the hope to score a goal. Yes he just threw himself in order to score a goal but nowhere in the laws of the game is there a sentence: you can get away with murder if you think you can score a goal. If you look at the tackle again and certainly from the angle from the camera left behind the goal line you can see that Defoe came in with his feet from the ground, studs showing and throwing himself from a few meters out.
This was not just “a foul”. No this was a terrible foul. And apart from blowing this foul immediately the ref should have gone to this back pocket and give a red card to Defoe. This is some kind of attack you don’t want to see on a football field. Flying in both feet from the ground, studs showing… nasty
And Defoe knew his stupidity immediately. From the moment he hit the defender he apologised for his assault. He stuck up is arms in a gesture indicating: okay, I didn’t meant it this way. Damn right it could have been a leg breaker so every reason to apologise. I can imagine that it wasn’t Defoe’s intention to attack the player and maybe he only had eye for the ball but this was reckless, with too much power and most of all very very dangerous. I think this ticks enough of the boxes to hand out a red card.
But fortunately the ref behind the goal line had seen the incident and most of all he took his responsibility. He used his buzzer and the headset to inform the ref what had happened. And so at the end the ref was right in calling the foul from Defoe and give a free kick to Paok Saloniki
But the ref could and should have made it easier on himself by calling the foul on the defender immediately and not wait a while and then to see that his non-decision cost a goal to the defending team.
And this is something that we do see too often in the EPL that refs let the game continue when a foul is made on a defender. And this despite the fact that (well in my country at least) in the courses for the refs they say this a few times and point at it on many occasions. Just hope Mike Dean is reading this because on a few occasions in the past he has cost us a few goals by not giving a foul on a defender immediately.
In fact it is something that is said at the beginning when a ref takes his first courses so maybe Dean should go back in the next days to such a course and learn a few basic rules again. Maybe the Dutch ref could join in so next time he will stop play when the foul is made on the defender and it will save him a lot of confrontation and arguments.
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