By Walter Broeckx
If the time allows me to work on this I thought the moment appropriate to give you a small update on a few things I have remarked during the reviewing of the referees this season.
First of all those who are following our reviews on referee decisions and the Arsenal games also over here will have noticed the new format we use since this season.
One of the things that comes from using this new format is that the numbers we had from last season are not really comparable to the numbers we have from this season. For me this is something I partially regret as we now cannot say that refs have done better or worse than last season. We will be able to see a bit at the end of the season when we look at some decisions we also had counted in a separate way last season but not for all the major incidents.
Based on my gut feeling I would say the refs have improved compared to last season. But the most critical part of the season is still in front of us, so things can change a lot. But I do have this feeling that refs do seem to be doing a better job. We all can point at individual errors of course and we do this in the reviews but I really am very curious to see the final numbers when we can have access to them.
But there are a few points that I have noticed this season that still need a lot of work. I will talk about it in this and probably a next article as I fear that when I start writing about such things I can hardly stop on time. So what are the points I have noticed that need a lot of work?
1. Interfering with the keeper at a corner or free kick.
By a coincidence the ref in the game West Ham United – Everton cancelled out a goal because a West Ham player was backing in into the keeper. I remember looking at MOTD and hearing the match commentator uttering words that went something like this: “If this really is a foul on the keeper, then the keepers are untouchable”.
Well dear match commentator (don’t know his name): this was a foul and yes according to the rules keepers are untouchable when there is a corner.
For those who want to check the laws of the game I copy from them below:
Offences committed against goalkeepers:
– It is an offence for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
– A player must be penalised for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it
– It is an offence to restrict the movement of the goalkeeper by unfairly impeding him, e.g. at the taking of a corner kick
Now I don’t know with what part of the English language our dear match commentator is struggling but I think this is a very straightforward sentence. And to add a bit more: an obstruction is unfairly impeding. So when a striker backs in to a keeper he is obstructing and restricting the movement of the keeper.
Is it a coincidence we see this foul where Sam Allardyce is the manager? I don’t think so. But the ref who stood up to this was a brave one and he didn’t deserve the stick from the match commentator.
I would urge the people from MOTD to follow a referee course and let their match commentator become referees before talking about the laws of the game. This would prevent them from talking such rubbish and it would mean that the public would really understand the decisions a bit better.
2. Studs towards the face or chest of an opponent
In the same game we had two red cards offences where the ref sent the players off. Both were rather similar cases. In the highlights they showed in fact 3 incidents where a high foot came close or made contact with a head. And I had the impression the people from MOTD couldn’t understand the difference.
Anyone who really knows the rules does know the difference. In one incident a player tried to flick on a high cross and a defender came from behind and went with his head in and the foot was close to the head.
This is a typical case of what I will call a regular foul. The player with the high foot was entitled to go to the ball as he cannot see behind him if a defender will come in with his head. In fact if the defender doesn’t come in or comes near it is no foul. You can control a ball 2 meters high in the air if you want. As long as nobody is around. So in that case it was a foul but certainly not a deliberate one because the playing going high with his foot couldn’t see the opponent when he started going for the ball. Just a regular foul. Nothing more, nothing less.
The other two incidents were incidents where the player going in with his studs high in the air and this time he had his opponent in front of him. If you see an opponent player coming in with his head to the ball at normal head height you simply cannot go to that ball any more with your studs. If you really hit him with the studs on his head he can have a serious head injury. A manager talked about players dying on the field…well if you kick a player with studs on his head then you can have serious accidents. Don’t know you can die from it but the impact can be terrible: skull fractures, broken eye socket, broken nose, broken chin, head wounds, …. the list can go on.
So when you go in towards an opponent in front of you like that you are playing in an excessive dangerous way. And when you play like that you should receive a red card. The possible impact of your action has to be considered. Not the intention, that is something from the past. Maybe a past in which the MOTD people are still hanging around?
More to follow later…
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