By Walter Broeckx
Much has been made of Shawcross being a nice man and therefore not to blame. And behind this has comes the argument that all the fuss is about nothing because what Shawcross did was a legitimate tackle.
So let us clear this up for once and for all. At least until the next Arsenal player gets kicked to pieces.
To show this is not about my personal opinion I will start with some extracts from the law book and the guidelines that Fifa gives to referees all over the world and so this also is valid for English refs.
From the Fifa rule book and guideline to referees :
Charging an opponent
The act of charging is a challenge for space using physical contact within playing distance of the ball without using arms or elbows.
It is an offence to charge an opponent:
• in a careless manner
• in a reckless manner
• using excessive force
“Using excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent.
• A player who uses excessive force must be sent off.
So let’s take the tackle from Shawcross. He has far exceeded the necessary use of force and has not only brought an opponent in danger, no he actually has injured him. He should have been given a red card and so the ref did the only thing he can do in those circumstances : give him a red card.
However hard you may try to give another explanation to the rules, there is no other explanation possible. He used too much force and injured an opponent by using this force.
Using excessive force is ALWAYS a foul. It can NEVER be legitimate. And if you still think otherwise than I really hope that you are not a ref and have to see for the health of players during a game.
So did ref Walton act correctly AFTER the tackle ? Yes he did. Could he have prevented it ? Yes he could.
If you came to this article only came to read on how the rules are, you can stop right now. But if you want to know how I take on refereeing and try to implement the instructions handed over by Fifa to all the refs in the world you can read on and see in the next game you visit if the ref is considering what I think is the right way to do it.
The main task as a ref is looking after the fact that both teams play within the rules.
You mostly just do this by punishing the fouls you see. Blowing on your whistle when you see a foul happening is just a way of letting someone know that what you are doing there is dangerous or against the law and you will be punished with a free kick and/or a card.
If you do this than you are already on your way to being a good referee. But that is not enough.
One of the most important things of being a ref for me, and this is also the case for every ref, is the fact that you have to feel responsible, not only for the game itself, but also and most important for the safety of everyone involved in the game. This is something that doesn’t attract much attention but it is one of the most important tasks you have as a ref. You have to try to start a game with 22 fit and healthy players and at the end of the game when you still are with 22 fit and healthy players you have done a great job.
Now this is a bit more difficult. Because you have to take notice of something that can be hidden at first sight. It has a lot to do with feeling that “there is something going on”. And sometimes in the games that I referee this can be a very difficult thing to do.
Last year I came to a game and from the first minute I felt that every little foul or even a small push got a heavy reaction from both teams. If you feel this than you have to change your game as a ref and I started punishing every little foul and was running like a madman to be within meters distance where fouls were committed so I could be right in the middle if things should run out of hand.
At half time I asked the one of the officers of the home team what was the matter with this game and he told me that the same fixture last year has been ended with a player being kicked in hospital and as massive fight on the field and even a massive fight in the canteen after the game. Even the police had to come over to arrest some people.
So at that stage I knew what I had already felt that there was something going on. So I had already given a lot of yellow cards and in the second half some players went off with two yellow cards but everything ended in a normal way, no injuries, no fighting on the field or in the canteen.
But when you are a ref in the EPL or in other top leagues you have the luxury that you can be able to know that something could be going on. When a manager or a player openly says in the press that they will kick the others than you know what you can expect and then you have to take this in mind and when you see that they do what they have said you have to stop them at once.
You let those players know that you are there to protect (according the Fifa rules and guidelines) and let them know that they will have to play according to the rules or otherwise you will sent them off the field.
If a team comes out in the open and says that they will kick their opponents you can even call over the captains (always both together) before the game and tell them you will not allow that. And if they do…just punish it like you should.
But even if Walton had no knowledge of this, (it could be that on no-match days he lives on another planet), even then he had to see that it was coming. He let go some tackles before that could have endangered other players but didn’t because of the Arsenal players being able to jump out of the way.
Let me just say that if you throw yourself with two feet at an opponent it is always a foul and even if the opponent escapes by jumping high and doesn’t get touched, it still is a foul.
And I feel that because he let go some earlier possible dangerous challenges (always to be punished by a free kick and a yellow card according the rule book) that after a moment the players feel that they can do whatever they want. And this caused the challenge from Shawcross and where I feel the ref is responsible.
I must say that in my whole career as a ref, I never had such an incident on my playing field. I’d better touch wood now! Yes I had injury’s on my field. Players that have twisted their knees, two players clashing heads in a fair duel and blood pouring out. Those things yes, but never had such tackles on my field because from the moment I see a potential dangerous tackle I stop play even when the player isn’t touched. And when players ask me why I stopped the game, for the last 2 years I have said (in Dutch of course): “No Eduardo on my field” and they all know what I mean and know I will not tolerate those tackles.
And if you now should start thinking : “Walter is the best referee in the world” I can only say: I am not. I can make mistakes, but I will not let dangerous tackles go. I just try to be correct in every game. Maybe it helps me a lot that every time when I put on my socks I have to look at my right leg which has a scar from my ankle that goes up almost to my knee and before every game I look at it and think to myself: “Not on my field”.
Maybe they should only allow refs on the field that have suffered those kind of injuries themselves so that we can ban the dreadful tackles we have seen too much and some even unpunished. Maybe I do my own little crusade as a ref but as long as I don’t have such incidents on my field, I really think I am doing it the right way as Fifa has meant it to be.
The Insanity Files
He said that the wealth lavished on young players is the root of the problems which have flared up recently.
“You do not go off with a fellow’s wife. You do not cheat on your own wife. You do not speed in your car. You do not take money for showing people around the training ground. You do not take photos of yourself naked and send them to nice young ladies.”
“What about fiddling your tax return, being found guilty by the Financial Police, and having another case pending?” asked Untold Arsenal, before we were led out of the press conference.
THE SHAWCROSS DIARIES…
Why Shawcross can’t say, “I didn’t mean it” The legal implications of Shawcross’ violent assault
It is time for a thorough investigation of all that is wrong with football
Tony Attwood immediately after the end of the Stoke game
Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money
Why Stoke type thuggery is not allowed in Spain and Italy
Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views
ARSENAL IN THE PAST…
The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)
Charlie Buchan’s first appearance for Arsenal.
Why Arsenal moved to Highbury (and not somewhere else)
The sound of a billion fans saying “Oh bugger” as football destroys itself is copyright © Untold Arsenal 2010.
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