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August 2021

A short explanation of the rules: serious foul play

By Walter Broeckx

In the past I have written a few articles about the rules and how they should be applied. That was in the days I didn’t go out for the complete Referee reviews. And in those days I had a bit more time. But now when we are in the off-season I have a bit more time and I thought that it would be interesting to have a look at an incident that happened in the Belgium Jupiler League last weekend.

The Jupiler League is the PL in Belgium and they started again last weekend. In the first game of the season between FC Brugge- Sporting Charleroi there was an incident in the 21st minute. Timmy Simons an older player who had a career in Belgium, Holland and Germany returned home to his former club Brugge and had only a short time on the pitch.

He got sent off and got a 2 game ban that was later in appeal brought back to a 1 game conditional ban.  But at first there was a lot of commotion about the sending off. To my surprise the Belgium FA has taken a new step and I think this is a great way to educate the public. Maybe the PGMOL and the PL could work together on this and learn a lesson from the Belgium FA when it comes to be open to the public and to explain the rules so that all people know what we are talking about.

The way they did it was with a page on their website that was dedicated on the incident and where they in short explained why the decision of the ref on the field was correct. And they showed a little clip of the incident to make things complete.

If you want to know what I will be talking about in the rest of this article it might be a good idea to have a short look on this. You can see the images if you click on this link

As you will have seen on the website there was some text above and below the video. I will translate this for you as it is only available in Dutch and French as those are the two main languages in Belgium.

So the text above the video is saying:

Review the incidents from the first match day on Belgianfootball and read the explanation from the CSC. (= Central Referee Committee = PGMOL in Belgium)

During the game Club Brugge – Charleroi on July 26 player Timmy Simons (Club Brugge) was sent of in the 21ste minute.

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Then there is the video:

Here is the explanation of the CSC on this incident:

A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent, must be sanctioned as serious foul play and should be followed with a direct exclusion. There is no mention in the rules of voluntary or involuntary.

It really is that simple to come out and explain the rules. Are you watching Mike?

I remember last year when we played Chelsea and in that game we had a similar incident. Where Ramirez did the same on Coquelin.  That day ref Atkinson didn’t give a foul or a red card. And to make things worse seconds later Chelsea scored the opening goal as a result of this not given foul. So instead of Arsenal having to play against only 10 Chelsea players, we ended up 1-0 down and still playing against 11 players.

I then said it like I said it now and some thought I was being biased. I think the current incident in Belgium shows how the rules are applied outside England.

And how the FA and the CSC don’t hide in silence like the PGMOL usually does but comes out in the open and tells the people how the ref should act on the field.  I think this is a great action from the Belgium FA. A second brave and good action after the first action that I mentioned in an earlier article where they formally asked FIFA to be allowed to use video evidence to assist the referee during a game.

If they continue like that I even have to begin to feel proud about the organisation of which I as a referee am part of.  Oh well with the attempts to be more open and to educate the public I do feel proud about it.

So now we will be waiting how the refs and the PGMOL will act with tackles like that in England. I have said it before that planting your studs on the foot or leg of an opponent who is on the floor is very dangerous and can cause serious injuries. Yet on far too many occasions refs have let this go last season. I was very annoyed by that as in Belgium they did punish it like they do it now and in the  last season in the same way as this incident was.

And with this images in mind you yourself who are not referees can come to a better judgement. Not just on players who come in in a dangerous way but you can also judge refs in England and see if they follow the rules as they are applied in other countries.


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The books…

37 comments to A short explanation of the rules: serious foul play

  • soglorious

    Walter, I hope the PGMOL will take a cue from that. But how easy is it to teach a goat the right thing? I bet they’ll never learn cos they believe the football played in England is different from those of the other parts of the world that’s why there is a difference in rules.

  • I dont mind the rules but at the end of every game we should be Winning like the Invincibles.

  • nicky

    I’ve long held the view that really serious foul play should be dealt with through the Courts as grievous bodily harm, rather than internally via the football authorities.
    Players like Barton and Shawcross would have had a custodial punishment to match their crime, rather than a mere suspension and a paltry fine.
    And the vicious assault made by Roy Keane on the Man City player Inge, captured on video, was so blatant that to leave the punishment to the FA was lenient in the extreme.
    In these days of soaring wages, a fine means nothing while a suspension is regarded as a mid-season holiday in the sun.
    Treat serious foul play under the law of the land, as an assault against the person, because that is what it is.

  • Micko

    Why was the 2 game ban reduced to 1 on appeal, when he quite clearly meant to stamp on the other player ?

  • WalterBroeckx


    One of the frustrating things for referees. You do correct on the field and then the old people (literally) bend their back for each appeal done by a big club.

    The ban is not down to the referee. He has nothing to say about the length of a ban in Belgium. It is just another committee that does these things.

  • Va Cong

    Walter as brilliant idea as that sounds there is way too much money in the premier league to be transparent. Especially with all the dodgy betting going on! But well done the Belgium FA! Unless the rules are showcased in a video by video text with pictures where anybody can access to see the rules with words and pictures and the public educated. That would make a change but what would the articulate newspapers and expert pundits do for a living?!

  • Va Cong

    Oh if that did happen we would just demolish everyone with sexy football! LOL

  • uk

    and walter, you say the AAA love to whinge? what’s with the ramires issue?

  • WalterBroeckx

    I really can’t remember having used in in each article to be honest and I think I have written some 100 articles since that day. I think this will be the third time I talk about it.

    I wonder when the first AAA will come and start saying: this is all fine and well but Wenger has to go because he hasn’t won anything in 8 years blah blah blah’.
    Even when it has nothing to do with the subject of the article

  • rantetta

    Yes Walter. Brilliant article.

    I keep thinking about that assault by Ramires on the Coq, and then the goal scored within seconds at the other end. Ref Atkinson wasn’t too far from the incident AND HE SAW IT, and ignored it. I repeat – HE IGNORED IT.

    It just so happens that ref Atkinson has a history of dodgy decisions in Chelsea’s favour, not to mention a seeming choice of reffing big Chelsea matches. Didn’t he ref BOTH Arsenal matches against Chelsea in ONE season? What do Arsenal players think when they see Atkinson’s reffing the game, or Dean doing both Ars-Tott matches in one season (2012/13?, Sagna’s leg broken by Asso Ekott, Van der fart handball for goal, 2-1 to Totts, Bale dive for penalty, 5-2 to Arsenal. Man, it goes on and on).

    This tackle on Coq by Ramires is what I alone call a “set piece”. What I mean by this is that these assaults on the ankle or shin are regularly visited on Arsenal’s players without punishment. Essien gave one to Diaby a couple of years back. It was vicious… and unpunished. (Clattenburg?, can’t remember). Barton has licence to do this, it seems. Remember Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4? where phat Phil started twisting the match with only 15-20 mins played? (RvP sandwiched… foul to Newcastle). Well, Barton smashed Diaby’s ankle but happened not to break it on that occasion. Diaby got up and reacted by pushing the ****, and then pushing another – who’d weighed in with some verbals (I can only imagine what the Toon players were saying to Diaby). Of course, in typical fashion, Diaby was sent off. Who committed the initial assault? Did Sky or BBC condemn Barton’s assault?
    Did they ****! No, they still have it down as “Greatest ever Premier League match”. Bollocks!

    Barton again: Kicks Gervinho while defending Newcastle penalty area. Obvious penalty to Arsenal. Ref turns his back After seeing the incident. Barton grabs Gervinho by lapels, assisted by another Newcastle player (or 2). In the ensuing psuedo-melee, Gervinho gets a half-slap on Barton. Gervinho gets sent off.

    In the same match Barton assaults Song’s ankle. Song escapes the vicious attempt and steps – without force, on Barton’s ankle. The commentators rage (about Song, of course), and Song’s serves a retro ban. There was much refcrap in that match, and here’s the reason: Arsenal were to play at Old Toilet. Pure and simple. Set it up so ManU have a better chance, as they are rarely “flying” at the beginning of the season. Result – Gervihno and Song banned, other Ars players had left, Ars field weakened team, Webb is reffing (though he wasn’t as terrible as usual), 8-2.

    The set piece is where some player assault an Arsenal player and the ref ignores it. I’ve seen this happen again and again, and the man who sits at the head of this shambles is the one and only Mike Riley:

    So, Walter, this is why your article is brilliant, and you’re right to be proud of the Belgium FA. Someone, somewhere has to put an end to the refshite and allow players to play, and thugs to be punished, properly, even if retrospectively.

    @Va Cong. Your comments – spot on.

    @Nicky, I can only dream about assault being treated as assaults – in court. Yes.

    @Bootoomee – What I’ve written above is just a smidgen of information as to why I believe many of our results over many years, come down to more than “luck”. Mind you, as you made clear in your brilliant article, you don’t really read Walter’s ref stuff, innit? (That’s not intended as a slight on you, just a further explanation to my comments about your article.

    Forward, Arsenal.

  • rantetta

    @uk – Ramires committed several fouls in that match. He should have been sent off. Instead, he was named MOTM! Make the effort and watch the whole game. (I know you won’t) Bah!

  • rantetta

    And following the assault by Ramires I’m not sure the Coq played for Arsenal again. Could it be that the match result destroyed Francis’s confidence, and (temporarily), his ankle?

  • Rufusstan

    @UK — I am assuming that Walter is using it because it is very similar to the incident in the article and shows the inconsistency in refereeing.

    If you actually remember the game, the Coq was dribbling the ball out of defense, Ramires rushed in to tackle, the Coq tried to nick the ball away to Cazorla, just after he made the pass, Ramires trod all over his foot.

    The Ref did nothing, the pass was rushed so Cazorla couldn’t get it. Chelsea get the ball, break forwards, catch us off balance, and 10 seconds later Mata puts the ball away.

    What winds me (and clearly Walter) up is that Ramires commits a clear foul in the middle of the pitch, the ref ignores it, and Chelsea take full advantage. Remember that this is 5 minutes into the game.

    (By the way, assuming you are a member, go have a look at the game on the club website. Its in the bitesize highlights.)

    Personally, I don’t see the Ramires one as a straight red, because he is not particularly late, but again Walter knows far better than me, but it is absolutely a foul.

    By the way Walter, I’ve got my head around the idea that intent is no issue in the awarding of cards, but do the authorities still take that sort of thing into consideration when looking at appeal?

    My thought is that other than the fact that he is about 6 months late into the challenge, it isn’t particularly violent, and he argued that he made the foul simply because he couldn’t stop in time.

  • Rufusstan

    And considering that UK’s post was the last when I started writing mine, it seems it winds just about everyone up 🙂

  • Rupert Cook

    I know this is not relevant to your article Walter so apologies but I thought some might like to hear the latest transfer news from a reliable source.

    The board are willing to go to 50 million for Suarez. Wenger wants to stick with the 40 million offer as he believes he’ll get Suarez in the end.

    Tension between Wenger and Gazidis over targets. Wenger gave his A,B,C options for certain positions to Gazidis and in some cases big bids were made but as time has passed Wenger is sticking to his A list targets and may go to the wire in an attempt to get them even if the B and C options are lost due to too late bids or other teams get them.

    Suarez and Cesc are the main reason for our lethargy in the transfer market as Wenger wants both, there’ll be no movement on other signings until these two A listers are either got or given up on.

    Gazidis feels the majority of fans will turn on him if major signings don’t happen and he’s not pleased.

  • WalterBroeckx

    on the field intent has to be no issue for the ref. He only has to judge if a tackle can injure a player or not. If it could (it doesn’t have to injure him at all but just the chance it might happen is enough) then he should give a red card.
    Last season I have seen even red cards given where there wasn’t even contact between the players (luckily there wasn’t) but because of the chance that if there would have been contact we could see broken legs the red cards were given.

    O, I didn’t see it in England of course.

    About the punishment. In Belgium they have a committee that does the punishment. And they can take in account circumstances that might lead to a smaller ban or a bigger ban. There is no fixed rate in Belgium for a red card. They look at each incident in particular.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Very nice Walter , this should be adopted by the boards of all the countries to ensure that justice is seen to done without bias of any manner of finger pointing .
    While I don’t think the EPL would be rushing to implement it any time soon , it would even out things somewhat if the clips of the incident be put up on responsible blogs or forums .
    If there are issues of copyright in the usage of these clips, I would suggest that some type of animation ( for the want of a better term )clip be used .
    With the advancement of technology in gaming , it could be done .Again the aim is to see that justice be done .

  • Rufusstan

    Thanks Walter, that was what I was wondering, (just checking) that circumstances should have no impact on the card, but might affect the punishment. (and I agree with the sentiments about the no contact stuff. Having seen too many actual leg-breakers in recent years, I’d rather red-card one that missed, than go through that again).

    @Rupert having just replied to something similar of yours on one of the earlier threads, you remind me of the point that I forgot.

    That is that part of the tension comes from the fact that after Wenger has had to scrimp and compromise for years on signings due to our financial position, now there is enough money, he is the one digging in his heels demanding we buy quality. — Instead of him being the miser who will not spend (as the usual media portrayal).

  • Rufusstan

    @Brickfields. Interesting thought, and considering has 4+ years worth of games freely accessible to members, I cannot see that the PL or SKY would have issues with short clips.

    I was going to suggest they could host them and let the media freely link to them so they retain control, but to be honest it may well cost them more in bandwidth than what they’d lose in releasing the clips. Add a proviso that usage is granted in the context of the ref decision, and everyone would be legally covered.

  • uk

    do you mean its ok to call them whingers only in the comments, but go ahead and whinge about every other thing(refs,sugar daddies,fifa,uefa,barca and its players,real madrid and higuain, ac milan and their pitch,shawcross,pulis, the press, le grove,AAA and the new world order, etc) in your articles?
    @other AKBs,
    i watched the match saw the ramires tackle(as well as being beaten by a better side), i also watched our match against bolton 3/4 years and the horrendous tackle by gallas on ???bolton player. i think owen coyle called it attempted murder? well both tackles went unpunished, i dont hear bolton fans whinging about it

  • bjtgooner

    The non relevant “scoop” reported by rupert (depressive AAA sewer rat) has been plagiarized from another site – obviously one that posts in his sewer.

    Nice article Walter.

  • Stuart

    Would Chelsea have played as well with only 10 on the pitch?

  • Stevie E

    I guess it was only a matter of time Rupert added ITK to know it all. Name your source Ruppy or your comments will be added to the bullshit pile. By the way, a newspaper is not a source 😉

  • uk

    i dont know. all i know is that we were beaten. and that bad calls go against us sometimes, other times they favor us. we want to whinge? every other team can do so. then we’ll all just be a group of whingers. that would be okay until one group of whingers begin calling another group “whingers”

  • Stuart

    I think it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t have. We get less than our fair share of these situations in our favour.

  • WalterBroeckx

    or some group (non existing of course) calls us deluded…

  • Mick

    Didn’t Ramirez ‘win’ an ify penalty in the same match by dangling his trailing leg so it caught the defender, or was that a different game? I seem to remember on MOTD that even they said it was clever play by Ramirez to basically con the ref.

  • Pat

    Impressive from Belgium.

    Hope the PL follow their lead.

    I especially like the bit where it says the rules make no mention of voluntary or involuntary.

    How many TV pundits excuse fouls with, “Oh he didn’t mean to do it!”

    Irrelevant except in the case of hand ball, I believe.

  • uk

    well i wasnt saying there shouldnt be insults. folks can lnsult themselves all they want. all im saying is, if you gonna call someone a whinger, you damn well shouldnt whinge, if you do, its just gonna come around and bite ya in the arse

  • Goona Gal

    @ Walter – It would be much better if you simply ignored ‘uk’.

  • Va Cong

    You clearly love the ref reviews here then… hole point was to show there “Oh it balances out the rest of the season”

  • weedonald

    What is a whinge or a whinger? I always assumed whining and whiner were the correct spelling but maybe the likes of UK have their own AAA dictionaries?
    Is making a valid observation, revealing a sincere concern, highlighting a crucial issue or similar open dialogue, whining?
    IMHO, a whine is what UK does when he hasn’t anything to back up his arguments but persists in making that ¨waaaahhhhhhhhh¨ sound that babies do when they have filled their diapers.

  • Florian


    I can answer for rantetta, at least in part. Yes, it was Ramires in the same match, he slipped in front of Szczesny while he was tackling him, so he was on his way to the ground long before Chez reached him. It was actually more a case of Ramires*** falling on Chez’s leg than the other way around. I’ll leave the comments to rantetta though, he’s much better than me at this kind of thing:)

  • uk

    lol @weedonald
    go check your dictionary, then whinge some more

  • uk

    the season will soon start, i bet the refs are shitting their pants cos weedman has his eyes on them

  • uk

    really? i stopped reading the ref reviews sometime ago, especially after our match against man city, where the ref was bashed on here for the kos sending off

  • Stuart

    Sorry to go off subject but I thought people may find this interesting: