By Walter Broeckx
Jack Wilshere has been a naughty boy. And the people from the FA want to punish naughty Jack. Jack has shown his finger towards the City crowd and well…that is something you cannot do. So the fact that they will probably ban Jack for one or two matches is down to him not being clever enough.
I have had similar moments in some matches when the crowd is getting on the back of a player and spouting the most awful things towards his head. And sometimes it can get too much for a player and they might react in a the wrong way.
When I see a player losing it and I am near to it I try to calm him down as a ref or referee assistant. I try to tell them to not react to the provocations from the people and ask him to be smarter than the lunatics behind the fence. So far it usually has helped.
Apparently nobody was close enough to Jack to calm him down at the time and thus his inappropriate reaction. If you make a mistake, you will pay the price. And I have no problem with that. Keeping a cool head is also a valuable asset for any sportsman and Jack clearly is not yet that far in his career to understand that completely. At the age of 21 we all have made mistakes. And in that view Jack is not different than the average 21 year young person on earth. You learn by making mistakes as they say in my country. I think Jack is still learning.
And the lesson to be learned is to never react to the crowd with gestures. You don’t want to enrage football crowds and cause trouble in the stands. So provoking the supporters from another team is not done. And should be dealt by the authorities. And they seem to have a go at Jack.
But there have been other events that looked similar to what Jack did. Events where players tried to provoke real crowd trouble. In the same stadium Adebayor ran the whole length of the pitch to celebrate a goal he had scored at the other end of the field in order to cause all kinds of trouble with the away supporters. Later Adebayor got a 3 match ban…but not for him provoking trouble but for kicking Van Persie in the face in that match.
But in essence I have no real trouble with the fact that Jack could get a suspension. IF and there is a big IF the same goes from now on for all and everyone. But where do we draw the line? Is putting a shushing finger to the crowd after a goal also a provoking finger? For some it might be. So will we now start to punish every player who does this? We might get a few bans then. Not that I am asking for such bans to be honest. It just might be that the FA is opening a can of worms now.
But coming back to being punished for your mistakes as that is likely to happen to Jack (maybe already has at the time of publishing) we should also consider other things.
Let us consider referees making mistakes. Now surely a referee can cause crowd trouble by making mistakes. And it doesn’t even matter if these mistakes are honest or not. People might lose it because of a ref decision that is clearly wrong. And they can cause all kinds of troubles in the stands amongst supporters. Supporters can start throwing things on to the pitch to show their discontent to the ref.
So what will the FA do when refs make mistakes? After all the Jack finger didn’t cause riots, but could have. But what with ref mistakes that could cause riots? Will they also call the ref and ban him from matches? And what when he actually causes riots? Will they then punish the ref?
Let us assume Jack made a mistake. An honest mistake. Something he might have regretted a second after he made his gesture. The FA will ban him for this. But what with the ref his mistake (maybe even dishonest?) will he get a ban for his mistake? We know the answer of course. They will do nothing. And yet his mistakes can cause maybe even more problems in the crowd.
So I would have no problem with banning players for mistakes as long as it goes both ways. In a match that was filled with referee mistakes (around 21 of them all against one team) we make a big problem about one player his mistake and ban him. And the ref who made 21 mistakes and some of them vital and important mistakes will see no problem and faces nothing. The balance is not right there I think.
On the internet I found this picture. And it sums it up quite well. No problem with Jack being banned or cautioned but please dear FA do something about the persons who made more important mistakes than Jack did. Letting players go unpunished for almost breaking a person his leg. Or cancelling out valid goals for not being offside.
But we all know what will happen with the referee and his assistant of course: nothing. They can carry on screwing teams season after season with no punishment at all.
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