Bending the laws of the game

By Walter Broeckx

The laws of the game and the interpretation of the laws of the game are two totally different things. And certainly the interpretation given by the pundits. Anyone who thinks that pundits know the rules are people who believe in Santa Claus, the fairy tooth even when they have gotten to an age that most of us know they don’t really exist.

Now the pundits said that tumble nr. 19 from Robben was a penalty ‘because there was contact’. Now what is strange is that there is nothing in the rule book that says: that contact = foul. Now let us for the sake of it hold the pundits opinion and apply this:  player goes down – there was some contact = penalty.

So how many penalties will we have in each match? At least one penalty with every corner we have. And at least one penalty with every time a free kick is being dropped in the box. As there is always contact in such situations and there is almost a player going down in such situations. Yet none of these pundits take it that far. Why? Of course we know why. Because there is no such rule. It is all made up stuff.

And more importantly made up stuff to fit the agenda. Remember the first match of the season? In that match Wilshere tried to run to a ball but was stopped in his run by a defender that stretched out his arm to block Wilshere. Wilshere went down. There was clear contact. So a definite penalty? Oh no not according to the pundits. They didn’t even comment on the incident. Yet in this incident there was not just contact. No there was a foul. Sticking out your arm to prevent a player to run to a new position is a foul. But as you know there is one rule for all and one for the Arsenal.

Let us take another example. The Arsenal – Chelsea match. Walcott turns his man in the penalty area, Willian (If I remember correctly) plants his foot on the foot of Walcott who goes down. In the penalty area.

Again we take the pundits logic first. Player goes down + there is contact = penalty. Yet that time the pundits entered a new phrase to the laws of the game. It goes like this: “There wasn’t enough contact”. Now things are getting difficult don’t you think so? Remember we are just following the pundits and their way of thinking. Suddenly it is not just contact but it also has to be enough contact.

Yet I again I search the official laws of the game and I really cannot find this ‘there has to be enough contact’ that the pundits let loose on their audience. So once again I can only come to the conclusion that they try to tell us lies. Or that they don’t know the laws of the game. But if they don’t know them, then what are they doing there? A good excuse to be away from their wives and being well paid for it.

Now if we examine the Walcott incident according to the laws of the game we can only say that Walcott went past his man with a crochet, the defender tried to stop him from going past him and kicked him on his foot. He kicked his standing leg away and that is a foul. So according to the laws the Walcott incident was a foul and thus a penalty. But according to the pundits laws it wasn’t. Why this difference dear pundits?

I could give other examples. Like the WBA penalty incident. Where Lumumbu (I think) came crushing in from behind on Wilshere and went completely through Wilshere and then after bringing Wilshere down he made contact with the ball.

We all remember the pundits view of it. No penalty they said because ‘he got the ball’. Now of course refs can be lenient when a player makes a tackle and clearly gets the ball but after that the players tangle a bit and the other player goes down as a result of the fact that the player making the tackle cannot stop his sliding. To make sure we understand each other I am talking about a sliding tackle from the side. Not a tackle from behind because when you then make contact with the player it is a foul certainly when going trough him.

Or the dangerous frontal tackle. You know the Flamini tackle at Southampton? The red card. Yeah, that’s the one.

In the WBA match the tackle was from behind, both legs clamping around the legs of Wilshere, bringing him down. No penalty according to the pundits as he finally made contact with the ball. But let us go back to the pundit laws of the game as they dish them out when it fits their agenda. Lets examine it their way: Wilshere goes down + there is contact = penalty. But no there wasn’t they said at the time.

So it is all getting a bit confusing if we want to listen to the pundits to get an explanation of the laws of the game.

So to understand the laws of the game as the pundits do it seems that you just have to remember this: If an Arsenal player goes down we look for any excuse to not call it a foul. If an Arsenal player is close to another player going down it must be a foul. It seems that this is their interpretation of the laws of the game. It is as if they agreed to look at it that way. And all towing the line of course.

Isn’t it strange?


To finish this article about fouls I will link you to a little clip and we might add a little quiz to it.


For those who remember the incident from out match against Bayern. The question is :

a) how many fouls there has been made in this clip

b) and what the decisions from the ref should have been.

c) And finally what did the ref make of it.

Answers in the comments section. The winner gets a kiss from me or Tony whenever we see each other at an Arsenal match. Come on ladies, this is your chance.

70 Replies to “Bending the laws of the game”

  1. As frustrating as it is, the laws of the game state:

    A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

    kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
    trips or attempt to trip an opponent
    jumps at an opponent
    charges an opponent
    strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
    pushes an opponent
    tackles an opponent

    A penalty is awarded if any of the above offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area.

    i missed out a few words, but those are the laws!

    reading them again i am surprised there are not 20 or 30 penalties awarded every game!

  2. Yes, Walter.

    Great article. You’ve hit the nail on the head. (Penalty against you, no?).

    I love this “you’re the ref” type article. A certain poster the other day wrote of the plundits, something like, ‘they’re just saying what they see”.

    Well, you poster, who comes with uber-negativity, this article highlights just a smidgen of what it takes to be employed by those who’ll pay.

    I’ll leave the competition to others. The answers are so easy, I’m surprised there isn’t an expensive phone number to ring. That’s what the TV companies would do.

    Those plundits don’t half talk some shit!

    I’ll maybe give you a kiss when we meet anyway. Just as appreciation for your wonderful articles.

  3. Walter, I have been saying it for years. Sun clause 8b written in invisible ink to every rule in the book “UNLESS AN ARSENAL PLAYER IS INVOLVED”

    Look out for examples on Sunday.

  4. BRILLIANT!!!so happy i discovered this blog…it has taught so many things in a short span of time that i thought i knew too well!!! ThankYou 🙂

  5. As arsenal fans we interpret 50/50 decisions as unfair when they go against us, just like the fans of every other club.

    That means we see bigger injustice when some decisions are made which are clearly wrong

    That doesn’t mean there is some sort of conspiracy against arsenal

  6. Andrew,
    I’m completely disinterested in that match on Sunday since I know the ref. That appointment is just a middle finger gesture from Mike Riley to all that is Arsenal.
    Expect at least one Arsenal player to be send off (strictly to the letter of the laws of course) and on penalty against Arsenal. Dean at the lane FFS….

  7. Welcome to Untold, NepaleseGooner, that’s how I felt too when I discovered this site. Don’t think I did anything else that day 🙂

    Interesting read Walter. The pundits are clueless. The only person who makes sense most of the time and clearly doesn’t come across as towing the line is Roy Keane. Sadly, I think he’s too honest to be employed by the likes of Sky/BT.

    Here’s my take of your little quiz;

    1. Two fouls were committed, a dive and a handball by the same player

    2. The ref should have blown for a free kick against robben and booked him for diving.

    3. Think the ref just waved play on.

  8. First things first Walter. My tooth fairy is coming to sort you out !!
    Robben should have been yellow carded for simulation, mind you if he always got a yellow for simulation, he wouldn`t be on the field long
    Reading through Baz`s rules of the game ” Jumps at an opponent”, why is it that when Robben jumped at Szczesny with foot raised studs showing he got given a penalty and Szczesny got red carded,was the keeper playing for the wrong team ?
    I know I have a thing about this, but at the time I went through the Robben jumping red card (in slow motion, replay not me) and Szczesny was almost stationary “when Robben hit him” If anyone has the facility to watch the first game again and see the “collision”, I would be interested to see their view. I have been known to be biased, but I watched this a couple of times
    So jump at an opponent Baz I`m sorry, you must have made that up

    One of the things you haven`t mentioned but implied, is the pratts who are doing the punditry are catering for another bunch of pratts who haven`t got a clue what they are watching, just so long as it`s exciting
    I`ve found the off switch on the sound quite useful and if I watch Football especially on ITV and SKY, I have to remember where the sound is when the programme is over
    In a similar vane, I rarely read the other blogs because they are catering for a bunch of morons. Your trouble is you must be over 21 and can think like a grown-up
    Here though, If your over 21, how come you remember tooth fairies, I can just remember my teeth

    Keep up the good work, your blogs are magic and so are most of the replies, I`m just trying to prove the exception

  9. Walter, I know and will also avoid the game as I’m away for the weekend. Tony has the ref preview

  10. Spot on Walter.
    I went to Munich again this year and was not surprised at all by Robben’s tactics. In the UK there is a major problem with insurance fraud where a driver deliberately cause an accident to make false insurance claims.
    I liken Robben’s and other cheats to fraud which by definition is a ‘deliberate deception practised in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain’. By any interpretation Robben and the like are guilty of fraud.

  11. Looking forward to it Andrew.
    I will watch it of course as I watch every match but in the knowledge that Dean will do all he can to f*ck us…

  12. All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.
    Scott Alexander

    I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.

    In England, footballers are respected more, the game is more noble, there’s less cheating. Every Spaniard who goes loves it – and comes back a better player. If I had ever left, it would have been to England.


  13. ” The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.”
    ― Cheryl Hughes

    ” When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves-they threaten their own self-esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true.”
    ― Cheryl Hughes

  14. @emoticons

    Sorry, OT.

    Jambug was asking about smilies, and since UA is a wordpress site, it just dawned on me that wordpress might know what smilies could be allowed. In configuring a wordpress site, the owner can allow or disallow some set of smilies. It looks like wordpress has 23 smilies defined.

    If correct, then 8 ) and 8 – ) and : c o o l : should give me 3 smilies wearing sunglasses (and it’s not even night).

    8) 😎 😎

    Which hopefully should help all of you, in picking the right smilie for the job.

    It looks like there is a smilie there for Mike Riley and his pals 😈

  15. Great write up walter.

    My contribution as mentioned by me a few times on here already.

    Arsenal v man Utd at the Ems.

    Giurod goes into the box. Gets shoved to the ground from behind. CONTACT !! It was a blatant shove.

    Owen: “No, there’s not enough for me”

    So when it suits, brushing a calf with a feather is enough. A blatant shove in the back isn’t.

    God these pundits wind me up. What’s worse some of our own can’t even see it, read ‘g’ above.

  16. Gord,
    how do you get that Mike Riley smiley? 🙂 not this one of course but the angry looking one.

  17. Jambug

    That’s funny. Walter showed me how to make smileys years ago. I’ve forgotten, of course. And I’ve got a “users” certificate, having completed a computer course years ago. I still can’t fathom excel, despite having learnt it.

    I try to copy and paste:


    Drat. Don’t think that works either. Bah.

  18. rantetta.

    I’ve heard about this cut and paste business !!

    Doesn’t it involve Newspapers, scissors, and a scrap book? Or is that something else?

  19. Walter,
    Slightly off topic, if, when a corner or free kick is taken high into the goal area, an attacker was lifted up by his colleagues to meet the ball (like rugby players do at throw-ins) would it be allowed?

  20. Jambug

    When you see my failed attempts, at 4:46, you’ll understand when I say: Dunno.

    Prior to your posting “ameobe”, which I had to look up, I was about to write, Gord, please make an article called Smileys for Dummies.

    Nicky, that Q to Walter – I’ve wondered that for years. Whether lifting your teammate is allowed or not, I can imagine Dean giving a pen against Ars for that one. (Incompetent smiley face).

    I’d tried to copy 3 rolling smiley faces from email, and then I posted the result to be published on these pages. Imagine what wanky self-kudos I might’ve gotten into if it’d worked?

  21. @ rantetta

    As you could tell, even though I knew what I meant I couldn’t spell it and relied on ‘spell check’. Bad idea, but you got the idea !!

    @ Gunz

    Show off 😉

  22. Where as holding somebody down falls under the ‘depends who you play for’ rule.

  23. @Jambug,
    Re your 6.21, that’s my guess too but I would like to hear the view of the learned Walter.

  24. Nicky that should be interpreted as unsporting behaviour. Foul at the place where the player was lifted and yellow card for cheating. It is the same as diving in fact.

    I seem to remember that it is allowed in rugby as I think I have seen it done over there? That is why football is different from rugby. Well most of the time 😉 It should be at least 🙂

  25. about the emoticons I just found this.
    I have put a space in between the different signs and then I tried to see if wordpress recognises it and turns it in to the emoticon….

    : ) = smiley 🙂
    : ( = frown 🙁
    : ‘ ( = frown with tear/cry :'(
    ^ _ ^ = “Kiki” ^-^
    < ( " ) = penguin <(") ( ^ ^ ^ )= shark (^^^) - _ - = bored smiley -_- : p = rude :p O . o = confused O.o : / = DUH! :/ : * = kissy face :* < 3 = heart <3 3 : )= happy devil 3:) : putnam : = Chris Putnam (no capital!) :putnam: : v or : V or ( : \ / ) = pacman :v or :V or (:\/) : | ] = robot :|] : D = really happy 😀 > _ < = annoyed >_< > : ( = angry >:(
    > : o = excited >:o
    8 ) = nerdy glasses guy 8)
    B – | = cool shades B-|
    ; ) = wink 😉
    : 3 = Anime cute smile :3
    : 42 : = white 42 on red ground :42:
    ♥ = Heart,Copy and paste that heart shape for a heart emoticon!
    < 3 = It also works,but as the same as the last one <3 ( Y ) = thumbs up (Y) O : - ) = Angel O:- ( ^ ^ ^ ) = shark (^^^) Ok and now press post commend and see if it works?

  26. The problem with all the smileys is that there could be security issues if characters are joined together. Well many are harmless, but there is something inside WordPress/whatever platform that filters it out.

    So.. yes you can do as Walter says and separate smileys – but it won’t get auto-converted into a smiley – it will remain as text.

    So.. a colon [:] immediately followed by a round closing bracket [ ) ] is actually a smiley 🙂 but that’ll get filtered. So you have to separate both with a space like this – : )

    I expect nothing from Sunday by the way – Spurs lost too today, so hopefully we can win despite Mike Dean.

  27. @Gord, Walter

    Mike Riley is : t w i s t e d : 😈

    looks awfully like his wanna-be successor to the head of the evil empire known as PGMOL.

    Mike Dean is : e v i l : 👿

    : l o l : 😆

  28. Nicky…..using an opponent or a teammate to jump higher by pushing off from his or her shoulder, or any other part of the their body is against the Law as is being supported b y a teammate in the air and as Walter said,is punishable by an indirect free kick and if the referee considers it bringing the game into disrepute, and is unsporting conduct-a caution as well.
    When I was in Germany,I read a German FA study which evaluated the players, fans and managements’ knowledge of the Laws. It indicated that there was only a 25% chance that a professional could pass a basic test on the Laws of the game! They didn’t assess the media because they probably thought that they couldn’t give a negative% for the results.

  29. OMGArsenal

    Sadly, 25% is probably a lot more than most of our Referees would get.

    My take on it is they would pretty much match the Media score as they both seem to operate to the same, rather warped, interpretation of the rule book !!!!

  30. lets begin with the word ‘Pundit’. This is a Sanskrit word meaning, a person who has complete knowledge of the holy books, the one , who is clean in thought and in deed. A person who is capable of making changes in the society of the good of mankind. the people we are referring to our ex-players, that’s all. U cannot even say that they are ‘expert commentators’, because they are not experts of their field. we need to refer them as ‘guest’ or just ‘commentators’. as for their view, know that they all talk through their arse. they change their stand to suit their own need. just like moving the goal post. reminds me of my boss. when u seem to think u have done everything for that raise, the goal is moved.

  31. Gouresh

    And just when you thought they couldn’t run the place any worse…..they get a bonus !!!!

  32. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 0

    To Jambug and others.

    I’m an autistic engineer, who is nominally self taught in computers. Being autistic, I have no life outside of studying. Everything I do gets studied, as the only way I can tell if someone is lying to me is superior knowledge. Technically, I am Asperger’s, as I don’t have the language deficit.

    That said, I know 10 operating systems and having working knowledge of 60 computer languages. And I’ve done a lot of practical stuff, such as blacksmithing.

    So, if you don’t understand something, ask questions. I’ll try another approach.

  33. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 1

    This is not well researched, and is kind of folksy. It takes liberties with the truth in places.

    Our current alphabet has 26 characters in 2 cases, for a total of 52. We have 10 digits, for a total of 62. We have a comma, a period, a question mark, an exclamation mark, semi and full colons, for a total of 68. We have left and right parentheses, left and right braces, left and right square brackets, and left and right angle brackets, for a total of 76. What is left for printable characters is: single quote, double quote, back quote, slash, backward slash, pipe symbol, plus, equals, minus, underscore, asterisk, ampersand, caret, percent sign, dollar sign, sharp (octothorpe), at symbol and tilde, for a total of 94.

    Computers are inherently binary, they are just a bunch of on/off switches. The number system consisting solely of 0 and 1, is called binary (base 2). If I start counting from 0 in binary: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, and so on. If we raise 2 to the 6th power, we get 64, which is less than 94. If we raise 2 to the 7th power, we get 128, which is more than 94.

    All of our printable characters are going to be numbers. We have available 128 codes, and we have only allocated 94, leaving us 34 codes for other things. We need a character to indicate a space, we have found that a tab character is useful. It has often been true that a formfeed is useful. Not all of us are perfect, so having a character to delete is useful.

    We have had more than 1 encoding of these kinds of things (ASCII versus EBCDIC).

    At the beginning of the Internet (Arpanet, BITnet, …) there was mostly just a single characterset and language used: US-ASCII and US-English. I am speaking of the 7 bit ASCII, not 8 bit.

    As characters were transported in 8 bit containers (called bytes, and half a byte is a nibble), people found things to do with that 8th bit that had nothing to do with the character involved. When MS-DOS (and others) came along, and decided to extend ASCII to 8 bit, this use of the 8th bit for other things had to change.

    The upper half of 8 bit ASCII, had things like happy faces in it, probably because they would be of use in games in the USA. If the upper half of 8 bit ASCII would not have been used for cute things like happy faces, it is possible that there was room for a good number of the special characters used in western European languages. But, there was never any hope of representing all characters used by humans in 8 bits.

  34. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 2

    One of the places where computer science developed, was the research labs of Bell Telephones (now defunct).

    I would imagine the source is research within Bell Labs, but somebody figured out that about the longest phone number that was readily remembered by the majority of the population is 7 or 8 digits long. Breaking this up into 2 nearly equal parts is how we got 3+4 phone numbers within an area code. I think most people actually remember the entire area code as a single “digit”, which means our 3+4 phone numbers were 8 digits, about the limit for most people. With the explosion of area codes in North America, there are many cities which have different area codes for different parts of the subcountry (province or state), or even the city.

    I have met people that knew ASCII in binary, but it was more common to meet people that knew ASCII in octal, decimal or hexadecimal (base 8, 10 or 16). For example, 1111 in binary is 17 in octal, 15 in decimal and F in hexadecimal.

  35. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 3

    In the early days, most of the countries with large representation in computers were working with character sets which would fit in 8 bits, and so we evolved many different character sets. And doing things like storing data, meant we needed to store the character set designation as well, otherwise we had no way to read the data.

    8 bits is 1 byte. Not too long ago, a different approach was started called UTF-8. UTF-8 can use between 1 and 6 bytes (8?) to represent every symbol of written language by humans on Earth. The old 7 bit US-ASCII holds a priviledged position, and can be presented in 1 byte characters. For pretty much every thing else, part of the first byte is a flag and another part is a counter, so that the first byte of a character can say how big (how many bytes) that character is.

    While US-ASCII lost the happy faces and other assorted characters in the upper half, apparently people have found room in UTF-8 for similar characters.

    Part of the problem with all these encodings of character sets, is sorting. Sorting numbers is easy: 1 comes before 2. We are representing letters (or symbols, in pictographic languages) with numbers. Ideally, the design of an encoding takes into consideration how strings are sorted for that character set. In languages such as ‘C’, we can calculate ‘b’ – ‘a’, and we find it is 1. What should ‘A’ – ‘a’ be? should it be positive or negative? Some languages have what I am going to call diacritical marks, there may be a better name for this. Does an “O” with 2 dots over it come before or after an “O” with a bar or squiggle over it?

  36. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 4

    Which is about where we are today.

    Okay, you could live anywhere on Earth, and point your browser at UntoldArsenal. Your browser does a “handshake” with the web server that is in charge of UntoldArsenal, and as a result of this, it knows that your browser may have preferences as to what character sets it will accept, and one of those character sets has been chosen. While not all web sites are set up internally as UTF-8, it probably makes little difference whether it is, or we are just assuming it is. The webserver either serves us content that was previously set aside in your character set, or it translates on the fly from UTF-8 to what you desire (which could be UTF-8).

    When the web server is copying information from its storage to send to you, it can notice places where a “smiley” has been asked for. The string version of the Mike Riley smiley is 9 characters long. And what it does, is replace those characters with the HTML Image tag, with the URL part pointing at a specific 16×16 (I am guessing the size) picture. As at least one of the smileys “moves”, I will guess the image itself is a GIF (as animated GIFs are not too hard to make).

    I see on the wordpress site, that it is possible for bloggers to choose different smiley support, or even create new support. I suspect UntoldArsenal will be sticking to fairly vanilla emoticon support.

  37. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 5

    I see that Walter tried to produce a chart, even after I posted the URL to the wordpress chart. I also noticed that at least one of the things that was supposed to work, didn’t.

    Just looking at some of the chart, I can see good reasons for some of these not working, they were poorly thought out to begin with.

    : ) 🙂 : – ) 🙂 : s m i l e : 🙂
    : D 😀 : – D 😀 : g r i n : 😀
    : ( 🙁 : – ( 🙁 : s a d : 🙁
    : o 😮 : – o 😮 : e e k : 😮
    8 0 😯 8 – 0 😯 : s h o c k : 😯
    : ? 😕 : – ? 😕 : ? ? ? : 😕
    8 ) 8) 8 – ) 😎 : c o o l : 😎
    : x 😡 : – x 😡 : m a d : 😡
    : P 😛 : – P 😛 : r a z z : 😛
    : | 😐 : – | 😐 : n e u t r a l : 😐
    ; ) 😉 ; – ) 😉 : w i n k : 😉
    : l o l : 😆
    : o o p s : 😳
    : c r y : 😥
    : e v i l : 👿
    : t w i s t e d : 😈
    : r o l l : 🙄
    : ! : ❗
    : ? : ❓
    : i d e a : 💡
    : a r r o w : ➡
    : m r g r e e n : :mrgreen:

    I would suggest, for which ever ones display properly, that if you are given a choice between the pure ASCII text versions, and a more verbose version that is between full colons, use the more verbose version.

  38. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 6

    In Part 1, we found that 7 bit ASCII required 94 printable characters, and that other characters were added to make up the 128 possibilities of 7 bit ASCII.

    Unicode is the generic name for the universal collection of glyphs and codes used in typesetting, and it can be found in multiple formats, one of which is UTF-8. There are a bit over 1.1 million different “point codes” which make up Unicode. If we were to use “wide characters” of constant width, we would find that 21 bits is required. As we tend to work with multiples of 8 (or better yet, powers of 2), we would probably end up with 24 (or 32) bits per character.

    UTF-8 is an encoding of the 1.1 million point codes which was originally set up to use from 1 to 6 bytes per point code. Apparently it is known that it only requires 1 to 4 bytes.
    The 1 byte part of the UTF-8 encoding, is the same as 7 bit ASCII (the high bit is always 0).

    One thing that is interesting, is that if you look at the pattern of 1s and 0s in any UTF-8 point code, you will NOT find the pattern for any smaller point code. All UTF-8 point codes are unique patterns, and consequently if you know a body of text is UTF-8 encoded, you can start analyzing the bit patterns at any place in the text and after a while discover where the beginning of a character is and how big it is.

    Many of the Unicode encodings make use of a BOM (Byte Order Mark). While UTF-8 has a BOM assigned to it, the standard does not require it to be present. The UTF-8 BOM is 0xEF,0xBB,0xBF (in hexadecimal). Some applications mistakenly insert a BOM at the beginning of UTF-8 encoded files, which interferes with the proper use of the file.

    One type of file for which this is true, are the PHP files which are part of wordpress.

  39. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 7

    The reason to bring up Unicode and UTF-8, is that Unicode within itself, contains point codes that describe glyphs of a smiley nature.

    When I look at the “source” for a typical UntoldArsenal page, it appears that the typeface specification is:

    1) Verdana
    2) Arial
    3) Helvetica
    4) sans-serif

    Verdana and Arial are supposed to have good Unicode support. Helvetica supports many character sets, but doesn’t have broad unicode support in general. The last option, is unpredictable.

    These GIF versions of smileys will work for any browser which supports GIF images, which is probably every graphical browser.

    If people start using UTF-8 “smileys”, then they will only be visible for those that have Verdana or Ariel fonts installed.

  40. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 8

    UntoldArsenal runs on wordpress (so I understand), and wordpress is PHP and MySQL (could be MariaDB). MySQL was purchased by Oracle, and there were fears that Oracle was taking MySQL private, and so the community forked MySQL at some version, and called this new version MariaDB.

    PHP is supposed to support UTF-8, but one description I ran across suggested that full UTF-8 support may not arrive before PHP6. Visiting the PHP home, I don’t even see any mention of PHP6. Mind you, I don’t know where to look there anyway. PHP files are among the files that get screwed up, if a program decides to write a BOM for UTF-8.

    MySQL sort of has UTF-8 support. There is a default level, which is a subset of utf-8 which works for ordinary kinds of connections. Apparently if you want full unicode support, you need to create your database using utf8mb4 encoding, as well as specifying utf8mb4 connection encoding. I suspect those kinds of things, are actually done by the wordpress software, and is not something Tony has control over.

    In trying to research this, a good argument was seen that suggested that the path to UTF-8 in web pages is to move everything over to UTF-8, as Wikipedia has (apparently) done.
    Which in terms of web sites driven by PHP, means that HTML entity encoding (using the ampersand) should not be used. That kind of upgrade doesn’t seem to be close to planning stage for wordpress.

  41. Smileys and Other Magic – Part 9

    UTF-8 has lots of things in it. All the special symbols for phonetics are there. There are lots of useful symbols, here are a few I picked out.

    ¢ Cent sign (U+00A2) C2A2
    £ Pound Stirling (U+00A3) C2A3
    ¥ Yen (U+00A5) C2A5
    € Euro (U+20AC)
    § Section (U+00A7) C2A7
    © Copyright (U+00A9) C2A9
    ® Registered (U+00AE) C2AE
    µ micro (U+00B5) C2B5
    ¿ inverted question mark (U+00BF) C2BF
    Ö Latin capital O with diaeresis (U+00D6) C396

    Wikipedia has a page on how anybody can enter Unicode characters at

    In Japan, large numbers of glyphs that are similar to smileys have been in use in mobile phones for a long time, and are called Emoji. It seems likely that most Emoji will become Unicode point codes at some time. Many are now. Wikipedia has a page of Emoji at

    There is a table titled Emoticons about half way down the page, the top 4 rows all display on my computer (except U+1F624 and U+1F62C), bottom row mostly doesn’t.

    Two tables down, is another title Miscellaneous Symbols, which mostly displays down to U+26Cx on my computer.

    There are supposed to be special point codes for use in line drawings, but I haven’t tracked those down.

    And I think that is enough on smileys.

  42. Another OT: Grassroots, the Laws and Refs

    There is no sense writing this in any of the current threads, it isn’t close enough, and could get longish. That I already have a series of articles above, wasn’t intended.


    Growing up with football (people around here mostly call it soccer), I can’t ever remember a coach ever spending time teaching the laws of the game to players. I did take a referee class or two, because teams were required to have one person become a referee.

    Tony has mentioned grassroots efforts (in England), which seem to be failing. And referees like to be respected.

    Hopefully I can tie this together. I need something else to work on for a few minutes anyway.

  43. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs

    The problems Tony are seeing in grassroots, I think is endemic, and a condition that needs to be dealt with. And education is part of the path.

    We need to start at the top. The IFAB and FIFA need to sit down and look at the laws as currently existing, and come up with a set of questions which minimally probes the essentials of the game. And if changes occur in the future, part of the process is that IFAB and FIFA must change the questions that are effected.

    Every question gets a unique “serial” number.

    These questions are intended to be answered by FIFA referees of national associations, and disciplinary committee members of national associations. (Note: in order to be a FIFA referee or a disciplinary committee member, you must have a passing grade on those questions.)

    A responsibility of FIFA, is to translate ALL of those questions into every native language registered by FIFA national members. The translated questions are to keep the same serial number.

    Every national association is then handed versions of the questions appropriate for the registered national languages in that nation. They must then translate these questions to a level appropriate for referees of adult professional leagues, for referees of adult semi-professional or amateur leagues, for referees of youth leagues, and for referees of children’s leagues. Referees at whatever level (and disciplinary committee members) must have a passing grade on these questions. If a particular person is a child referee and a professional disciplinary committee member, they have to pass both versions (child and adult professional). The serial numbers need to be kept.

    The leagues at their discretion, can further translate the questions to levels appropriate for players, or they can use the referee level questions. If referees are tend to be well educated professionals, and players tend to not be well educated, this would be a bad decision. Serial numbers need to be maintained.

    And at this point, we have a series of questions. We require officials using the laws to pass examinations of ALL questions appropriate to their level.

  44. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 2

    Sorry, I goofed and didn’t put Part 0 and Part 1 on the previous notes.

    Okay, there are O(10) Laws, so I am expecting at this point we have less than O(100) questions. If there are 23 questions, the serial numbers to start with will run from 1 to 23. In 10 years time, some of the serial numbers will be dropped, and we might be up to serial number 30.

    Every football association must use these questions. Every year, a random renumbering of questions must occur. If the highest serial number present is 30, having the random renumbering start at 101 is reasonable.

    For example, serial number 2 might end up being 117 and serial number 19 might end up being 116.

    At every game, 10 or so minutes before kickoff, the referee will call for the field to be closed (my terminology, possibly not optimal). All the players are to line up in a single line, with alternating team. If one team is short players for the lineup (and/or the game), the end of the line will have a number of players of the opposite team all in a row.

    Before the game, the referee decided on say 4 or 6 questions, which are listed on the back of the score sheet as question 1 is random number 116 (no link to IFAB serial number). The referee chooses at random, whether to start at the beginning, or at the end of the line. The referee shakes the hand of each player (are there problems with this?) as they “interrogate” them, they check their footwear for sharp edges (this is supposed to be done, but I’ve never seen it except for substitutions), and they ask the player one of the random questions. On the front of the score sheet, is a place for the question number (random, 1-6 in this example) and whether the answer is correct. The referee then moves to the next player, until all players examined. If players have arrived late (to the field closure), they can now be examined. If late players entered the field after closure, they will be booked for ungentlemanly conduct.

    If players change position once lined up (based on the referee starting at the end, instead of beginning), or if players engage in aggressive behavior while in the line, they shall be booked for ungentlemanly conduct.

    For players in the childrens age groups, yellow cards for ungentlemanly conduct will not count in terms of a second booking in the game, but will count towards suspensions due to having too many cards. For players in the youth and adult categories, yellows obtained pre-game will count in the subsequent game. Hence, a player on a yellow before the game starts, could be ejected for a second yellow on a first bookable offense.

  45. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 3

    The local association is responsible for using the conversion chart on the back of the score sheet to convert game day questions to the random renumbered questions for the year, and also to the IFAB serial numbers.

    If the referee is asking the same questions, with the same random encoding over and over, the referee is to be disciplined. If the referee is asking the same questions, with varying encoding, the referee is to be disciplined. If the referee is consistently asking the same IFAB serial number questions, they are to be disciplined. The object is that over the course of a season, there is a reasonable chance that all players get asked about most of the laws of the game.

    The grade each coach/manager gets, is the fraction of questions his/her players answer correctly over the year. Coaches must “pass” in order to be allowed to coach in the future. A coach that doesn’t pass, must take a remedial class on the laws of the game.

    If a player was correctly answering a question, and suddenly starts answering the question incorrectly, the coach is to be investigated.

    A player that has been in youth or any adult category for N years (I am picking 4 out of a hat, for no reason), is expected to get all questions correct all the time. If such a player ends up before a disciplinary committee for any reason, that committee must examine their accuracy in answering questions. If this player does not have 100% for a score on the laws of the game, their suspension will be increased. Associations are expected to come up with reasonable additional suspensions for not knowing the laws of the game. The additional suspension for not knowing the laws, will not be subject to appeal.

  46. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 4

    If a player was asked a question pertaining to excessive (nominally a straight yellow) or violent conduct and got the answer wrong, and during the game they are guilty of a foul for excessive or violent force, they must be red carded. Regardless of age group or professionalism.

  47. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 5

    For children’s games, referees shall be instructed in perhaps 1/4 of the games they officiate in during a season, that they must be rigid with respect to some rule. For youth games, perhaps in 1/8 the games, for adult amateur/semi-pro perhaps 1/16 the games and for adult/pro perhaps once per season.

  48. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 6


    Children shall play with a smaller ball.

    Maximum and minimum dimensions for the field boundaries, goal width and goal height should scale with the 95 percentile for the age/gender in question, related to the 95 percentile for adult males at the last world cup.

    I think the 6 yd box and penalty area should also scale as well. The center circle might also need to be scaled.

  49. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 7

    A referee shall (who will officiate at that level in that season) visit one or more teams at one of their practice sessions before the season starts. The referee shall be there for the duration of the practice (assumed to be at least 1 hour). All teams shall be visited. The distribution of referees to pre-season practices should be as close to uniformly random as is possible.

    The purpose is nominally to bring players up to date with changes in the laws of the game, but also to instruct in other areas if needed and asked. Referees will make full reports on how the team practices with respect to the laws of the game. For professional leagues, the referee will be wired (microphone and recording), and the recording submitted as part of the report.

    The referee will be paid the same as officiating a game for doing this. If the coach/manager decides to “dismiss” a referee for doing this, they will be deducted points equivalent to 1 game prior to the season beginning.

  50. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part 8+

    There might be other things, I’ve run out of things in my ideas list.

    I think respect for referees will be helped, by having referees interact more on a personal basis. Quizzing players on the laws is a start, and a start that has usefulness.

    Above we lay out situations where referees or players could be disciplined. The intention is all these records go from community, to region, to sub-country, to nation, to FIFA. And that a FA for a region must do quality control on all the regions that feed into it, that all sub-country’s do QC on regions feeding into it, that all nations do QC on all sub-country’s feeding into it, that FIFA do QC on all nations feeding into it.

  51. Grassroots, the Laws and Refs – Part N

    Arsenal has had its share of injuries, and then some. This data, at least in part, needs to be part of the system for every player.

    Then if some idiot breaks a leg, and the team yells out, “he isn’t that kind of player”, there is ammunition. As a child, he got this question wrong 93% of the time, as a youth he got it wrong 85% of the time, as an adult/pro he got it wrong 75% of the time, and he has been disciplined for this kind of action N times since becoming an adult. Yes, he most definitely is THAT kind of player.

    And it is all his own fault, as the system will have been giving him feedback since he was knee high to a grasshopper.

  52. @ Gord – Nice work . While I think in most professional clubs the youth trainees are instructed in the correct interpretation laws of the games ,I would not at all be surprised if the more senior players are taught to bend them or use it to their advantage .
    Case in point ,during the Chelski -PSG game , David Luiz kicking the ball at Cavani (?) and getting him booked . That was in poor taste .
    Should not have Moan’inho been at least have been cautioned for running unto the pitch ? Or at least banned for life for that idiotic run ,celebration and coaching the players on the field ?

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