Why don’t the refs call “obvious” penalties?


While watching the Arsenal struggle to dominate Crystal Palace on Saturday, there were at least 2-3 incidents against Arsenal players where many supporters claimed we should have had a penalty awarded.  Having officiated for many years and been the target of such complaints from both managers, players and certainly fans, here is my take on how these things transpire and why:

Which offences are punishable by a direct free kick in the penalty area (a penalty):

If a player commits any of the following offences in his penalty area in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

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

A penalty kick is also awarded to the opponents if a player commits any of the following offences in his penalty area:

  • tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
  • holds an opponent
  • spits at an opponent
  • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

Yesterday we saw what appeared to be a foul by Hageland on Giroud when he appeared to hold and then drag Giroud to the ground,in the CP penalty area.  I watched the event from different angles and here is my interpretation of this event:

1) Hageland was all over Giroud and was definitely holding on to him.

2) This was well inside the penalty area.

3) When Giroud started to move to goal, Hageland seemed to drag him down.

4) Giroud added considerable flourish to his fall and was somewhat theatrical, But he definitely was held and dragged down.

5) Mr.Moss clearly saw what was happening but appeared to consider Giroud’s exaggerated tumble as just that….an exaggeration….and he ignored the event. This, imho, was a serious error on the officials part, even IF Giroud did embellish the event a little. There was clear contact, clear use of the arms to restrain Giroud and clear purpose in Hageland’s wrestling Giroud down.

I also saw Chamakh appear to handle the ball clearly inside the penalty area (but very close to the line) and after revisiting this event here are my conclusions:

1) Chamakh was definitely inside his penalty area.

2) The ball definitely touched his right arm and chest.

3) He definitely and deliberately controlled the ball using his right arm.

4) Mr.Moss again seemed to see the event but it did happen very quickly so he may have missed it.

5) There was a very strong case for a penalty to be given against CP for deliberate handling in the penalty area but again an error on Mr.Moss’ part allowed Chamakh to play on.

So, in answer to the title question here is what seems to be happening in this type of situation:

a) The referee is choosing to ¨interpret¨ the Law and the incidents covered by it in a rather unorthodox manner.

b) He clearly demands far more ¨evidence¨ of foul play and undeniable infringements than he sees in front of him.

c) He is far too tolerant of behaviour that many more orthodox referees would not accept but as Walter has shown in his reviews, this is one of Mr.Moss’ failings.

Therefore, the answer to the question is that Mr.Moss does not see the above events as ¨obvious¨penalties and in keeping with his tolerance of other misbehaviour (time wasting, rotational fouling) has developed a style offering some good officiating combined with very questionable decision-making when faced with serious fouls in the penalty area committed by the defending team.

If any readers have questions and or need clarification about how I came to my conclusions, please join in the debate. The idea here is to illuminate the referees’ obligations and their interpretations of the Laws that seem to conflict with what our fans consider fair and just.


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49 Replies to “Why don’t the refs call “obvious” penalties?”

  1. I must confess I have very limited knowledge on the rules and regulations with regards to how referee “runs’ the game. However, one thing I learnt to adapt to, over my years as a competitive player in games involving referees, during my school days, is: “Play to the whistle of the Referee”. All players must learn that, so that when the referee waves “play-on”, we play on instead of sulking (please protest only when the ball is “dead” or out of play); when referee stops the play, return the ball quickly to its “foul” position and get the game going; etc. Well, this is just my simple wish.

    While we can comment on the referee’s performance after the game, off-field, at the pub, however, on-field, I always play to the whistle of the Man-In-Black!

  2. If we combine observations from Saturday with the performance of Lee Probert in May in front of ninety thousand people and millions on the telly then perhaps it is reasonable to conclude that these officials do not know the rules of association football.
    How else could a referee miss a foul that would even be a penalty in a friendly five a side lunchtime game (any of the hacks on Cazorla in May)?

  3. Mr Moss officiating last Saturday match involving Arsenal fc and Crystal Palace was very poor. Chamakh was constantly kicking Jack and Carzola, while Hageland repeatedly wrestled Giroud and Sancheze down even in the 18.

    I think Mr Moss should go back to school and learn how to officiate.

  4. So if the referees “miss” them and everyone else “sees” them ( via live TV ) then we have to accept the verdict of the majority and use the TV feeds ( or in house TV feeds ) to assist the officials. Back to the old technology argument again.

  5. An alternative view is that Mr Moss and Mr. Probert actually know the rules perfectly well, but choose not to apply them when it would be to Arsenal’s benefit.

  6. Does one player (Chamakh) fouling of various Arsenal players also qualify as “rotational” fouling.
    I thought rotational fouling would be more like the same Arsenal player being fouled by various opposing players so they can avoid being carded.
    Also, because of his hair, this would be rotational “fowling” speaking of Marouane Chamakh.

  7. @john
    To question the veracity of British referees is just not on old chap. Foreign refs maybe are on occasion guilty of impropriety but our chaps are straight as a die.

  8. i think all refs do that dont they? from game to game they are likely to make mistakes on certain decisions. so they should really be more aware the next game of players actions.

    i often find myself confused by the inconsistency of refs as well as question how they look to improve their decision making. lower league refs can not be judged the same way cos there is not always clear evidence of the decisions they’ve made in games (i assume anyway). but top level refs dont have that same excuse available to them.

    a common incident in games is the holding of players the players of the defensive team does on the attacking team from set pieces. but penalties seem to rarely be given from those particular situations at least compared to how many set pieces happen on a weekend in the PL (thats not to mention the championship, french league, spanish, italian, german etc etc).

    i forget when the rule was put in place but some time ago refs were encouraged to book (yellow card) players that they had deemed to be diving or trying to con the ref. so in the giroud incident vs palace. moss was not convinced of the penalty giroud should have been given but why wasnt he booked? deductive reasoning dictates that if giroud was not fouled then he must be trying to con the ref with his appeals. in the past some players have laughed off the decision of the ref to not award the penalty when they have clearly dived. some refs have also laughed off previous incidents which again confuses me. as by the law of the game either the diving player or the deemed diving non fouled player should be given a yellow card.

    with handballs so many players handball the ball with their arms above their head or in an unnatural position. i believe in most cases the distance of 6 yards is required for a handball decision to be fairly given. cos the player should have enough time to avoid the handball. handball incidents dont just have to be about controlling the ball as players can blocked the ball passing them & then clear it in a defensive situation or pass/shoot/cross in an attacking situation. that doesnt mean a player cant handball if the distance between them and the ball is less than 6 yards but its likely less avoidable. meaning it cant be handball.

    in a situation like spurs/west ham at the weekend we saw a penalty given for a handball with the distance between the player and the handballing player was much less than 6 yards. however the spurs defender had his arms above his head. that is therefore surely avoidable. the spurs player was also sent off which imo was unfair on spurs. i would bet the same ref will not send off the next player to handball the ball. the inconsistency is inexcusable for me.

  9. “An alternative view is that Mr Moss and Mr. Probert actually know the rules perfectly well, but choose not to apply them when it would be to Arsenal’s benefit.”

    This would also be a perfectly reasonable conclusion. 🙂

  10. Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Chamakh did get a yellow on Saturday, although not sure if it was for a single or continual fouling.

  11. Sorry, Mick. I should have realised. After all, English players also never dive, it’s only foreign players who do.

  12. @Finsbury – 2:11 pm

    Thought you only remember the back-pass (surely there must be some telepathy between the you-know-who-they-are players)! As for that “evil Eduardo”, if Mike Riley, who deemed Rooney to be fouled and awarded that “penalty”, was the referee, he would have “red-carded” Eduardo for “flying in the air”!

  13. The F Word has certainly had better PR then the self-declared & self-defeating sado-masochistic PR experts otherwise known as the AAA

    Eduardo should’ve hired his PR team! Or agent.
    His card was marked with red after he knocked England out the euro’s.

  14. oldgrover,
    I think he got the YC after his 10th foul; he had no more fouls after the YC.

  15. Ray……..you are right,rotational fouling implies that players are rotating for the dastardly deed, not one player constantly doing the deed….with the idea that many are harder to punish than a repeat offender…..clearly thought up by an evil genius of a manager!!
    Kurt…..this is perhaps the first rule of common sense in Football: if the referee doesn’t stop play then the players must continue playing, except in the case of an injured player where the ball is kicked out in good sportsmanship by the opponents or his own team-mate.
    John….these referees do indeed KNOW the laws very well (far better than the players) but they don’t always KNOW the proper application of the laws, even when a clear foul is committed on the field. Is it because it is the Arsenal….or just due to inconsistent application of the laws based on inconsistency and mistaken perceptions….or worse still a certain inability to believe what they see/did not see in front of them.
    As a psychologist I know that individual perception is unique to each person and what to one person appears clear to another may appear occluded.

  16. I think part of this goes back to Walter’s article a couple of weeks back – whereby northern refs focus more on “game management” (‘like a good tackle’…) whereas southern refs are more “technical”? Moss is a northern ref… er, like, almost all the others.

    But, however much you spin it, the number of penalties Arsenal get is far below where it should be based on statistics over an extended period.

    4 goals a season (I will keep repeating this until the bias is resolved – may be here some time).

  17. Jambug
    The bully Keown, the barbarian Viera. And of course the original Donkey Adams who only captained the best England team I my lifetime (’96)

  18. The FA should just dock this outrageous club, the arsenal, points at the start of the season and save all these poor officals the ignominy that results from such blatant bungling. They could think of it as an act of charity.

    Like they did in the nineties in the B.W. era (Before Wenger), like they haven’t done to any other team as far as I can remember, is that correct?

    What happend to Legia Warsaw when they got their paperwork wrong?
    What happened to Wigan when West Ham got their paperwork wrong?

  19. The F Word will receive more protection then he ever received in N5 (please refer to the bruised bone, flying kicks not called as fouls etc.) playing for Gazprom then England’s No.10 who plays for the Arsenal.
    I can write that in the knowledge that LJW is at the same stage of recovery that Ramsey was at two seasons ago, he’ll make errors but if gets that run a games he’ll find his groove again.

    An intriguing contrast.

  20. 4) Giroud added considerable flourish to his fall and was somewhat theatrical, But he definitely was held and dragged down.

    My question is whether Giroud has gained a reputation for embellishing the fact that he is fouled or even for simulation…the same would apply to Jack.

  21. @omgarsenal
    I do know that, however, you do realise that there are players of our club who sometimes stop momentarily for a foul that they perceived than actually called by the referee? No point in harping over the mistakes made by referee during the game for the players, as it will affect their level of concentration in the game.

  22. GoingGoingGooner

    Totally irrelevant.

    99% of players ‘over egg’ ‘exaggerate’ fouls and it doesn’t stop them awarding penalties to them

    In a United game last year I remember Young getting booked for diving then not 20 minutes later ‘winning’ a penalty for an almost identical dive.

  23. Finsbury

    “Wilshere bruises easily”

    I suppose that’s in the same way DIABY EDUARDO RAMSEY Break easily.

    This fucking media campaign against Jack makes me sick.

    I said on a post the other day that this is all aimed at giving free reign to any thug out there that takes it on themselves to assault jack, because we all now know that when Jack is crocked again, possibly, nay, probably with a broken leg, IT WILL BE ALL HIS OWN FAULT.

    I hate the fucking media !!!

  24. The refs find it difficult, if not impossible, to award Arsenal players any penalties. And that isn’t coincidence, its clear they follow a script when they do our games. This is the case whether it’s a tackle, handball, or some other foul. In the FA cup a Hull player handled (didn’t require Live TV to see it by the way), nothing given. At the weekend Chamakh handled, again nothing given. And we are not even talking about tackles/shoves, which were blatant, but which some may try to say the way our players went down didn’t help(although I have seen penalties given to other teams where there was zero contact and the ‘fouled’ player went down as if they had been shot).

    I’ll confidently state that had the foul that was committed by Hangeland been done by Koscielny we would be talking of when Koscielny would be back after conceding a penalty and possible red card(it happened against City when he wrestled with dzeko).

    It’ll be interesting to see what sort of penalty we are going to concede ourselves(we will, so not tempting fate). The refs like to punish us at the merest hint of an offence, while on the other hand it appears the opposing player would need to commit a very serious offence (such as a punch in the face) against our players before they can be punished. I’m not going OTT here; Rosicky had a nose broken, Arteta lost a tooth to a blatant elbow, Thoe is still out after a stamp, all these offences didn’t even attract a free-kick, or yellow. The disparity between what an Arsenal player gets punished for, and what the other player needs to do before an Arsenal player gets awarded a free-kick/penalty is so huge it is shocking. IMO there definitely is an English v French thing going on(esp when one factors in the media), I cant think of anything else. Such a shame.

  25. The Laws of The Game are completely understood by PGMOL officials. My view is that they are cheats. They know what their position is and they cheat. They are not appropriate for sport. They do not have the slightest moral fibre required to deal honestly with incidents on the football field.

  26. @Jambug
    No, I don’t. I sincerely know what I am talking about. See the reaction of some of our players when the “supposedly penalty” that was not awarded? Remember how Theo Walcott scored his goal against Chelsea when he was fouled but got up and score the Goal in the 3-5 game won by us ? The one that the same player scored during our 7-3 demolition of the Toon Army when he was fouled in the box but again got up and scored? Well, that’s what I meant!

  27. You don’t “miss” blatant calls like the two clearly visible fouls on Cazorla in the final, easily spotted from the upper tier at Wembley, or in any Sunday league kick about between friends, usually followed by laughter (no ref required!).
    You don’t “miss” a tangential flying kick made by a trained athlete with enough speed and force (a run up) to break or bruise a bone perpendicular to the direction of play without even the slightest intention of missing the opponents upper shin.

    You ignore them.

  28. Kurt

    But it seems to me you are actually trying to suggest that our players are the only ones that ‘exaggerate’ fouls or protest to the ref that they think they, there team mate, has been fouled.

    That’s if I am reading you right, and I think I am, but I cant be sure because it is so utterly ridiculous.

  29. @Jambug
    No, I am afraid that you are wrong. I am not suggesting what you had thought of. What I am saying is that on-field, while the referee did not blow for anything and the ball is “live”, there is no point in running after the referee to protest and trying to gain his attention, unless it is a serious injury. On the other hand, the players can protest, and I believe the Captain of the Day will do it when the ball in “dead” or out of play. See what happened when Walcott scored both goals? The defensive players paused momentarily. Walcott could have stop playing as he was clearly fouled, and waited for the referee to blow his whistle, as many of the players would have done it. He did not do it and continued to do what he intended to – bring the ball forward and scored!

  30. Kurt

    You ARE saying exactly what I thought, so you ARE talking nonsense, in my opinion anyway.

  31. menace 3:51
    Absolutely agree with that. They’re cheats, or forced to cheat (they all can’t be cheats by nature, which is why some may want to talk after retiring a la Halsey). Maybe it’s just me but I thought Moss’s body language was not right, like how someone behaves when they know someone is appraising their performance and would be assessed later on. The way he fumbled with that magic spray, etc, didn’t inspire confidence. The only other time I can think of where a ref didn’t appear to have complete control of matters on the pitch or appear to be confident in what they were doing was when Marriner reffed our loss at the bridge last season.

  32. @Jambug
    I truly believe that if you thought exactly what I am saying, then you shall be able to comprehend what I meant. Unfortunately that seems not to be the case. Obviously if you are able to think “exactly” of the “nonsense” that I spout, what does that speak of you? As nonsense as I am. Nonetheless it is my personal opinion, and shall be limited to the exchanges we had here!

  33. Kurt.

    The point of the Authors post is to highlight what seems to be a definite trend to NOT award Arsenal penalties when they clearly are penalties. Penalties that we see awarded time and again to other teams.

    As a counter argument you seem to be suggesting that we ‘play to the Whistle’ as if that would somehow address the issue.

    a) I fail to see how

    b) Nobody else ‘plays to the whistle’ but that doesn’t seem to stop them getting awarded free kicks.

    Please explain to me how you think us alone ‘playing to the whistle’ is going to get us the blatant penalties we currently do not?

  34. I wonder if all the other clubs’ sites have supporters each feeling that incompetent and biased officials regularly treat THEIR team so unfairly .
    After every game, both clubs report (presumably to the PGMOL) their views on the performance of the referee.
    And that’s as far as it goes…
    Until we have a more sophisticated means of ensuring integrity in match officialdom, all the moaning in the world will not change the situation.
    Except perhaps to let loose the fury of those who take the trouble to forward their comments via the internet.

  35. To quote BT, Arsenal’s proud corporate partners:

    “It’s good to talk.” 🙂

    Because, you never know who might be listening, Those who take the effort to write these reviews and previews for us football fans have left enough hints. I’m glad their efforts have found their way to some of those who need to see them.

  36. @Jambug
    1) “The point of the Author’s post is to ………” – Hence we shall only discuss this issue only? Well, in that case when the Author’s post is “$h!t That Arsenal Fans say ……” perhaps we should stick to “what $h!t Arsenal Fans say” instead of asking whether People are going for the return CL match. How does that, asking whether people are attending a game, contribute to the title? Unless that is aslo “$h!t” said by an Arsenal Fan?

    2) You seemed to get more personal with regards to the matter that were exchanged between us, as the rest of your post suggest. To reinforce what I imply, what has “I hate the fucking media” got to do with the title/Author’s post? Surely what the Author posted have nothing to do with the media, as well as that particular reply that carried “I hate the fucking media’!

    In view of that, I shall refrain from posting in this site. Perhaps that will help you to have a peace of mind!

    PS – I don’t see the need in explaining to you as you can see why in the above conclusion that I had arrived at!

  37. @Jambug

    My apologies. Miss an important line/word, hence have to retract this refrain for the time being.

    To add: “You seemed to get more personal and ACTING LIKE A BIG BULLY, SIMILAR TO THE FUCKING MEDIA THAT WE ALL TALKED ABOUT, with regards to the ……….”.

    Trust that you failed you GSCE in English as you could not even spell the word BYE! Perhaps you did not even sit for it! You are rest in peace now …. sorry, I mean you can have a peace of mind now.

  38. Oh dear, it should be read as “You can rest ….” instead of “You are rest …..”. Again, my apologies!

  39. Kurt

    By the way, you said.

    “You seemed to get more personal with regards to the matter that were exchanged between us”

    In my 1st post to you I said:

    “…..you are making no sense what so ever”

    In my 2nd post to you I said:

    “……it is so utterly ridiculous”

    In my 4th post I said:

    “….you are talking nonsense”

    Not one is a ‘personal’ insult.

    Each is an expression of my opinion, my personal opinion, of what you are saying, and I maintain they are……

    …….utterly ridiculous, and make no sense what so ever.

    If that is too much for your sensibilities then I am sorry.

    You best not get into a debate with our friend BILL FROM MANHATTEN or you’ll be needing counselling.

  40. Kurt

    I am not well educated but I try, but are you being serious with this…

    “Trust that you failed you GSCE in English as you could not even spell the word BYE!”

  41. @jambug

    Whatever your education level is you do damn well with your contributions here and you think and write in a logical and sequential way.

    I enjoy reading your posts and I will be delighted to buy you a few jars sometime.

    The prat you were debating with had obviously run out of ideas & was looking for some way to insult & exit.

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