By Walter Broeckx. Additional material by Tony Attwood
When the referee in the Porto / Arsenal game allowed a quick free kick to be taken there were two reactions. Arsenal players, management and supporters were outraged. And the media, never one to miss an opportunity to knock Arsenal, said, “How many times did we see Henry do exactly the same?”
So what exactly does the referee’s manual say regarding the “Quick restart”.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with the Porto – Arsenal game but we recently got a reminder from our FA on what can and what can’t when teams want to take a quick free kick.
Here is the full piece, exactly as it appears…
“A quick restart can only be permitted when all the following criteria are fulfilled at the same time:
a) A quick restart means that the game is restarted immediately after it has been stopped.
b) The referee must have control over the situation
c) The free kick does not need management from the referee
d) There is no tactic used by the team committing the original foul to slow down the restart
e)There is no disciplinary action needed
f) There is no treatment for an injured player required.”
Therefore if the referee has “to manage” the situation the possibility of a quickly taken free kick is not allowed. The players then have to wait for a signal before they can restart the game.
The rule also says, and here I place it in bold because it is so important…
“NEVER ALLOW A QUICK RESTART IN THE IMMEDIATE PROXIMITY OR IN THE PENALTY AREA!”
These are not new rules – rather the re-statement of existing rules, sent out to referees in order to clarify a situation – a situation in which as we can now see, the referee got it utterly and totally wrong in the Porto game.
I think what is interesting here is that, as far as we know on the Untold Arsenal side of the fence, no newspaper or TV station actually went and checked the rules. They had the usual collection of pundits gabbling away but they did not once think, “what exactly does the rule book say here?”
Instead they jumped straight in with false analogies between the Porto game and the quick free kicks Henry tried occasionally.
The key point here is not just what the rules actually say but that once everyone has given out their views and instant opinions, they all decide to let it drop.
Of course in one sense this does not matter. Porto went out and Arsenal went through.
But if you take situations like this over and over again you find a constant attack on Arsenal’s reputation, and a constant feeling generated that Arsenal have double standards. What the media don’t like doing is saying, “Is it the case that the referee is incompetent and should never have been employed to undertake a European game, or has he been bought?”
Injury details updated 16 April
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