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Red card plague blights Arsenal, plague of blindness blights the media

by Tony Attwood

Diogo Jota double sends Liverpool to Wembley as red card plague blights Arsenal again

That’s the headline in the Telegraph today in an article by Sam Wallace, their “Chief Football Writer”.   So “red card plague” – the new disease – is hitting Arsenal. 

OK let’s look for some evidence to back up this claim (evidence which the Telegraph forgot to provide.)   

And being scientifically sound we need to compare like with like – for example red cards in league games, (since different clubs play different numbers of cup games and lots of cup games don’t have PGMO referees).

We can then answer the question, “Does Arsenal have a red card plague which is blighting the club?” as Sam Wallace, the chief football writer of the Telegraph says.

Season No of Arsenal reds Club with most reds Highest number of reds by one team
2021/22 2 Villa, Man C, Man U, Newcastle, Soton, WHU, Arsenal 7 clubs on 2 cards each
2020/21 5 Brighton 6
2019/20 5 Arsenal 5
2018/19 2 Leicester 5
2017/18 2 Leicester 5
2016/17 3 Hull, WHU, Watford 5
2015/16 4 Southampton 6
2014/15 2 Villa, Newcastle 7
2013/14 4 Sunderland 7
2012/13 5 Arsenal 5

So clearly Arsenal do pop up at or near the top occasionally – twice in fact in the past nine seasons and at the moment in the tenth season equal top with a gaggle of clubs on a whacking great two red cards each in league games.

Thus Arsenal’s red card plague is tripe, or if you prefer, mindless gibberish.  But by focussing on this totally fake point, the Telegraph and other “outlets” are able to avoid other issues of interest.   Like (for example) the small question of who is controlling football.

I started to think about this on seeing the headlines in the Guardian ‘Somebody is lying’ Arteta hits back over reaction to Covid postponement request, and quite separately Arsenal FA investigates yellow card amid suspicious betting patterns.

All of this smacks of something being wrong, but then when one asks, “who should be sorting it out?” the answer is not at all clear largely because regulation of football in Europe is, pretty much, non-existent.

There is Uefa, Fifa, the FA, the Premier League, PGMO and the TV companies.  Each is separate and does things in their own way.   Beyond that there is the EU which demands that football is conducted like any other operation within the union, meaning that workers rights are protected, and consumer choice guaranteed.   Plus we have the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  And the High Court in England, still endlessly considering the battle between Manchester City and the League.

None of these bodies has a particular mandate, each is set up in its own unique way by clubs, governments and commercial entities.

Indeed we might be approaching a point of breakdown, for as we reported the other day in the piece Head of Fifa quits Europe and moves to Qatar and escapes Swiss investigation Infantino and his family has moved out of Swiss and European jurisdiction halfway through the most serious case ever to enwrap football (the head of Fifa colluding with the head of the Swiss legal system to manipulate the evidence in a legal case).

But let’s think again about these organisations that impinge on Arsenal: Fifa, Uefa, FA, PGMO, TV, Premier League, the media, EU (if we are buying a player from an EU club) and CAS.  None is democratically elected, each is self-sustaining and answerable ultimately to no one (except to a certain degree with the EU for member countries).

If we just forget for a moment that this is how it is and is what we are used to, and instead look with fresh eyes, this is chaos.  No democratic control, each organisation running itself, no hierarchy, no universal structure.

And to be clear the European Union, has no mandate to regulate football – it just has its own competition law which restricts what Uefa can do.  Which apart from escaping the clutches of Swiss law, is undoubtedly why Infantino has moved to Qatar and why Fifa will probably follow.

Yet this utter morass is rarely talked about, and even the fact that in May last year Uefa announced the Convention on the Future of European Football was largely ignored by the media.  Its aim was to discuss long-term policy and governance reforms especially in relation to the ongoing fight between Super League and Uefa.  Around this time the government of the UK, announced its “fan-led” review, although the “led” part of that title seems a real misnomer. 

One of the big problems is that every organisation that wants to be the defender of the game and its traditions, and is wound up in commercial interests.  Thus those who want to be part of the solution remain part of the problem.

At the same time, the media in England ignore this huge issue which is at the very heart of football, just as they ignore Infantino scarpering off to Qatar with his family and chunks of Fifa, and instead run silly little pieces such as Arsenal’s “red card plague”.

In short, those who claim to be part of the solution are nothing more than part of the problem.  In such a situation, the abject refusal of the media in England to deal with any of these issues, instead running fantasy tales about “Arsenal’s red card plague,” stops us from having any real debate at all.

And I haven’t even started on the lack of safety arrangements for young players.

I’ll continue with this theme shortly.

5 comments to Red card plague blights Arsenal, plague of blindness blights the media

  • Chris

    Tony,

    I wonder where the talkers on TV last night (Sky) had the number of 15 reds since Arteta has started managing the club then ?

  • Mac

    Whether it’s a plague or not, it is a problem. Three red cards in four games is not exctly brilliant. Partey does have the excuse of tiredness though even though he didn’t use it.

  • mick shelley

    Regarding the investigation into an alleged betting scam involving an Arsenal player, of all the articles from various sources have I seen the slightest hint of a mention that it could be a referee who is the guilty party.
    It is he after all who hands out the yellow card.

  • John L

    If I was a betting person I would regard multiple yellow and frequent red cards against Arsenal as well worth a regular punt. It might well be worth adding adverse VAR calls, plus the incidence of offences and decisions against us being ignored by VAR.

    This has nothing to do with Arsenal and everything to do with referees.

  • Mikey

    Watching footie on the tv. A player goes into a tackle with little hope of getting a ball that is long gone. He hits an opponent on the hip with his studs up. No it wasn’t an Arsenal player, so it was a yellow card. Yet we have had three players sent off in the last four games for fouls that weren’t even half as bad. Level playing field my arse.

    It is so difficult to say whether referees in England are corrupt but if they aren’t, the level of incompetence is absolutely staggering.

    And only a few seconds ago on Match of the Day, the “expert” (pmsl) pundit suggested that it was only a yellow card because it was just “a glancing blow”. I seriously suggest that pundits learn the concepts of “intent” and “dangerous play”. In fact any understanding of the rules would be a massive improvement.