Yellow cards and red mist


Busacci sends off van Persie: which one is seeing red mist?The smoke hasn’t yet cleared from last night’s Champions League clash between Barcelona and Arsenal, and a glaring moment of controversy – when Robin van Persie was red-carded for playing beyond the referee’s whistle – has ensured that the dust won’t settle for some time.  The decision by Swiss official Massimo Busacca to dismiss van Persie was deemed a ‘total joke’ by the Dutchman, and it is difficult to disagree.  At any level, the verdict was deplorable – to look at the magnitude of the event might be to miss the point.

This is not going to be an apologia for Arsenal.  Attempting to argue that the Gunners would (or could, or should) have beaten Barcelona with 11 men would be speculative, and possibly futile.  The stats don’t back up this hypothesis – Xavi and Iniesta alone completed more passes than Arsenal during the match, and the Gunners failed to register a shot on goal (they owed a wayward header by Sergio Busquets to their equaliser).  There is a wealth of raw figures that can verify Barcelona’s supremacy on paper, and the run of play on the pitch compounded their dominance.

Referees have a tough job.  The players – many of which earn more in a week than the officials’ annual salaries – regularly put the refereeing team into a compromising situation.  Young official James Adcock found out the hard way in his first Football League match how tough it can be to maintain order – in the dying moments of Wycombe’s visit to Macclesfield last month, a 21-man brawl erupted in what has been dubbed the ‘Battle of Moss Rose’.

Unsporting behaviour, diving, and other blatant forms of cheating constantly present the officials with posing questions, and every decision they reach can be scrutinised by the hordes of cameras around the pitch.  Showing offside rulings in slow-motion and showing penalty-claims from a reverse angle tend to highlight difficult yet erroneous decisions.  Few referees get credit for making the right call.  It truly is a thankless task.

The 17 Laws of the Game have limits.  Applying the ‘letter of the law’ can be something of a fallacy – the whole point about the Laws is that they aren’t convoluted or overbearing, and they instil a sense of trust in the referee’s judgement-calls.  The Laws comprehensively cover the cut-and-dry points such as the pitch dimensions and playing equipment, but they allow a great deal of leeway to the referee in interpreting the spectrum of events that can transpire on the pitch.  After all, what kind of behaviour is ‘unsporting’?  Is it simply the words, or the manner in which they are said that counts as ‘dissent’?  How ‘persistent’ do infringements have to be?  All are ‘cautionable offences’, according to Law 12.

Phil Dowd: too early to produce a red?

Phil Dowd: too early to produce a red?

There are plenty of high-profile examples of referees making contentious decisions.  Phil Dowd was widely criticised after the 2010 League Cup final – he awarded a penalty for a foul by Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidić on Gabriel Agbonlahor, but with merely five minutes on the clock, he bottled the decision to produce a red card even though the ‘obvious goalscoring opportunity’ couldn’t have been clearer for the Villa striker.  Players are frequently felled in the box with the referees giving the defenders the benefit of the doubt, and commentators regularly confirm that ‘it’d be a foul anywhere else on the pitch’.

That isn’t to criticise the role of discretion and opinions which are condoned in the Laws.  Common sense – known colloquially as ‘Law 18’ – has to apply, because the lines are so blurred between fouls, cautions and dismissals.  The simple arithmetic is: two yellows = one red, but bookings have to be distributed responsibly.  Two incredibly harsh cautions should never result in a player being sent off – in baseball, the batter is at least allowed three strikes before they’re out.  The referee acts as judge, jury and – in the case of Robin van Persie – executioner.

Massimo Busacca came to a woeful call.  Van Persie was booked in the first half for catching Dani Alves, but the Brazilian made a meal of it.  Alves didn’t opt for his usual triple-pike, but writhing around was a ploy to vilify the Arsenal striker.  It was clumsy without being malicious from van Persie, so a reluctant caution was about right.

The second yellow, however, was an embarrassment.  The problem with the Laws being so vague means that the spin-doctors can wangle any refereeing decision into being legitimated.  Whether van Persie heard the whistle or not is debateable – deafness comes by degrees, after all.  But playing-on was emphatically the right thing for the Dutchman to do.  Defenders are coached to not take risks and to ‘play to the whistle’ by siding with the utmost caution; similarly strikers have to fulfil their role until they’re sure that play has ceased.  Who can blame a marginally-offside van Persie for having a pop-shot, when his team failed to register a single attempt on goal?

Van Persie: rightly furious

Van Persie: rightly furious

With 35 minutes left to play, and a second between the whistle being sounded and van Persie unleashing his shot, it can hardly be deemed time-wasting.  Neither was it an act of petulance or dissent.   It was an honest effort on goal from a striker feeding on scraps.  Producing a red card is not a resolution to come to lightly – it smacked of Busacca acting the jobsworth.  Van Persie made a mistake, but it was Busacca that saw the red mist.

According to the rulebook, it wasn’t the wrong decision.  But it wasn’t the right decision either.  It was just an interpretation of the Laws, and a poor one.  Being a Champions League second round tie between Barcelona and Arsenal didn’t make the verdict any worse – if it had been Neuchâtel Xamax hosting Grasshopper-Club Zürich in Busacca’s homeland, it would have still been a terrible call.

We have to maintain our faith in the officials, and that they try to act in the best interests of the game.   It will be the death of the game when referees are no longer deemed capable of making calls without partisanship.  But like players, the referees will pay for their performances with their reputations.  UEFA handpick the teams of officials for their elite competition with confidence that they will be unbiased and act in the spirit of the game.  Massimo Busacca will need to prove himself again – yesterday he showed a dearth in basic aptitude that is needed at any level, from Champions League down to Sunday League.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Current Affairs, The World of Football, Thematic Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Yellow cards and red mist

  1. Hi! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you’ve got right here on this post.

    I’ll be coming back to your web site for more soon.

  2. What’s up, this weekend is fastidious designed for me, because this moment
    i am reading this impressive educational paragraph here at my home.

  3. My hair is naturally wavy, but it tends to curl every time it.
    It will also search extraordinary on hair which is thick with wealthy hues and highlights all over the strands.

    An experienced stylist can guide you better for the haircut
    that will suit you.

  4. First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a
    quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior
    to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any recommendations or hints? Appreciate it!

  5. I seldom leave a response, however after browsing a few of the remarks here Yellow cards and red mist | The Reducer.
    I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me
    or does it look like some of these remarks appear
    as if they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing on other online social sites, I’d like to
    keep up with you. Would you post a list of all of your social pages like your twitter feed,
    Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  6. Merlin says:

    Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads
    up! Other then that, superb blog!

  7. Alyce says:

    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not
    seeing very good results. If you know of any please share.
    Kudos!

  8. As it is should you choose everything, explained you will get your
    things in 30 seconds.

  9. Malcolm says:

    The Rim PlayBook can be an open-book in front of the iPad
    2. You’ll be able to arrange or change your subsystem or something
    you choosed to do for it. Therefore today, it has been commonly completed.

  10. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew
    of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter
    updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience
    with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  11. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup?

    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty
    penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure.

    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  12. yahoo says:

    Hey there I am so delighted I found your website, I really
    found you by accident, while I was searching on Aol for something else, Anyways I am here now and
    would just like to say cheers for a tremendous post and a all round
    interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute
    but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

  13. Norris says:

    Nice answers in return of this difficulty with genuine arguments and explaining all on the topic
    of that.

  14. I think that what you wrote made a great deal of sense. However, what about this?
    what if you added a little information? I ain’t suggesting your content
    is not solid., but what if you added a post title that
    makes people want more? I mean Yellow cards and red mist | The Reducer is a little vanilla.
    You could look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create article headlines to
    grab viewers interested. You might add a related video or a related picture
    or two to get readers interested about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it might bring
    your blog a little livelier.

  15. Cortez says:

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of
    the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. soup.io says:

    This piece of writing is genuinely a fastidious one it
    assists new web visitors, who are wishing for blogging.

  17. Lucile says:

    It’s very simple to find out any topic on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this
    article at this site.

  18. url.Org says:

    Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums
    that cover the same topics? Appreciate it!

  19. I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
    Reading this info So i’m satisfied to convey that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I came
    upon just what I needed. I most indubitably will make sure to
    do not disregard this web site and provides it a glance regularly.

  20. I regulate my surroundings to support my needs, by knowing my
    brain and body. It can be made by you so that certain people can not discover certain home elevators
    your wall. Bass blinds are recognized to keep pests away.

  21. Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the
    challenges. It was definitely informative.
    Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!

  22. As to where to get all these wonderful high tech toys, have you
    ever listened to of the web? You will also find solitary-zero
    roulette in many casinos throughout the Caribbean and the Pacific Rim.

  23. If the device is operating iOS six, you
    will see the Misplaced Mode option. You can have so numerous icons in just a single folder.
    You’d certainly consider the new features offered by every design if you could, following all.

  24. A wizard development by the Finnish computer programmers, Rovio amusement, Upset Parrots premiered last year especially for the apple iOS.

    With where the sales gained in the overall game is accompanied by excellent selling downloads a lot more than 12 thousand, Upset birds has led to the development of a worked business model.
    As a way to form gambling apps that could replicate the & number3 4;Upset Bird&number34; success tale, hire an iPhone developer who includes an exhaustive understanding of the iOS,
    in conjunction with satisfactory expertise in the mobile games
    advancement platform.

Got sommink to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s