Blue card rule…sin bin: How authorities complicate a simple game


Blind Hammer reviews the latest IFAD nonsense

It is amazing how football authorities can complicate a simple game. The bizarre mess that they have made of the handball rule and the BAR review procedures are only the most recent examples of their misconceived deliberations.

Now we are faced with their latest potential calamity. They plan to introduce a Blue Card Rule for “professional” cynical foul and dissent.

The problem of dissent and cynical fouling is undeniable. Petulant displays by players and Managers such as Arteta would be funny if it did not threaten football at all lower levels.

Blue card rule…sin bin: How authorities complicate a simple game

We need the best referees at every level to promote the game and allow players and teams to climb the footballing pyramid to success.

Unfortunately, idiots in the lower leagues emulate the childish tantrums of their dubious Premiership idols, and try, in turn, to intimidate referees.

Despite our individual frustrations with them, referees need protection if we are to recruit and retain the best.

Cynical fouling has also polluted our game. West Ham has suffered more than most from this unfair but essential support to the extreme high press.

It is only a few years since Mark Noble had the extraordinary statistic of being the most fouled against player in the Premier League and West Ham were consistently high, if not top, in the list of the most fouled against teams in the PL. Check one of my old blogs for the actual stats.

This cynical cheating to support the high press was pioneered by Guardiola and Klopp at Manchester City and Liverpool. City midfielder recruit, Rodri. let the cat out of the bag in October 2019. To Guardiola’s embarrassment he naively confessed his new duty to tactically foul as his most difficult adjustment.

So, the problem is undeniable, but will Blue Cards be the answer? Of course not.

As former players like Lineker and Shearer have already pointed out, all that will happen after losing a player to the Sin Bin, is that teams will sit back, become ultra defensive, attempt to stifle play in the process , slowing everything down to eat up as much time as possible whilst their miscreant is missing. The result will be regular boredom and frustration.

The irritating thing is that FIFA already had a perfectly acceptable, proven, solution to both the problems of dissent and cynical fouling.

In 2000 FIFA introduced a 10-yard penalty for dissent, moving a free kick further towards the offending player’s goal.

Yet in 2005 FIFA president Sepp Blatter inexplicably abandoned the rule after only four seasons.
Referees, including Premier League chief Referee Keith Hackett, instantly expressed disappointment. Hackett was bemused and said:”It is a disappointing decision because while the law was not used a lot, it did have an impact on the behaviour of players.The referees over here found it acted as a deterrent.”

He added: “The problem, as I understand it, is the countries who do not have any familiarity with the concept couldn’t get their heads around the process.”

So, one of the few rule changes which showed instant improvement, immediately acting as a deterrent to foul play was the rule which FIFA bizarrely chose to abandon.

Given Blatter’s record in other areas we should not be too surprised at his lack of judgement.
In any case now, to suggest referees cannot comprehend a 10 yard rule, whilst at the same time expecting them to understand the arcane complexities of the current VAR and handball rules, involving judgement of silhouettes, natural positions, body movements, body to hand exceptions and so on is illogical in the extreme.

There is a tried and tested solution for both cynical fouling and dissent which is the re-introduction of the 10-yard rule which has already worked well for four seasons.

The fact referees rarely had to use it is an indication of its success rather than failure. The only tweak I would be tempted to include is to increase the penalty to fifteen yards for cynical foul play. However, I suppose FIFA may consider that is far too complicated for referees to understand.

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David Griffith

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My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer