Law Changes

With the new season getting ever closer, I thought it would be good to look at some of the changes to the laws of the game (LOTG) that the IFAB have made.

The most notable change is to Law 8, The Start and Restart of Play. The ball now no longer needs to be played forward. When refereeing young children I would sometimes have to tell them that they needed to play it into the oppositions half. Thinking about it I’ve had to tell a few adult teams too! Another change to this law is the restart at corners and free-kicks. “Clearly moves” has been added to the law so teams will no longer be able to do sly touches to catch their opponents off guard, like Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs did to Chelsea in 2009.

Another one that stands out is a change to what is being called the ‘triple punishment law’. Previously if a player player committed a foul and it denied a goal scoring opportunity he would’ve automatically been sent off. Now, if the foul is deemed to be accidental as opposed to reckless a yellow card will be enough punishment. I think this is a good change and will keep the games competitive.

When a player goes down injured, if the offending player is cautioned or sent off, the injured player does now not need to leave the field of play for quick treatment.For me this should have been changed to be under the referees control completely. A player could pick up and injury from a challenge that does not warrant a yellow or red card, but he/she may not really need to leave the pitch for treatment.

Players will no longer be booked for a handball stopping an opponent receiving possession of the ball but will be cautioned if it stops a promising attack. I can see this still causing controversy as it will be the referees opinion if the attack was going to be promising or not, and the TV pundits will have looked at 100 different camera angles to prove the referee wrong!

Also being outlawed is the last second stutter before taking a penalty, with those found guilty of the illegal feint will be shown a yellow card and an indirect free-kick awarded to the opposition. This will be interesting to see this one enforced!

 

Does A Red Card That Was Harsh Mean It Was Wrong?

Upton Park is into its last season before West Ham United’s move to the Olympic Stadium, and the club are trying to make it a memorable one, and this weekends first home fixture of this campaign against Leicester City is one they may want to forget.

Referee Anthony Taylor was one of my assessments from last weekend, and although Stoke Vs Liverpool wasn’t a memorable game, Anthony Taylor had a very good game and did not put a foot wrong. This weekend he found himself at the center of controversy, but did he get the big calls right?

The first time he was called upon to make a decision he got it right. Jamie Vardy chased a lost caused but caught up with the ball as Adrian had come off his line to clears,as the ball bounced up and the keeper clears the ball Leicester striker goes for the ball but catches Adrián. Free kick and a yellow card was exactly what was required.

Vardy attempts to win the ball but catches Adrián

Vardy attempts to win the ball but catches Adrián

With Leicester taking a 2-0 lead in the first half with two quick goals, they looked comfortable as the game headed to halftime. Diafra Sakho chased onto a through ball as Leicester’s ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel came out to close the angle down. The Hammers’ striker got to the ball first and then a collision occurred, with Anthony Taylor not giving a penalty it is safe to assume he judged it to be a coming together, which was my first reaction. Replays clearly show Schmeichel sticking an arm out and bringing Sakho down. I don’t think the Foxes stopper should have been sent off but possibly a yellow card and a definite penalty. This was a major error by Anthony Taylor, although he doesn’t have access to the replays to help him with the decision, he should’ve been in a position to anticipate something happening. He wasn’t helped by his assistant, who was closer to the incident and should have seen the arm coming up after the ball was past the keeper.

Kasper Schmeichel clearly impeeds West Ham's Sakho

Kasper Schmeichel clearly impeeds West Ham’s Sakho

With the game poised at 2-1 in the dying minutes and West Ham chasing the game Adrián comes up for a corner. The corner is cleared by Leicester and Adrián, with his back to Leicesters goal, attempts to kick the ball over his head up in the air and back in to the area. In doing so he catches Vardy in the stomach. The West Ham ‘keeper and the rest of the players felt that it was a harsh red card, but I think Anthony Taylor got this one right.

Adrián catches Vardy in the stomach

Adrián catches Vardy in the stomach

There’s no question about Adrián not meaning it. The referee wouldn’t have seen where Adrián’s eyes were but i think it was obvious to him that he didn’t deliberately kick his opponent. However that doesn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous, and serious foul play. Going by his post match interview I don’t think Slaven Billic will appeal the red card. It’s certainly not violent conduct but will be considered to be serious foul play which is a red card offence. If I’m wrong and Anthony Taylor has issued a red card for violent conduct then it should be over turned.

Not the best day at the office for the referee, Anthony Taylor

Not the best day at the office for the referee, Anthony Taylor

The Premier League Is Back And So Is The Controversy!

So the Barclays Premier League kicked off this weekend and it gave us the usual controversial incidents!

A lot was made of the goalkeeping situation at Chelsea over the summer, and it should be that a Chelsea ‘keeper is the major talking point of the weekends games.

The officials did well to work as a team, as Chelsea’s Courtois was given a red card. The first decision they got right was keeping the flag down as the Blues defence thought Gomis was offside, but he was played onside by Willian. As Gomis then took the ball towards the area, Courtois came running off his line to challenge him. The Frenchman then looked to knock the ball past him but was caught by the ‘keeper. There’s no question it was a foul but the big question was where did it occur. Michael Oliver was a little bit behind the play due to the quickness of the break by Swansea but got himself into the best possible position to see if there was any infringement, his assistant on the far side was in a fantastic position to see the foul happened just inside the area.

The biggest decision Michael Oliver had to make was the colour of the card he was to give to Courtois. He went for red, for denying a goalscoring opportunity. This has split the masses. I think its 50/50 in whether it was right or wrong. Mr Oliver has felt that the two Chelsea defenders that were trying to get back, wouldn’t have done so in time. My personal view is that the speed of the ball and Gomis plus the angle if he’d shot first time meant it wasn’t a clear opportunity to score. If he had taken a touch I believe that Cahill would’ve closed down enough and John Terry would have reached the goal line, so still not an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Michael Oliver gives Chelsea's Courtois his marching orders

Michael Oliver gives Chelsea’s Courtois his marching orders

If I had been the referee I think I would have done the same as Michael Oliver, as soon as the foul happened he would have looked towards the goal and seen the space behind Chelsea’s ‘keeper and felt red was his only option. I think Michael Oliver had a good game and controlled the game well.

Another decision by a referee that has caused a bit of controversy was the decision by  Simon Hooper to rule out an effort by Jerome, his acrobatic equaliser was ruled out for a high foot. Yes it was high but was it dangerous? Its hard to argue with the reasoning behind the referees decision but II felt that it wasn’t dangerous play and the goal should have stood. If Jerome had his studs showing towards his opponent then I would say that’s dangerous play.

Simon Hooper signals a high foot after disallowing Jerome's goal

Simon Hooper signals a high foot after disallowing Jerome’s goal

It easy for us watching at home to see all the replays and angles but all that matters is the refs view!

Chapter 19 – Cameroon Vs Croatia

Why do professional footballers act so stupid when playing in the biggest tournament of their careers? I am of course referring to the red card issued to Cameroon’s Alex Song in this group A clash.

I can almost understand a reaction like Pepe’s the other night. Furious with an opponents play acting that could lead to him being sent off that he angrily confronts that opponent and get gets carried away. Stupid, but almost understandable. Certainly not excusable.

However, the most stupid moment of the World Cup so far has to go to Alex Song.

With 5 minutes to go to the break, Cameroon must’ve been wishing for the halftime whistle to come as quickly as possible so they could regroup and try to come back from being 1-0 down. But then comes the moment that pretty much hands the win and 3 points to Croatia.

With a ball being played over the halfway line to the left hand side by Croatia, Mandzukic runs up the pitch to offer his support in the attack. He is closely followed by Alex Song. Who, for reasons known only to the Cameroon player, strikes Mandzukic in the back. The referee was in the perfect position no more than 20 yards away with a clear view.

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Possibly the easiest decision the Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca will make this summer!

There was also and incident in the last few minutes where Assou-Ekotto and Moukandjou had a disagreement and heads where shoved in Pepe style and they were pulled apart by fellow players. It was a good job the referee missed it or there could’ve been a couple more red cards!

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With the exception of the opening game, I think the standard of refereeing in this tournament has been very good. Having said that players like Song and Pepe are not exactly making life difficult for the officials!

Ref rating 7/10

Chapter 18 – Germany Vs Portugal

The level of stupidity of some players never ceases to amaze me. Yes Muller over reacted when Pepe accidentally caught him in the face but for Pepe to go up to him and shove his head into Muller’s was nothing short of stupid!

20140618-135333-50013038.jpgThis was an easy decision for the referee to send Pepe off.

But should there be consequences for players overacting? I think there should be but it’ll always be difficult to prove in the time referees have, whether a player is feigning injury or is actually really hurt.

Towards the end of last season in a previous blog I mentioned the idea of video replays or revises the day after games to assist in punishing divers. I think this could also help punish those that have been fouled but act like they’ve been hit by a sniper!

Players who roll several times or bang the floor as if in agony then get up with nothing wrong them are a real pet hate of mine! But you can’t decide to book some just because they’re not hurt!

Ref rating 7/10

Chapter 11 – Diving into trouble

As a referee, albeit at an amateur level, I get really annoyed when professional referees are slated by fans and the media alike for giving penalties or free kicks when the replays from angles that the man in the middle doesn’t have, show it was a dive. It’s as if people think the referee has just decided to give a penalty for the sake of it and that he’s out to deliberately ruin the game. Or he supports the rival team!

The referee can only give what he sees. If the player times it right, it can look like a bad foul. Are the referees and assistants to blame for being fooled? In my opinion, no they’re not. It’s the cheat that threw himself to the ground that is at fault.

It was put to me that when some players are accused of diving, are they simply jumping out the way to avoid injury? Possibly, but not when they get up screaming for a penalty, knowing they haven’t been touched. For me that is a blatant act of cheating.

It happens too often in the modern game. Players overreacting to the slightest of touches and going down when they could’ve stayed on their feet or feigning injury, like Swansea’s Chico Flores did after challenging West Ham United’s Andy Carroll. It’s a blatant attempt to get a fellow player sent off which is just cheating!

For me what is worse is players going down under no contact, before the challenge comes in or like Ashley Young did a little while back, kicking his opponents leg and going down.

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So the grand old question remains, how can the powers that be get rid of the cheats? For millionaire footballers will a few thousand pound fine make any difference to them? No.

For me, there are two options:-
1). A panel of referees or ex-referees review all decisions after the game. Looking at all angles available and decide if the player has dived. If so, then the player in question should receive a 3 match ban. Doubling each time they are found guilty of cheating.

2). The fourth official can view a monitor that will show the replays with in seconds. He can, via radio, let the referee know that it was a dive and an indirect free kick to the defending team. I would have the standard yellow card upgraded to a red card and as option number one a 3 match ban which again would double each time.

20140402-220558.jpgThe right punishment for diving?

Sound a bit drastic? Maybe, but I bet the third time someone dived and was found out and got a 12 match ban he then would probably stop diving!

Obviously it would have to be proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it was a definite dive. If all the angles fail to prove this then the accused would have to be given the benefit of the doubt and have no action taken against them.

I strongly believe that this will dramatically reduce the number of divers in our beloved game.

FIFA seem to be a bit reluctant to use technology to help referees. Goal line technology has just started to be used and is proving to be a success, so hopefully the referees will get the help needed to stamp out the cheats completely!