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

Chapter 26 – You Don’t Know What You’re Doing?

Every referee that does the big games hopes to show what he can do, whether it’s a big derby, a cup final or a game between two fierce rivals, like Chelsea versus Arsenal at the weekend.

Martin Atkinson was the man in charge for this clash at Stamford Bridge. It was always going to be a busy afternoon for him but I don’t think he expected to be as busy as he was.

It was 20 minutes into the game when he had to make the first of many big calls. Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez had the ball by the touchline, and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill comes across to try to tackle his opponent, but he gets it all wrong and goes over the top of the ball and into Sanchez’s knees. Mr Atkinson shows the Chelsea defender a yellow card. For me this challenge was with excessive force and should’ve been a red card! To defend Mr Atkinson, it looked like at the point of impact his view may have been blocked, so he may not have seen just how bad the challenge was.

Chelsea were rightly awarded a penalty when Koscielny brought down Hazard. The Arsenal defender was showed a yellow card. Had he not brought Hazard down the Chelsea player would’ve had a clear shot so therefore Koscielny should have seen red.

Rosickŷ could also have seen red for a kick at Fabregas. He may have got the ball but it was a wild swing while his opponent was on the floor. Credit to Fabregas for not feigning injury as some players may do!

Another player that was shown a yellow instead of a red card was Danny Welbeck. Immediately after the Rosickŷ/Fabregas incident, Fabregas had the by the touchline. Welbeck came steaming in and both feet left the floor therefore he couldn’t be in control of the tackle and should’ve received his marching orders. Not sure the view Martin Atkinson had but his assistant had a very clear view and should helped the assistant out.

Callum Chambers was lucky not to be shown a second yellow card in this very feisty London derby. So why was the referee so reluctant to give players red cards? You would have to ask the man himself. I know sometimes in the big games especially between rivals the challenges can be a little harder than normal and the referee will want to show common sense to try and keep all 22 players on the pitch but the players safety has to be the priority for the referee and no matter what the game or how long has gone sometimes red cards just have to be issued. Not the best day in the office for Martin Atkinson but he is a good referee and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.

IMG_3298.JPGThe managers felt the referee needed more to deal with!

On social media after the West Ham versus QPR game I read many hammers fans saying how bad Anthony Taylor is for disallowing a 3rd goal the East London side. The Rangers ‘keeper Rob Green took a quick free kick inside his area which Valencia intercepted from a few yards away and slotted the ball home. The referee disallowing the goal had nothing to do with distance. All free kicks as well as goal kicks need to leave the area before another player can touch the ball.

IMG_3299-0.JPGAnthony Taylor making his point to the West Ham players

How many fans feel silly for their outburst and will they be more understanding next time? Probably not a lot because nine times out of ten if a decision goes against a team you will always hear “this refs rubbish!” Or “you don’t know what you’re doing!”

Chapter 23 – Hands up if you love football!

What a busy weekend the premier league referees had as the 2014/15 season kicked off!

At Old Trafford in the early kick Manchester United were pressing to get an equaliser as they trailed Swansea 2-1. In the last few minutes Januzaj tries to play a ball towards goal, the ball hits Rangel on the arm and the majority of the crowd and well as the home team, appeal for a penalty.

Referee Mike Dean promptly waves the appeals away. Rangel’s arm was out but he’s turned his back and wasn’t looking at where the ball was. His arm was in a natural position and Januzaj was only a short distance away.

If it was given against your team you would be screaming at the referee to go to specsavers! If it was to be for your team you would appeal for a spot kick, but Mike Dean has got this one correct.

West Bromwich Albion were awarded a penalty shortly before half time in their opening game against Sunderland. Roberge of Sunderland does make contact with West Brom striker Anichebe’s arm but for me, not enough to send him to the floor in the way he fell. It wasn’t an outright dive but he has overreacted to a touch which, you could say was simulation!

I’m not being harsh on referee Neil Swarbrick, as in the thick of the action you see two players tussling and one goes to ground it can be easy to believe a foul had been committed especially if he sees a slight tug. The refs don’t have the advantage of replays and players will continue to exploit that!

In the London derby at the Boleyn Ground sees the first major controversial decision of the season.

Kevin Nolan turns and shoots around the six yard area, Spurs defender Kyle Naughton anticipates the shot and moves to block it. The ball strikes his hand and after a few seconds ref Chris Foy awards the Hammers a penalty. A correct decision as Naughton’s hands were in an unnatural position above his head.

Now for the controversial bit! Mr Foy speaks with his assistant then shows a red card to the Spurs defender for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The officials had to be 100% sure that the ball was going in to make that call. From their positions I’m not convinced they could be. In my opinion the only way to be 100% sure is if you were to be right behind Nolan in line with the shot. I’m sure that Tottenham will appeal and the red card will be overturned.

IMG_3129.JPGNaughton is shocked to be dismissed

James Collins was booked twice in the second half for two similar fouls. Referee correct on both occasions and Collins only had himself to balm for his stupidity!

Over in West London, QPR see awarded a penalty, as Hull City’s James Chester was penalised for handball. Referee Craig Pawson must’ve thought (obviously) that it hit the defenders arm. Even so his arm was down by his side in a natural position and he made no movement towards the ball. Justice was done as the penalty was missed!

There was the rare appeal for a pass back on Sunday at Anfield. Did the officials miss it? Or did they feel there was no case to answer? For me it’s the latter. Mark Clattenburg is one of the premier leagues best referees and I think he felt that Henderson, under pressure from an opponent, miss hit the ball.

I’m sure the referees of the premier league will be hoping for a quieter time this coming weekend.

Chapter 13 – A foul is a foul

I would like to start this article by saying how good the majority of the crowds were during the minutes silence around the grounds to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. After 25 years I hope Justice For The 96 is not too far away.


Last weekend Luis Suarez was cautioned in the fifth minute, he was not happy and tried to tell the referee that it was his first foul.

The simple fact is, it doesn’t matter when or where the foul happens if it requires a caution or even a red card that’s what the man in the middle has to do.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in my previous blogs and for those that have not read before I’ll explain what a referee thinks about when awarding a free kick:

Careless = free kick
Reckless = yellow card
Excessive force = red card

Some referees give themselves a few seconds to decide on some free kick and penalty decisions. I am one of these refs. I’m not talking about playing advantage and bringing it back, I mean not blowing up the second the challenge comes in. Quickly replaying over in your head what you have just seen can be vital. There is a fine line between some challenges that are just a free-kick and those worthy of a yellow card. The same for some that can be a yellow card or red.

You will always get someone that will disagree with what the referee has given. Those that referee at an amateur level will know exactly what I’m talking about. No matter how clear the penalty is there will be a player, coach or parent that will say your useless and you don’t know what you’re doing!

I feel it’s important for every referee, at whatever level, to make sure they get the right decision each time even if they allow a couple seconds to do that.

Mark Clattenburg made the right call to issue the yellow card to Suarez at Anfield. Did he then make a mistake by not issuing the Uruguayan a second yellow card for simulation later in the game?

Was Suarez just avoiding injury by jumping out the way of the challenge? Or was he actually caught? One can only assume the referee thought that the defender got the ball and Suarez falling to the floor is just an after effect of the challenge as Mr Clattenburg waved play on.

Man City will argue that Luis Suarez went to ground too easily. With that in mind let’s jump to the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night.

Matt Jarvis knocks the ball away from Sagna, takes a leg to the chest as the arsenal defender fails to clear, and stumbles but stays on his feet. No penalty. Why did the referee not award a spot kick?


Is it as simple as the West Ham winger didn’t go to ground? I can’t answer for the referee. Maybe he thought there wasn’t and contact and the stumble was a result of Jarvis going around the arsenal defender? Maybe his view was blocked so couldn’t see clearly?

I remember once a few years ago giving a penalty when an attacker got a kick on the ankle but didn’t go to ground. The defending quickly surrounded me and almost altogether said “but he stayed on his feet!” I paused for a few seconds taking in what was said before responding “so you think it’s ok to keep kicking a player until he falls down? A foul is a foul!”

My response was met with silence, they soon moved away and the penalty was taken and scored to which a defending player said “that was never a penalty, f*****g s**t ref”. I called him over took his name and issued a yellow card for dissent by word or action (C2)

I would like to finish of by saying congratulations to the FA Cup final officials, referee Lee Probert, assistant referees Jake Collin, Mick McDonough, fourth official Kevin Friend and reserve assistant referee Simon Bennett I’m sure they will all do a great job and enjoy the day!

Chapter 12 – That’s a penalty ref!

At Upton Park this weekend we saw a few controversial decisions. So how did the referee come to make the decisions that he did?

Approaching half-time with the scores level, Liverpool attack looking to break the deadlock before the interval. As Luis Suarez tries to plays the ball past James Tomkins, the defender leaves his arm out and moves his hand in the direction of the ball. The referee acts as he should by awarding the penalty and issuing a yellow card to Tomkins for deliberate handball. Not a difficult one for Anthony Taylor.

20140408-145242.jpgTompkins handles in the first half

Before the half is up, West Ham force a corner. As the ball is played in, Andy Carroll jumps up leading with his arms and goes in to Mignolet, causing the Liverpool keeper to drop the ball and Guy Demel flicks the ball in the net and runs off to celebrate, the goal is awarded but his assistant is flagging and Anthony Taylor goes over to speak to him. After a few moments he stands by his original decision and allows the goal.

So why did the assistant flag? Why did the referee overrule him?

Did the assistant think it was handball by Carroll? Or was he saying it was a foul on the keeper?

It’s easy for us all watching on tele to say it was a foul but you need to remember the officials don’t have that view! They can only base their decisions on what they see. If the referee believes his view is better than that of his assistant then he can overrule the flag, which on this occasion he did, even though he’ll realise later he should’ve listened to his assistant as it was a clear infringement by Carroll on the Liverpool keeper.

20140408-144455.jpgCarroll’s unpunished foul on Mignolet

The second penalty awarded to Liverpool was a controversial decision. The replays show than the Liverpool fullback Flanagan got to the ball before Adrian, but the hammers keeper got a touch on the ball before his momentum took him into his opponent. So based on that, it shouldn’t have been awarded, but remember, the referee doesn’t have the replays to refer to.

20140408-151033.jpgAdrian just gets a touch on the ball

As a referee, when a challenge happens one of the things to look out for is the direction of the ball afterwards. If the ball has changed direction that’s usually a good indication that the defending player has won the ball. But the referee has to be 100% sure before awarding a free kick or penalty.

In this case, the ball didn’t really change direction, so upon Anthony Taylor seeing the touch by Flanagan wouldn’t have seen the touch by Adrian therefor he would’ve been 100% in his mind that it was a foul. He gave himself a few moments to think about the situation too. The assistant on the far side would not have able to give it as it was not in his jurisdiction. The referee was in a good position, it just happens that something’s are not easy to spot, due to players blocking his line of vision.

20140408-143037.jpgThe areas the assistant should flag if he sees an infringement

This isn’t a case of bad refereeing or the ref trying to make amends for incorrectly allowing the west ham goal to stand, it’s just a case of bad luck for the Hammers and good fortune for Liverpool.

Would technology help? Would extra officials help? If they were behind the goals like they are in European games could they make the correct call? I would have the extra official on the other side to where they are in the Champions League as it would give the team of officials greater coverage of angles. Having said that, if they were there right in front of the incident would he/she have been too close to it to see it as clear as the TV cameras.

Another call by Anthony Taylor that upset Luis Suarez, was the decision not to award a third penalty to Liverpool after ball hit Armero on the hand. The ball flicked up off the Columbians foot and as he was moving backwards and the ball hit his hand. The reason this is not a penalty is the defenders hand was in a natural position and he made no movement of his arm towards the ball.

Football fans are too quick to judge the ref when things go against their team!

Could they do a better job? Probably not!