Monday, November 06, 2006
But - and I hope I'm not guilty of subconscious bias here - Matthew Bingley's dismissal on Saturday night was not.
I have always had a problem with the notion that playing on after the whistle should result in an automatic yellow card. Referees certainly seem to see it that way, but I'm not sure that it should be so. To revisit, for the umpteenth time, Law 12:
"A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he...delays the restart of play"
Let's clear up one issue first. In some cases, kicking the ball away after the whistle might be considered dissent by word or action, another infringement for which Law 12 decrees that a yellow card should be given. However, Bingley's rushed clearance, after Nick Carle had been fouled, was surely nothing of this sort.
There remains the issue of delaying the restart.
Realistically, this can surely only mean deliberately delaying the restart, since a defender making a lofted clearance a microsecond after the ref has blown can hardly be held accountable.
The time that elapsed between Mark Shield's whistle and Bingley's hoof to safety was considerably more than a microsecond, but the principle was much the same. In my opinion (accusations of bias here, please), Bingley was committed to the clearance, and in the heat of battle, I feel it's unreasonable to expect players to "pull out" at such short notice.
An incident from the Champions' League a few years ago might illustrate my point a bit better.
In the 2003/04 competition, Chelsea hosted Turkish side Besiktas at Stamford Bridge. Shortly after half-time, the away side's centre-forward, Ilhan Mansiz, was clear through on goal. A very late offside was called, and the referee, some thirty yards behind the play, blew his whistle.
Ilhan, with little time to react to the whistle, ran on and finished nicely.
The play was called back, Ilhan was yellow carded, and, thanks to an earlier caution, he was sent off.
Quite ridiculous, I felt then - and still do.
At the game itself we spent the 2nd half on the hill for some stupid reason, the view is atrocious. I saw the initial aerial bump and when the red came out I assumed that it had been Bingley that had gone up (I originally assumed Fyfe) and had copped the second yellow.
I was astonished to get home, sit down with my Oportos ( =D ) and see that it was actually for kicking away that ball. Just as you mentioned, a horrible over-reaction.
That said it's something we've seen recently in a lot of games, both in the HAL and overseas. It's another one of those "crackdowns" instigated by authorities who see one thing wrong and order referees to over-react to it in order to stamp it out.