Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Referees Correct to Caution Players for Jumping into Spectator Stands

The following incident occurred during an English Premier League match between Everton and West Ham on Saturday 22 January 2011. The match finished 2—2.

In the 84th minute, West Ham’s Frederic Piquionne made it 1—2. He celebrated by jumping over the perimeter fence and running into the West Ham crowd. Referee Peter Walton had no choice but to show a yellow card. Since this was Piquionne’s second caution he was sent off. Here are the freeze frames:

After Piquionne celebrates in the spectator stands, he returns to the pitch and receives his second yellow card

Subsequently, in the 92nd minute Everton’s Marouane Fellaini scored the equalizer against 10-man West Ham. Note that Fellaini was careful (and clever?) not to jump over the perimeter fence to celebrate.

Fellaini celebrates without crossing the perimeter fence

West Ham manager Avram Grant was not happy because his team, currently bottom of the EPL, ruined their chances of getting 3 points.
Here's Grant on the second caution and subsequent send off of Piquionne:
It’s a joke. The red card is a joke. I’m not speaking against the referee. For me it’s a joke. But next time I will tell my players to go to a funeral when they score.

On BBC's Match of the Day, presenter Gary Lineker and pundits Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer discussed the goal celebrations of Piquionne and Fellaini.

Shearer: It’s ridiculous. Look, the one criticism the fans have of players is that they don’t care enough. Now for what he (Piquionne) thinks, he’s scored the winner here. His team are bottom of the league, and struggling, so he’s shown passion, commitment, great header, and I know that’s the Law and I know it’s the rule …

Lineker: And the players know that [Law]

Shearer: Yeah but it’s ridiculous. It’s a stupid Law, it’s a stupid rule. It’s not as if he’s going into the away fans causing a riot. He’s going to his own fans. It’s ridiculous. That Law has got to be changed.

Hansen: To make matters worse, in the 91st minute Fellaini scores. And when he runs towards the crowd he knows the rule, he knows the Law, because he doesn’t go into the crowd. So I think that’s incitement, that’s only half a yellow card.

IMHO, the BBC pundits don't have a case. They can't even string an argument together between themselves.

On the Celebration of a Goal, referees are advised the following:

While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive.

Reasonable celebrations are allowed, but the practice of choreographed celebrations is not to be encouraged when it results in excessive time-wasting and referees are instructed to intervene in such cases.

A player must be cautioned if:

• in the opinion of the referee, he makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory

• he climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored

• he removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt

• he covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item

Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence in itself but it is essential that players return to the field of play as soon as possible.

Referees are expected to act in a preventative manner and to exercise common sense in dealing with the celebration of a goal.

There are reasons for these guidelines and mandatory cautions. A recent example that occurred during an A-League match between Sydney FC and Gold Coast United on Saturday 8 January 2011 nicely illustrates the reason why players should refrain from going into the spectator stands. The match finished 2—0. Here are the freeze frames:

Sydney FC Finnish forward Juho Makela scores in the 92nd minute and proceeds to jump over the perimeter fencing to celebrate with fans

The consequences are clear to see, in that Juho Makela's team-mate Matthew Jurman had his left leg pinned under an advertising board as it collapsed due to the overflow of fans that congregated following Makela's goal celebration with the fans.

Fortunately Jurman, who received prompt medical assessment, was not seriously injured. However, he did miss the final two minutes of the match!

Surprisingly, referee Chris Beath did not issue a yellow card to Makela for jumping over the perimeter fencing.

So, in response to Shearer's opinion about the "ridiculous rule", it doesn't matter whether players jump into their own supporter's area or even into their opponent fans' area to celebrate ... because there is still potential for things to get out of control in the ensuing mass euphoric congregation. Players need to act responsibly and must refrain from getting into situations that may endanger the safety of others.

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