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.

Monday 24 January 2011

Stubborn Sexist Sky Sports Presenters Will Not Change Their Attitudes

Much outrage has appeared following the leaking of off-the-air sexist comments from Richard Keys and Andy Gray, football presenters at Sky Sports. Links of this outrage are given at the end of this post.

Suffice it to say sexist comments, like all other discriminatory views, are unwelcome and are to be actively discouraged from football (as well as in all walks of life). It should be common decency that a person should be judged on their ability and talent, rather than on unfounded preconceived guesses handed down, and accepted, by ignoramuses.

25-year-old Sian Massey, one of only two female officials operating as an assistant in the English Premier League, was the subject of sexist comments from Sky Sports presenters [Pic from AP]

Keys and Gray deserve all the criticism they get and then some. One of their targets Karren Brady, who is currently West Ham vice-chairman, said:
“It never would have occurred to me that they had those views, whether public or private".

Well Ms Brady, this is not an isolated incident. The sexist attitude of Keys and Gray, who have been presenting football for Sky Sports for nearly two decades, has been around from the very beginning. This latest incident only serves to reveal that their bigoted views will not change. For example, here is a videoclip of this pair of clowns back in 1998, when they could not contain themselves (smirking, guffawing, etc) while watching highlights from the 1998 Women’s FA Cup Final.

Andy Gray & Richard Keys Laughing At Women's Football

Apart from Sky Sports deciding to suspend the pair of clowns for one night, let's see what (if any) other punishments will be meted out to Keys and Gray.

ASIDE (since this is a Refereeing blog!):
If you watch the 1998 Women's FA Cup Final highlights carefully, two Arsenal goals perhaps should have been disallowed and this would have meant that unfashionable Croydon would probably have won the 1998 Women’s FA Cup.
The first Arsenal goal perhaps should have been disallowed for a push in the back (0:38); and the third Arsenal goal maybe could have been offside (1:36).


Sky presenters in the firing line over sexist jibes at female match official

Richard Keys and Andy Gray stood down from Sky game over sexism row

Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys say sorry after mocking lineswoman during Liverpool victory

Sky Sports presenters Keys and Gray score an own goal as microphone picks up sexist diatribe against female linesman - and Apprentice star Karren Brady

Linogate: the fall-out begins... Sky say sorry as Andy Gray and Richard Keys foul up

Sky sexism was no surprise but prejudice needs punishment

Premier League - Sky football presenters in sexism storm

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Iran’s Cool, Calm, Confident Referee

The following incident occurred during the second group stage match between Syria and Japan on 13 January 2011 at the Asian Cup in Qatar. The match finished 1—2.

In the 71st minute, a combination of defensive errors by Japan resulted in a situation where Iran referee Mohsen Torky made a tough decision. During the whole incident, the referee was composed, cool, calm and confident (at least on the outside). Please see the SUMMARY, after the freeze frames, to ponder and deliberate whether the referee made the correct decision.

Japan goalkeeper (yellow) is about to (mis)kick the ball with his left foot towards the Syria player standing in the middle of the field.

Did the Syria player (red with white boots) or Japan player (blue with black boots) kick the ball back toward the penalty area?

As the ball returns to the penalty area, the Japan goalkeeper (yellow) fouls the Syria player who is behind him and in an offside position.

Referee Torky ushers Japan coach off the pitch, while behind him players are surrounding the AR.

It took 5 minutes from the moment the Japan goalkeeper fouled a Syria player to the completion of the penalty kick.

Referee Torky decided that it was a Japan player who last touched the ball into the penalty area. Subsequently, the Syria player who was standing in an offside position behind the Japan goalkeeper, could legitimately play the ball. The Japan goalkeeper fouled the Syria player, and the referee awarded a penalty kick and then sent off the goalkeeper for DOGSO.


First and Foremost, the only real consideration to ACCEPT is that the referee at the time of the incident made a decision based on the best of his ability and experience. To his credit, he made the decision quickly and confidently. Furthermore, the referee kept cool, calm and composed throughout, despite how many times the players continuously argued with him and the fact that it took 5 minutes from the time of awarding of the penalty kick and send-off to the completion of the penalty kick. This is something POSITIVE to take from this incident. Torky was Composed and Confident, and remained Cool and Calm in the face of adversity.

The following issues are technical points, and should be taken in the context of being considerations only for post-match analysis. We have the benefit of repeat views, slow-motion replays, reverse backward, pause, magnification and several camera angles. Therefore:

1) Repeat views. Even after repeat views of the incident it is still not 100% clear which player—Syria or Japan—made the crucial touch that pushed the ball in to the penalty area. Without any definitive camera angles and close-ups, it could have been either player or both who touched the ball.

2) Pace of the ball and players’ body position. As the ball rebounds from the player(s) towards the penalty area, look at the pace of the ball. The pace of the ball indicates that there was good, solid contact (since the ball does not bobble up but instead rolls back along the ground at similar speed). Now look at the players. The Japan player, by desperately lunging, is overstretched and the weight of his left foot movement is mostly downward toward the ground rather than at the approaching ball. From simple mechanics, the ball would be hitting his foot (rather than his foot hitting the ball) and then would rebound (but this would not likely be a solid rebound and a “bobble” is likely). Contrast this with the Syria player who does not overstretch and appears to casually just jab (or toe-poke) the ball. From simple physics, the ball’s rebound movement implies that it made contact solidly and cleanly (i.e. the ball was kicked or toe-poked), mostly likely by the Syria player.

3) Players’ attitude and reactions. Now let’s look at the reaction of the two players. The Syria player had a casual attitude when competing for the ball. He did not appear too concerned about stretching himself, possibly because he knew he would get to the ball first (without overstretching himself). And, assuming he got to the ball first, because he could not control the ball (which rebounded from him right back to the penalty area), and since he knew that his team-mate was obviously in an offside position, he therefore wasn’t too concerned about heading enthusiastically towards goal. Furthermore, let’s assume it was the Japan player who actually played the ball back towards his own goal, then the Syria player’s reaction would have been to exploit the situation by either yelling at this team-mate and his team to play on, and/or he would do his utmost to move towards the goal and ball. The Syria player’s non-reaction perhaps tells us the real answer! But then again, the Syria player could have just been really tired (but these are meant to be professional players, so this explanation is probably difficult to accept).

In contrast, the Japan player was committed to tackling and winning the ball. He just kept on running into the penalty area after the ball, most likely because his commitment to trying to win the ball and his momentum carried him on into the penalty area. So either he didn’t touch the ball and didn’t think about the fact that an opponent was in an offside position and so continued running towards the ball, or he did touch the ball and thought he had better continue in his pursuit of the ball. Whatever scenario for the Japan player, it is difficult to fathom the real reason why he continued running into the penalty area after the ball. This is why it is better to look at the reaction of the Syria player.

Even another attacking Syria player (#6) closest to the AR stopped, and therefore possibly knew that his team-mate was in an offside position. Syria player #6 had the same thought (and similar viewing angle) as the AR. That is, both the AR and Syria #6 thought the ball was kicked forward by Syria and therefore the most forward Syria player was offside.


The referee made his decision quickly, confidently and remained cool and calm to sell his decision. Whether it was the right decision, technically, is difficult to call. This is because, even after repeated views of the incident it is still not obviously clear which player—Syria or Japan—made the crucial touch that pushed the ball in to the penalty area.

Only with careful deliberation, countless replays, assessing factors for and against, and all the rest of the things we do in evaluating, can it be said that the referee probably got his decision more incorrect than correct. And if the referee was not 100% sure that the ball did come off the Japan player, then it would be a very brave referee indeed to make that call. As we saw, the referee made a bold decision and sold the decision well. He remained cool, calm, and confident and was very well composed. All credit to the referee. No one can really step in his shoes at that moment, so his brave decision must be applauded (and must be accepted by players, coaches, fans and everyone else).

Here are some videoclips of the incident:

This one in particular has a well-balanced and intelligent analysis, as well as some interesting comments and views.

SYRIA vs JAPAN 1-2 Full Highlights 13-01-2011 Japan 2-1 Syria

Kawashima Red Card Sent Off Controversy, Japan vs Syria (2-1) 2011 AFC Asian Cup Group B

Japan 2-1 Syria 2011 AFC Asian Cup Group B All Goals Full Highlights

NOTE: Another technical point is that the referee sent off the Japan goalkeeper for DOGSO. However the Syria player, who was behind the goalkeeper, was not heading towards goal. Technically, this is one of the conditions that referees are taught to use when considering whether there has been a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Common sense tells us that had the Syria player not been fouled, he would have had time to turn and create an obvious goal scoring opportunity before being challenged by other players. However it can be argued that, technically, the player was not heading towards goal.

Friday 7 January 2011

FA Ban Lee Bowyer For Three Matches In Stamping Incident

Having reviewed video evidence, the FA has banned Birmingham City midfielder Lee Bowyer for three matches. This is apparently for the incident where Bowyer maliciously stamped on Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna during the Birmingham and Arsenal premier league match on 1 January 2011. The final score was 0—3.

However the other malicious incident, where Bowyer raked his studs down into Sagna’s right ankle and Achilles heel, appears to have been forgotten or dismissed. Here are freeze frames of both incidents.

Also note the position of referee Peter Walton at both incidents; Walton said he did not see anything during either clash.

First Incident

Initially, referee Peter Walton is near and has an unobstructed view ... however his gaze may have followed the ball after it had left the area at the halfway line where Sagna was lying on the pitch

Second Incident
Referee Peter Walton is near and has an unobstructed view of Bowyer's contact with Sagna

Moments following the second incident (in the 69th minute), Birmingham manager Alex McLeish substituted Bowyer, seemingly because he feared Bowyer’s unsporting actions would sooner or later get him sent off.

What is interesting is both managers’ refusal to condemn Bowyer, as they made their excuses in “not having seen the incident” or have “not seen any replays”.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger preferred not to highlight Bowyer's actions after the game. He said: 'I do not want to talk too much about that because I haven't seen any replays. During the game, it was very difficult the challenge on Fabregas (by Roger Johnson) and Sagna (by Bowyer). I will watch that again and give you my opinion later.'

McLeish said that he 'did not see it' when asked about Bowyer's alleged stamp in his post-match press conference.

Funny! It appears nobody at that match wanted to commit to saying they saw something … least of all the referee!

Stamp Out Stamping (related posts)

Sunday 2 January 2011

Hands On Hands Off Goalkeepers

First, a very Happy New Year to everyone. And second, thank you for taking the time to read some of the posts here.

Now, onto today’s post about goalkeepers and when they are in possession of the ball.

The following incident occurred during the New Year’s Eve A-league match between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory on Friday 31 December 2010. The final score was 1—2.

In the 87th minute, the match was precariously balanced at 1—1 (although the Mariners are one man down following a send-off in the 53rd minute). Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan fumbled a goal-bound shot from the Victory, and as Ryan turned around to scoop up the ball with both his hands, Victory player Grant Brebner rushed in and kicked the ball from out of his hands and into the net. It was the winning goal. Here are the two freeze frames.

[Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan has the ball between his hands]

Should the goal have been allowed? Despite the fumble, did the goalkeeper gain possession of the ball before it was kicked by an opponent?

Here’s what the Laws state:

A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball:

• while the ball is between his hands or between his hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body)

When a goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball with his hands, he cannot be challenged by an opponent.

In the match report, everyone apparently accepts that the goalkeeper made a mistake and paid for it by conceding the winning goal.

IMHO, it would not be incorrect for the referee to whistle for a foul against the Victory player for playing in a dangerous manner, and awarding a direct free kick to the defending team (because there was obviously contact between the players).

Related Post

Two-footed Challenges Are Considered Serious Foul Play