Sunday 13 March 2011

Two Card Or Not To Card?

... that is the question.

Much has probably already been said about Massimo Busacca awarding a second caution to Robin van Persie during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg between Barcelona and Arsenal on Tuesday 8 March 2011. The match finished 3—1, with Barcelona advancing to the quarter-finals 4—3 on aggregate.

This post is not a critique of Busacca's specific decision, general performance and whole reading of the match. Instead, this post attempts to raise awareness of the way some top referees publicly award cards ... or not!

Two card (Busacca) ... or not to card (Walton)

Simultaneously Showing Two Cards
Some may say that Busacca's style (an edgy, nervous, intense but totally focused approach) lends itself to quickly showing the red card for a second cautionable offence before he has time to put down the yellow card. Some may even say that this is a clear way to communicate the reason for the send off. IMHO, it is an untidy and altogether rushed action. For a second cautionable offence, it is better if the referee first shows the yellow card, puts it down, and then shows the red card.

Showing No Card At All
Red and yellow cards are used to communicate that a player, substitute or substituted player has been sent off or cautioned, respectively. Technically, the referee can just tell the actual player that he has received a send off or caution while the public display of a card is primarily used to communicate to others what the referee has decided.

While fans, commentators, players and coaches were understandably amused, by not having any cards to display during an English Premier League match between Everton and Birmingham on Wednesday 9 March 2011, referee Peter Walton gave out another public message. That the referee had not prepared well.

For a professional match official, this is shocking. Although not quite as shocking or inexcusable as a professional match official forgetting to properly apply the LOTG (e.g. beach ball incident).

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