Thursday, 18 August 2011

Corner Kick Offence Is A Symptom of Disrespectful Player Attitude

The following incident occurred during an MLS match between DC United and Houston Dynamo on Saturday 25 June 2011. The match finished 2—2.

DC United corner kick. From this camera view, the ball does not appear to be on the corner arc.

There appears to be a creeping prevalence of players sneaking the ball closer to the penalty area from corner kicks on the Referee's side of the pitch. These are professional players, not junior players, who can supposedly drop the ball on a dime anywhere in the penalty area from a corner kick. So the matter of sneaking a few extra centimetres should be of no concern or benefit to them. And yet, this kind of incident occurs time and again. Why? Why do players sneak a few centimentres from corner kicks?

There are several reasons that can be proposed ... but this post will discuss one.

One possible reason comes exclusively from the Referee's perspective of how players behave with respect to Sportsmanship and with respect to the Laws of the Game. The Respect campaign attempts to tell players to respect opposing players and to respect match officials. For example, in a Champions League match we have seen Referee Jonas Eriksson tell players the following:
This is the word respect. Respect for the two teams between the players, and for the referees.

And yet, do players respect their opposition? And do players respect match officials, who are present to uphold the Laws? Hardly (see Education, Education, Education and Referees in Tune with Team Tactics, as examples of player behaviour).

In the competitive game, players do not give respect to opposing teams or to match officials. Granted, there are exceptions, but generally speaking players and coaches and fans just want their team to win ... and usually at any cost. They will contest and challenge every decision that goes against them, and they will accept every decision that comes their way ... with little or no regard to upholding Sportsmanship or complying with the Laws of the Game.

Observers can see this behaviour in action whenever the ball goes out of play. Players will yell out "corner" or "goal kick" depending on whether they are the attacking team or the defending team, respectively. They will claim it is their throw in when the ball crosses over the touch line (and also when the ball does NOT cross over the touch line). Where's the Sportsmanship? Where's the respect for the Laws of the Game?

So, let's get back to the question: Why do players sneak a few centimetres from corner kicks?

Answer: Because players go out there on the field of play with the unsporting and disrespectful attitude that every decision should be to their advantage with little reference to the play unfolding before them. If they can cheat their way into claiming a throw in or a corner kick, then this attitude logically lends itself to players sneaking a few centimetres at corner kicks even though, at the professional level, they do not gain any advantage from doing so. That's the disrespectful attitude of many players that match officials have to deal with all over the world.

As mentioned in a previous post, match officials:
have to rely on their resilience, tolerance, inner-strength and education to rise above the uncouth behaviour of players, managers, fans and commentators.

The best foundation for Referees is to ensure, and be seen to ensure, complete integrity, honesty and commitment to the Laws of the Game.

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