Wednesday 7 December 2011

Cynical Challenges Creeping In

From a safety point of view, I have never liked it when players use the bottom of their boots to play the ball. And for what it is worth, from an aesthetic perspective, it also looks rather ugly, uncouth and inelegant.

The following incident occurred during the EPL match between Manchester City and Norwich City on Saturday 3 December 2011. The match finished 5—1.

Early in the match, Norwich forward Steve Morison (yellow) steered the ball towards the penalty area but his heavy touch meant the ball was running away from his control. In seeing the Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart come off his line to intercept, Morison rather cynically challenged for the ball with his studs up. Here are the freeze frames:

Norwich forward Steve Morison (yellow) cynically challenges for the ball, thereby potentially endangering the safety of his opponent

At the very least, Referee Howard Webb should have awarded a free kick to Man City. It is technically correct to deem the goalkeeper had possession of the ball, since the ball is in contact with the goalkeepers' hand and the ground.

If enough Referees identify such challenges and act on them—by awarding a DFK or IFK plus any appropriate sanctions—players may eventually think twice before making cynical challenges. This blog advocates the message of "Studs Alert: Stamp Out Stamping".

For further consideration, let's have a look at previous examples posted on this blog.

Example One Evan's Eviction
This is an example of Manchester United defender Jonathan Evans maliciously stamping his presence in the game. Referee Andre Marriner correctly sent off Evans.

Example Two Nasty Tackles 2010-11 EPL Tackles Round 36
Unfortunately, these nasty tackles in various EPL matches were not appropriately dealt with by the respective Referees.

Example Three Sorensen's Safety
Chelsea's Salomon Kalou's cynical challenge ensured that Stoke's Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen missed out on the 2010 World Cup finals.

Players making cynical challenges endanger the safety of their opponents. Such players will invariably use the excuse that they were "going for the ball", but Referees (and others who appreciate the Beautiful Game) understand the real reason why players make these cynical challenges. The reason is this: If the unsporting player loses out in the 50-50 challenge for the ball that is a mere inconvenience, but what really matters is that he has made sure he has not lost out in the real challenge that counts (i.e. the physical and/or psychological challenge with his opponent).

It is a player's choice whether he (and she) chooses to challenge for the ball either cynically or sportingly. A good rule of thumb for Referees to judge cynical challenges is to always consider whether the same player would do exactly the same if his opponent was actually his fellow team-mate, a relative or a good friend.

Let's Stamp Out Stamping

Related Posts (search for: stamp)

Recognizing Player Behaviour: 1991 FA Cup Final

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