Sunday 11 December 2011

Sebastian's Shameless Swandive

The following incident occurred during the EPL match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland on Sunday 4 December 2011. The match finished 2—1.

In the 72', Referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty to Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson (blue), who appeared to be tripped by Wolves' Jody Craddock (orange). Here are the freeze frames:

Wolves Jody Craddock (orange) appears to trip Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson (blue)

TV replays show there was no contact and Sebastian Larsson (blue) had dived in from outside the area

Let's consider the facts and determine the correct decision to restart.

Fact: TV replays show Jody Craddock (orange) withdrew his right foot and did not make any contact with Sebastian Larsson (blue).

First, could the AR have helped in determining whether the incident occurred outside or inside the penalty area? If there was contact (and TV replays proved there was not), would it have occurred outside or inside? We know Referee Dowd awarded the penalty, but what did the AR see?

Second, did Referee Phil Dowd actually have an unobstructed view of the incident? In addition to the fact that the incident happened very quickly, a defending player also ran in between the Referee and the incident and may have obscured the Referee's line of vision?
Did Referee Phil Dowd have an unobstructed view?

At first look, and with another player perhaps getting in the way, the Referee felt he had enough information (and used all his experience) to award a penalty. Although the facts reveal it was the wrong decision to award a penalty, it is perhaps understandable why the Referee awarded a penalty. However, questions should be asked whether the Referee and/or the AR saw any contact?

Third, if the Referee knew there was no contact between the defender and attacker, whether outside or inside the area, what should have been the call?

If the Referee knows there was no contact and believes the attacker was looking for the foul, then the correct decision would be to caution the attacker for unsporting behaviour and award an IFK at the place of the incident to the defending team.

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