Friday, 20 January 2012

Similar Similar Means Different Part 2

This post continues on from Part 1 and will conclude its message by repeating the difference between PIADM and SFP, and hence hopefully explaining the difference between Glen Johnson's two-footed challenge and Vincent Kompany's two-footed challenge.

Remember, despite what many people mistakenly believe, not all two-footed challenges fall in to the category of serious foul play.

First though please take a look at another two-footed challenge, this time from an A-League match between Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory on New Year's Eve, which was very similar to Glen Johnson's PIADM and not similar to Vincent Kompany's SFP. The match finished 1—1. Here are the freeze frames:
Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet (white 4) challenges for the ball against Newcastle Jet's Tiago Calvano (blue/red 5)

Referee Strebre Delovski, who appeared to be quite far away from the incident, quickly sent off Mehmet for serious foul play

IMHO, this was a harsh decision and was perhaps possibly probably influenced by Calvano's reaction during his tumble and also by the home bench's reaction. Mehmet's challenge was more in the category of PIADM and deserved at most a caution. It would be interesting to know whether Perth Glory appealed this red card decision.


Let's consider the path of the ball, and the approach of the two moving players. The path of the ball is parallel along the touch line and Newcastle Jet's Tiago Calvano is running after the ball along the same path. Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet approaches the ball from a perpendicular angle. Mehmet's aim is focused entirely on the ball. Yes, he lunges with both feet. But most importantly, he is not lunging at his opponent. This is why this situation should be considered PIADM and not as SFP. Here are more freeze frames:

Let's not get unnecessarily drawn in to Calvano's reaction as he goes down. Instead, Mehmet's challenge is PIADM because it "threatens injury". In this instance, although unintentional, Mehmet probably caused injury with his cocked elbow making contact with Calvano's "family jewels" and this is an example of why this type of challenge "threatens injury". [Yes, pun intended!]

Also, we must not forget that Mehmet risked injury to himself too since an onrushing opponent is also approaching toward the ball. For example, take a look at Calvano's right boot. Since he was beaten to the ball by Mehmet, Calvano could have easily stamped on Mehmet by locking his knee and straightening his leg. Thankfully, he did not do that.

Further photos and video highlights from the match can be found here on the official website.

Playing in a dangerous manner (PIADM)

Playing in a dangerous manner is defined as any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player himself). It is committed with an opponent nearby and prevents the opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.

Playing in a dangerous manner involves no physical contact between the players. If there is physical contact, the action becomes an offence punishable with a direct free kick or penalty kick. In the case of physical contact, the referee should carefully consider the high probability that misconduct has also been committed.

If a player plays in a dangerous manner in a "normal" challenge, the referee should not take any disciplinary action. If the action is made with obvious risk of injury, the referee should caution the player.


Liverpool's Glen Johnson and Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet made very similar challenges, respectively. These two challenges fall into the PIADM category because both these players:
1) were trying to play the ball;

2) threatened injury; and

3) committed physical contact which justifies giving a direct free kick and probably warranted a caution.

Unlike with Billy Mehmet's challenge, there is no white touch line to conveniently show what angle Glen Johnson approached the path of the ball. Johnson's angle of approach was certainly not at his opponent. However, it was also not the same as Mehmet's angle of approach (i.e. not perpendicular to the path of the ball) and appeared to be less than 90 degrees. It was most probably between 30-45 degrees.

Since all these three challenges were "two-footed lunges", the crucial difference is that Manchester City's Vincent Kompany lunged at his opponent.

The two lunges by Liverpool's Glen Johnson and Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet:
1) were not made at an opponent;

2) did not endanger the safety of an opponent but instead threatened injury; and

3) did not use brutality against an opponent, although there are grounds that these lunges may be regarded as using excessive force (but were they against an opponent?).

The Laws Of The Game defines the fine line between PIADM and SFP. What is interesting is how various Referees interpret this fine line. The Chris Foy Vincent Kompany incident illustrates just how diverse are the opinions of Referees, specifically as regards to player safety and welfare.

There are interesting reasons why opinions among Referees can be so diverse (but that is perhaps a topic for another time). Instead, and although very easy to say, the view is that:
More training and instruction for Referees may be needed to ensure better consistency in the application of Law 12. In addition, the relevant authorities such as the FA and the PGMOL should engage all interested parties and help clarify the official position regarding what is and what is not acceptable regarding tackles.

Should further information be needed about why Vincent Kompany's challenge was a send off, please see Part 3.
[Unfortunately, this may also indicate that I have failed to convincingly make the case in Parts 1 and 2 for Chris Foy The Courageous!]

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