The FA need to take a leaf out of the UEFA and FFF’s playbook regarding players’ physical integrity and inflicting injuries, and they also need to upgrade the disciplinary process.
UEFA has made it a top priority to protect the players, as mentioned recently by Pierluigi Collina, while in France, yellows are often turned into reds and bans extended for injuring a player.
Back in 2011, he said that protecting the players meant taking action against serious foul play and reckless tackles. “We do not want to see broken legs,” the Italian emphasised.
“We have to avoid the potential for a player to see his health endangered by someone else.
“We do not need doctors on the pitch.
“We have to convince players not to put the safety of an opponent in danger.
“Respecting opponents and protecting players is one of our main objectives.”
That view was recently reiterated at the beginning of the 2015/16 season:
“UEFA is committed to protecting the safety of the players and referees have always been recommended to take every action needed to prevent serious injuries from occurring and they will continue to do so.
“Referees have been reminded that they must be very careful in assessing challenges that could endanger the safety of an opponent, even when the ball has been played, and to take the required action. It’s not a new instruction, as nothing has changed in either the Laws of the Game or their interpretation.”
Collina has also urged players to be aware of the risks associated with challenges that are made at high speed and with little or no control of the body (think Shawcross on Ramsey).
We know that the FA do not really care about the players’ integrity as you never hear from them about it. Jurgen Klopp was quite surprised when he first arrived at Liverpool and discovered the English way of refereeing.
“With the fourth official I only ask because I don’t understand some decisions,” Klopp said.
“He has a similar view that I have, so I asked him – how do you see this situation?
“I try to learn everything about English football and it’s important for us to know how English referees react in situations because it was really different in the last weeks.
“Of course, they are individuals but there was one situation on the sideline at Chelsea, very dynamic, where there was no foul but in my opinion they have to say to the player: ‘Please, if you hit the leg it is broken so wait, be calm and be cool in this situation’.
“I asked the fourth official if that was not a situation where you could talk with the player.
“He said: ‘No. If he hit him then we can talk with him.’ No, no. If he had hit him then we would have been talking about a very different thing.”
I mean seriously? The referee won’t talk to the players to calm them down until they have broken someones leg? Nice one really, not
Nice one really, not to try to diffuse a problem before it has happened. Reactive when it is too late rather than proactive.
Follow the French
There is an excellent rule in France where referees who have previously booked a player for a foul can upgrade the yellow card to a red card if a player is seriously injured. This has been a rule from 2009 circulaire 5.13 from the DNA in France, the equivalent of the PGMOL.
First there is a reminder that “every tackle made with disproportionate or unnecessary force must be punished with a red card.”
You can imagine if Premier League referees correctly applied that rule, some of the violence on the pitch would progressively disappear.
Then the DNA recommends to the referees that when a foul is not immediately seen as violent or brutal so they issue a yellow card, but it becomes clear by the nature of the injury that it was a violent tackle, they should not hesitate to change it to a red before the game has restarted.
The FA are also extremely lenient on players who badly injure other players. Suspensions can range from zero games for the Cech head injury to a standard three-game-ban in the Eduardo/Ramsey cases. Poke someone in the eye? That might get you a seven-game ban, though!
It clearly sends the wrong message to players. A standard three-game-ban just tells them that they are OK breaking someone’s leg and and you won’t suffer any more punishment than if you had merely shoved him to the ground..
If you look at what the FFF offers as a minimum punishment:
Red card fouls (carelessness, excess of physical engagement or combativity, possibility of endangering the physical integrity of the opponent) = standard three-game-ban in France as it does in England.
But the suspension can be extended, and this has happened in many cases.
For example, the Pierre Allain Frau case where it was extended to 10 games for injuring a Sedan player. Valentin Esseyric who injured Jeremy Clement got 11 games. Kurt Zouma also got 10 games for injuring Thomas Guerbert. Grandi N’Goyi received a 10-game-ban for injuring Outrebon from Troyes.
Maybe one day, the PGMOL and the FA will realise that playing football is about trying to put the ball in the back of the net and not about getting stuck in the opponent and being dangerous on the pitch.
As long as those two turn a blind eye and show leniency towards dodgy and dirty players, football will never be clean.
Blow for United in the race for top four, but were Fellaini and Huth’s actions really as bad as seriously injurying a player? Tell us on Twitter
Marouane Fellaini and Robert Huth to each serve three-match suspension: https://t.co/Yc4tRKHVSt
— The FA (@FA) May 5, 2016