The recent furore around different interpretations of laws in football has led to even larger feuds between football fans. It begs the question about whether or not the referees understand the laws, and whether the FA themselves even understand their own laws.

It's not a lot to ask for a bit of consistency, when within a month we see Frank Lampard escape a red card for a dangerous tackle against Wolves, before Vincent Kompany is sent off for a ball-winning tackle, albeit two-footed, against Manchester United. Then just three days Glen Johnson escapes without even conceding a free-kick for a similar tackle to that of Kompany's on Wednesday night.

I don't like to get pedantic but for the purposes of the article I'm going to have to. I tried not to be biased on Sunday, but being a United fan against City, it's difficult not to. I thought nowadays that referees were told to clamp down on two-footed challenges, whether the ball was won or not, which is why I initially agreed with Chris Foy's decision, and agreed with Roberto Mancini last night when he asked what was so different about Johnson's tackle compared to Kompany's.

The law states a red card can be given in a two-footed tackle if the referee believes excessive force has been used in the tackle. Looking at the replays, it's hard to argue that there was excessive force in either of the tackles, yet one was a red card and one wasn't even a free-kick. The fact referees show this inconsistency is frustrating for fans, and the fact the FA upheld Kompany's ban, therefore going against their own rulebook is equally frustrating, and a bit baffling.

It did get me a little how City fans were quick to jump on United fans about the red card, I personally wouldn't have sent Kompany off, neither would I have sent Johnson off, the interpretation of a 'dangerous' tackle these days is all too vague, any tackle is dangerous, ask Eduardo, or Aaron Ramsey. Theo Walcott dislocated a shoulder falling from an innocuous challenge a couple of years ago. Kompany & Johnson clearly won the ball and caused no harm to the opposition player, yet both were dealt with at separate ends of the spectrum.

I can have some sympathy with referees, there have been enough incidents in recent seasons where a red card has been produced for a two-footed tackle, and it does appear they've been asked to clamp down on this issue. I can at least understand why Foy sent Kompany off, whether people think that is right or wrong is up for debate, and whilst many don't agree, it baffles me how so many, not just City fans, can't understand why it was given.

It doesn't appear anymore there is a rulebook in football, each individual referee has his own interpretation of what warrants a red card and what doesn't, who's to say on a different week, Kompany would have escaped punishment Glen Johnson would be staring a three-match ban square in the face?

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Comment by Paul Bennett on January 19, 2012 at 12:59

"The law states a red card can be given in a two-footed tackle if the referee believes excessive force has been used in the tackle."

It also states :- "A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as
serious foul play."

The referee obviously took that view with Kompany's tackle.

Whilst it's down to the referees opinion, there will always be some who agree, and some who don't.

Comment by Team of Skinheads on January 17, 2012 at 22:16

Football would be a lot more boring if it weren't for refereeing mistakes. The rule is mostly about excessive force and endangering the opponent, after that it's down to how the ref saw it on the day. Even after a lot of replays people disagree.


I thought Kompany's tackle deserved a warning, I thought that he tried to get his left leg out of the way which was what made it look more like a lunge. That's just the way I saw it and thought that he made sure he was making no contact whatsoever with his left foot. I can see why others would disagree though.


Johnson's was a straight red in my view, pretty stupid tackle from him to be honest.


I watched MOTD at the weekend and Shearer was calling for more clarity in the rules regarding these challenges but like Gary Lineker said at the time - how can the rules get any clearer, it's down to the discretion of the referee. It's like asking for more clarity over the handball rule and what constitutes as a deliberate handball, attempting to clarify this would just complicate things further.


The issue that concerns me far more is that they can't punish anyone (Johnson, for example) retrospectively because the ref saw it at the time, what a ridiculous rule that is. Can they not let the referee watch a replay of the game and then punish certain things in extreme cases. It isn't something that would get out of hand either as refs won't want to highlight their own errors, the only thing you'd worry about is whether the furore after one of these incidents would affect their judgement. Maybe they could do this directly after the game while writing their report. It wouldn't help City as they still had to play against eleven but it would be the correct punishment for a bad challenge and would hopefully help to stamp these tackles out of the game.





Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on January 13, 2012 at 13:50

"so the crux really is the inconsistency of the refereeing"

Until theres video technology, retrospective punishment and rules changes (all 3) you will not be able to get anywhere near consistancy you want from refs. Even then, whoever makes the decision via the video or retrospectively is going to have players, managers, pundits and fans disagreeing with them.

Comment by Reggie on January 13, 2012 at 13:05

Consistency is needed but if a ref can't give it at the time then someone or thing else has to.  Retrospective red cards aren't really good enough IMHO.  I'm not getting into the johnson/kompany debate, it's a not starter, I just don't care enough, johnson got away with it, kompany didn't end of, nothing going to change it and all the whining in the world won't make a difference either way, as is rooneys alleged waving of a red card, all teams do it in one way or another, city are just bitter, nothing going to change there either.


so the crux really is the inconsistency of the refereeing and the law unto themselves that is the FA.  Clubs really should take the FA to task over all of this, they hand out punishments to managers like they are smarties or scooby snacks, just because a manager dares to speak his mind over a poor decision, the FA have rock solid refused to budge on their positions, do you know they have something ridiculous like a 99.5% 'conviction' rate?

The FA work for clubs, not the other way round, or at least that's the way it should be, without the clubs the FA would be a bunch of suits standing around with a bunch of blokes in shorts.

This has been going on for years, it's not just this year, or last year or the year before, what will it take for the FA to listen?  What will it take for the FA to become a real modern institution instead of a communist era dictatorship or a military tribunal?

Comment by WorldClass on January 13, 2012 at 10:07

Sorry dave, I just hadn;t finished my rant... it wasn't aimed at you lol, not a morning person I like a good whinge to get it out of my system lol... all Happy now... go and have a read of the open letter to Villa season ticket holder if you want a giggle... its the official letter from McLeish... go read he interpretation of how he manages... lol

Comment by David O'Loughlin on January 13, 2012 at 9:54

I think we're actually agreeing! Maybe I wasn't clear. People are clamouring for the days when Johnsons tackle and Kompany's tackle would have been allow because that was real proper defending.


I'm saying that they're wrong, the defending now that players like Ferdinand or even Vidic and Dunne (tough but fair) is proper defending because reading the game and making proper fair tackles takes more skill and technique than diving in two footed.

Comment by WorldClass on January 13, 2012 at 9:27

The Art of defending or defending in a system... Skill and Technique... and then we're talking about Glen Johnson as an international Fullback... I disagree.

Even if Johnson and Kompany got the ball they still could have broken the opposing players leg but it makes it no more or less dangerous player if he leaves a man in a heap or if he does it 10 yards away from a player. No place for it on the pitch, I have quite strong feeling about tackles like this after being victim to one when I was 18 and having my Knee Cap surgically put back in it original place... the guy was't trying to hurt me, we were having a good tussle, but he got carried away and dived in on a 40/60(to me) tackle like a mad man... He came ot see me in hospital such was his guilt and I am not suggesting Johnson was malicious in what he did, but no doubt the out come could have been bad for both players...

Comment by David O'Loughlin on January 13, 2012 at 9:09

If anything the art of defending is alive more than ever. Now you need actual skill and technique to defend. A fair but precise tackle is now something great to see rather than some tackles of yesteryear where the aim was to dive in towards the ball as fast as you can while getting it is optional. People talk about how Johnson and Kompany got the ball, but as WorldClass said what if they didn't. Is it worth seeing players breaking legs for a 'crunching' tackle?


As for the after game reporting, I agree with 100% WorldClass. I've always said if a referee could make his report after re-watching the game then it would be for the benefit of everyone. Not just bad tackles, but dives and blatant cheating would be caught. If a referee sees a ball clearly go out off a man for a throw and the man then claims it, one match ban. That'd stop that fairly quickly. If you're caught diving, three match ban. Players will try harder to stay up so as to not risk it. At the start there would be a rash of bans, yes, but players and managers would learn quickly. If I could implement just one rule, this would be it. Simple but extremely effective.

Comment by WorldClass on January 13, 2012 at 8:51

The art of defending has died... Who remembers Paul McGrath? How often did you see that man throw him self, two footed at the ball... never. People compare it to the days when defenders uses to kick lumps out of players... but in large they where hard players but nasty players... no one wants to see the crunching tackle outlawed... after scoring goals, crunching tackles always get the crowd going... but mindless lunges endangering other professionals?

I'm sure there is a law that already covers all of this, if there is something within the laws about showing professional courtesy to fellow players...  well there was when i did the refereeing course back in the day. Do they call it gentlemanly conduct any more?

Had Johnson miss timed that jump lunge, kick  (i'm going to call it a "tackle") or Lescott put his foot in, it could have ended Lescotts career... no place for it, simples.

The referee can't see everything perfectly on the pitch, he may think he's seen something on the pitch that didn't look to bad from 40 yards away, but after watching it on TV he realised how dangerous it was, but of course referees don't get that luxury, their report has to come directly from what they saw in the nano seconds on the pitch, which isn't fair on the ref and doesn't help the FA control and punish this behaviour that endangers people health.

The ref missed it, it happens, however the FA should be able to say that the incident was serious enough for them to dish out punishment after the game... 

A footballer is just a normal bloke with a bit of training, so is a doctor, a pilot, a captain.... the ref can't be blamed.. this is not the issue, would that referee have a problem if a FA decided that the lunge my Johnson meritted a Red card and gave his a suspension? I very much doubt it, and it would also give other ref a defining line to work from, a example, and also an admition that ref make mistakes, but in general many of them do a decent enough job. 

Mark Lawrenson said he saw nothing wrong with the tackle... as did Shearer... so how is getting ex pro's involved going to help, this is a myth IMO... what the refs need is a clear definition of the rules, but also the leeway to hand out red cards after the match after he has had a chance to review a replay of the game. Same goes for players diving... if players knew that after the game the ref can watch the match and hand out red cards for incidents serious enough for suspensions I think managers would quickly drum this cheating out of the game....  

The onus is always on the refs to pull this behaviour up, but what about the onus on the clubs to get it out of their players? With the ref having the ability to hand out red cards for a period of 2 hours after the game suddenly manager will see player are going to get caught out, sure they may not suffer that game, but for the next 3 or 4 they will have to do without the player... it's better than nothing and the onus will then be on the players to stop doing knowing they will get caught.

Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on January 12, 2012 at 23:48
Is there anyone else who feels like the skill of tackling has died?

I mean, to tackle the opponent is to challenge an opponent and come away with the ball. Ive played football since I can remember, so many training sessions, under so many coaches and not once have I been taught how to do 'the lunge'. We hear from ex-pros and pundits that played during the 70s & 80s how it's important to 'let the winger know your there', 'take the ball, take the man'. Considering most coaches at the top clubs were pro players at the same time, are the current top players being taught this?

Let me put it this way, how many two-footed, stud showing tackle are successful? By successful I mean the perpetrator dribbles away with the ball. The answer is none because your not in a position to come away with the ball as your still on your ass, probably with your victim in a crumpled heap on top of you.


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