Anybody who regularly goes to a football match will tell you that they rarely come away 100% totally happy with the referee’s performance. Admittedly sometimes it’s because their team has been beaten by a last-minute penalty, which was never a penalty in a million years – unless of course it had been awarded in their team’s favour, in which case it was nailed on.
I was at a game last weekend when one of the players was injured in a tackle and understandably went down in pain clutching his ankle.
The referee awarded the free kick and told the offender not to do it again as the injured player, still in a fair amount of pain, attempted to get back on his feet and run it off. Unfortunately the fourth official had already taken it upon himself to wave the physio on to the pitch, who only got a few yards before being waved off again by the injured player and his team-mates.
Bizarrely the recovering player was nonetheless ordered off the pitch by the referee even though he hadn’t actually received any treatment for the injury.
Even if that injured player had received treatment, should he really be ordered to leave the pitch leaving his team at a disadvantage while the player who committed the foul is allowed to continue as normal?
It’s not exactly an advantage to go down to ten men when you’re about to put a free kick into the box, particularly when that offender is allowed to help defend it.
We all understand the idea of the rule and why it was introduced but all it really seems to do is punish the injured player and his team. How often does that ruling actually serve its intended purpose and deter time-wasters or players feigning injury?
This is just one of many rules introduced with good intentions to improve the game, but time has proven that they have not only failed to achieve that purpose, but are simply viewed as petty and unfair rules that we – the fans – continue to endure week in, week out when they quite clearly should have been abolished.
PETTY RULES, RIDICULOUS RULES & ‘GREY AREAS’
Of course there are not just those rules that punish the innocent that are ruining our game, there are also those rules that simply take the enjoyment out of the game for everyone involved.
It’s seems absurd that while the main objective of a football match is to score a goal, everyone at some time or another has witnessed one of their players being booked or even sent off for either removing their shirt or simply joining the fans in celebrating a goal.
Then there are those rules that seem simple enough but then occasionally fall into what some people call a ‘grey area’. Only last weekend we saw Younès Kaboul’s header find it’s way past Joe Hart who was almost certainly hindered by the presence of Jermain Defoe, who was standing in his line of vision.
Although Defoe was in an offside position, because he didn’t actually touch or attempt to touch the ball, in the eyes of the law he was not interfering with play and therefore the goal stood. Another referee on another day would have disallowed the goal.
A player can be sent off for denying a ‘clear goalscoring opportunity’ yet there doesn’t seem to be any clear guidelines as to what that actually means, and with many of these ‘grey areas’, everyone has their own interpretations.
TECHNOLOGY & RULES WE WANT INTRODUCED
Despite some of these petty, unfair, and in some cases quite ridiculous rules, there are still those rules that football is crying out for, yet for whatever reason, the authorities are simply reluctant to introduce them.
Sebastian Larsson’s handball during the recent Tyne-Wear derby again saw the on-going debate for the introduction of video technology rear its head once again. TV replays showed Howard Webb was not in a position to see the incident (whether his positioning can be questioned is another matter).
Despite TV replays and video evidence, more severe retrospective punishments cannot be issued if the referee has already acted at the time of the incident. Similarly players are powerless to appeal against yellow cards or red cards if shown two yellows.
Don’t even get me started on goal-line technology, but the reluctance from the authorities to introduce technology into the game that cannot be introduced at all levels is all very well, but they seem quite happy to introduce extra officials behind each goal solely for Champions League games when it suits.
RULES THAT NOBODY TAKES ANY NOTICE OF
Now we come to the rules that nobody takes any notice of until its suddenly decided there will be a crackdown for a couple of weeks until the novelty wears off again.
These range from goalkeepers having to release the ball from their hands after six seconds, players encroaching into the area before a penalty is taken, and goalkeepers moving off their goal line before a penalty is taken.
By the letter of the law, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny’s recent penalty save against Udinese should have meant a retake as he was at least a yard and half off his goal line when the ball was kicked.
THE INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION BOARD (IFAB)
So who makes up the rules?
Well, the Laws of the Game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which was founded in 1886.
The IFAB is made up of FIFA representatives and the four ‘home’ associations. They are, The FA (England), Scottish FA, FA of Wales and the Irish FA (Northern Ireland) and they are historically regarded as guardians of the Laws of the Game. This is due to the original role Great Britain, and especially England, played in establishing the first set of Laws, which date from the formation of The FA in 1863.
The original Laws have changed slightly over the years and today’s laws continue to be based upon those rules that were first introduced by the Board in 1886.
Changes have occurred in accordance with the specific evolution and demands of modern-day football, but the key element remains of football being seen as essentially a simple game, with laws that can be applied in the same way at any level from the World Cup Final to a friendly game on a local park.
When a new rule is proposed, each British association has one vote each, while FIFA, which represents all its other member associations, has four. A three-quarter majority is required for any proposal to be passed, (i.e. six of the eight votes) to be passed.
RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN
In July the Premier League abolished the ‘weakened team’ rule that had seen Wolves and more recently Blackpool fined for giving fringe players the chance of first team action, so it proves that change is possible.
Our very own FA, as ‘guardians of the Laws of the Game’, surely has a duty to at least propose that some of these crazy rules are abolished. Unfortunately, it seems we are still at the mercy of FIFA when it comes to any decisions actually being made.
Tags: arsenal, Champion's League, Jermain Defoe, Joe Hart, Manchester City, Premier League, Referees, RESPECT, The FA, Tottenham Hotspur, Wojciech Szczęsny