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Imaginary Red Cards For Imaginary Rules

Tuesday 17th January 2012
Man City may have stumbled out of their first blip of this season with an important 1-0 win over rock-bottom Wigan Athletic last night, thanks to an intelligent headed goal by Edin Dzeko, some professional possession play and impregnable defending.

But headlines were dominated once again by Roberto Mancini's ‘imaginary red card', brandished after Maynor Figueroa's indefensible handball – but the question is, why was it only Mancini waving a red card?
Let's get one thing straight first – deliberate handball is a red card offence, period. Read the rules, whether it prevented a goalscoring opportunity or not, it was heinous.

Mick McCarthy recently took the liberty of holding a press conference in order to express his disgust at Stuart Attwell and the FA's decision not to rescind the red card shown to Wolves' Nenad Milijas on Boxing Day.

That was the start of a whole host of disputable red card incidents involving high profile players such as Frank Lampard, Vincent Kompany, Glen Johnson and now Mr. Figueroa.

There's no consistency in refereeing and until we begin using a technology based reviews system there will remain no consistency. Human error / interpretation will always erode the level playing field.

Fans, players and managers are frustrated by the same controversies week after week, with their teams being cost points by dodgy decisions. The rules are there for a reason and Figueroa should now be suspended for three matches but he won't be, whereas Milijas and Kompany were. Why?

Waving imaginary cards doesn't have anywhere near the impact that mobs of players surrounding the referee or the deafening appeals of deluded fans at a home ground does. Unfortunately, there are always ways of affecting the referee's decision – officials just need to be stronger. For that to happen, the rules need to be reinforced. Rather than Mancini waving an imaginary red card, he should have been signalling for a video replay.

The time it took for the referee to diminish the saga of appealing players was enough for the 4th official to watch it again and inform Atkinson that it was worthy of a sending off. The same goes with the old chestnut of dangerous play – every tackle looks dangerous when it's at 100 mph. When players go in for challenges they have a decision to make in their minds and actually they're damn good at it – we really don't see that many broken legs considering the pace of play.

With that said, we do see some wild lunges and it's not easy to stamp them out. But issuing a red card for every challenge deemed to use excessive force is not the answer. Sometimes you have to commit whole-heartedly to a challenge or you risk injuring yourself as well.

A quick replay is all it takes – and I will repeat – by the time viewers at home have seen the incident 3 times over, the game has only just recommenced. The bad feeling caused by the riotous scenes you get after a hard tackle could be avoided with a reflective appeals system.

We either have human reactions to human error or let technology ice the fire. But don't cry about imaginary red cards and apoplectic post-match interviews when refs are making the rules up as they go along in the heat of the moment.
Joe McNamara

Total articles: 12

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