Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Ultimate Penalty

I have a proposition for the FA. Increasingly there have been cries for referees to show a greater leniency when met with challenging decisions concerning foul play. Yes, if a player is considered to be a danger on the field and has put in a reckless challenge, then he should be punished. However, we all want a contest fought out between two sides consisting of eleven players and for skill to be the overriding factor on the day; rather than a card-happy ref handing over the initiative to one side by reducing the other to ten men.

After watching ten man Tottenham battle so bravely at Stoke this weekend, the red card shown to Gareth Bale got me thinking. After bundling his way into Spurs' area, Tom Soares was unceremoniously brought down when put clear through on goal. Granted it was a goal-scoring opportunity, and Bale certainly denied Soares the chance to put his side ahead. However, there are never any guarantees in football and Soares may well have put the ball into row z. Therefore perhaps the red card was rather harsh.

My main argument is thus: surely the penalty being awarded is punishment enough. Eye for an eye etc, etc. If Bale has denied Soares the chance of a goal, then perhaps a penalty is adequate punishment for the foul committed. My thoughts continued to roam, and my train of thought stumbled upon the rather interesting notion of a sin-bin style punishment. The player who has committed the foul, in this case Bale, temporarily waits on the sideline for the penalty to be taken. There are now two scenarios. If the penalty is scored, Bale returns to the pitch, with a goal conceeded sufficient punishment. The goalscoring opportunity that had been denied has been rectified and normal play can resume. Conversely, if the penalty is missed, then Bale would have to sit out the remainder of the game and there is sufficient punishment with the side now a man short.

Therefore the foul is punished, in my opinion, in a more pragmatic way. Rather than reducing a side to ten men and putting the accused a goal down, which has proved to kill games off in the past, there is a more reasonable solution. Upon reading this, there may well be those thinking shut up, why change rules for the sake of it? Fair point. But I, like many, want to see the beautiful game played out eleven versus eleven, with skill and finesse the ultimate judge on the result.


Strider said...

It’s the thought that counts...and as it is I share your disagreement with the rule to impose penalty by player dismissal and penalty by goal scoring opportunity which so often ruins the spectacle of 11 vs. 11...but there would be too many complications with a rule based on whether the spot kick was converted. Such as, what if the goal was scored in the re-bound or during the same phase of play. Or the player who fouled as last man was way outside the box. I know these are niggling complaints but perhaps a closer adhering to the rules of the rugby union sin-binning just as the following of the referee respect campaign would be beneficial. Therefore, if a player caused such a foul, the guilty player should be "sin-binned" for the following 10 minutes or a varying time depending on the severity. We all know how this man advantage, if exploited efficiently could prove the difference between two teams. Equally when the player would re-enter the fray, he would be able to go about repairing the damage and repaying his team mates for his error. It would allow a player to still contribute after a momentary lapse in concentration, thus the beautiful game that you and I know and love would not be ended as a spectacle prematurely.

Groundsy said...

Well said squire. It's good that we are (loosely) singing from the same hymn sheet!