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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Kelis hates you so much right now

Morten Gamst Pedersen! Or she would if she had seen you play football yesterday. A lot of sports fans dislike football because, unlike in other sports, the players earn a fortune and the game is dominated by people arguing with the referee or trying to get him to give a foul when they don't deserve it.

Diving is cheating, and referees have the power to book players who dive. It is rarely done, however. Most referees do not do it at all, and those that do give the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Take a look at this dive yesterday - the most obvious and cynical dive I have ever seen (apart from a few by Cristiano Ronaldo perhaps)

It's clear that he didn't get touched and it also didn't look like a man who had fallen over accidentally either. When he got up, he was shouting at the referee to give a penalty. No penalty was given, but neither was Pedersen punished. That gives the signal that it is okay to do. He lost nothing by trying to get a penalty that way. He'll do it again, because although it didn't work this time, it might do next time. Morten Pedersen should be sent off and suspended, because it gives football a bad name and makes refereeing harder to do. When a defender prevents a near-certain goal with a foul, it is an automatic red card. When a striker wins a penalty by diving, that is the same thing. It can change the scoreline by foul play and he should be sent off.

I don't care whether the referee has seen it at the time or not, but the FA should go back to these incidents and suspend people who dive. I always say that a red card should be given to someone who is such a bad player that they are not fit to stand on the field of play. Perhaps they are doing such dangerous tackles that the referee is concerned someone will get hurt, or perhaps they should such contempt for the rules that they need to be told "if you're not going to play properly, then you're not allowed to play at all".

On the other hand, if someone mistimes a tackle, it's a free kick, but it was only a mistake, so the player should be allowed to continue playing. The player is hardly unfit to play, he just make a mistake. Yet week after week, innocuous tackles are punished by cards, but unsporting behaviour is allowed to continue.

While we are on the subject, appealing to referees should be a bookable offence. Even if the player was fouled, making it look worse than it really was, or appealing to the referee muddies the waters. This behaviour is turning enough people away from football so it needs to be more actively addressed. Any foul should be punished by a free kick, but any unsporting behaviour at all should result in a player being punished by suspension or a warning that they will be suspended if it continues.

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