English football · Laws of the game · Referees

The Laws Of The Game

Continuing from here, on Richard Dunne’s sending off in Manchester City’s 1-8 defeat to Middlesbrough, the BBC reported that “Dunne probably did not mean to catch Tuncay, who had met Chris Riggott’s pass on the edge of the area, but he did foul the Turkish striker and referee Phil Dowd was right to send him off.”

Law 12 of the Laws of the Game provides that:

“A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off and shown the red card if he commits any of the following seven offences:


5. denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick


Law 12 also provides that a free kick or penalty should be awarded if a player “tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball”

Therefore, as we have seen on many occasions, a player can be sent off for an unintentional foul which is neither violent nor dangerous, which changes the whole dynamic of the remainder of the game.

Where the foul occurs in the penalty box, the defending team is punished twice over – having a penalty awarded against it as well as having a player sent off.

There is no proportionality. More disturbingly, for no compelling reason, there is a draconian change to the basic dynamic of the game, a contest between two teams of 11.

If a player commits a foul thereby depriving an opponent of a clear goalscoring opportunity, wouldn’t it make more sense for the laws to provide that the referee should award a penalty, regardless of whether the offence took place within the penalty box? The attacking side is provided with an alternative goalscoring opportunity, but the dynamic of the remainder of the game is not changed unnecessarily.

(Article first posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)


4 thoughts on “The Laws Of The Game

  1. In reply to

    I read before that when before introducing the professional foul rule (in Summer 1982?) the FA had originally wanted the rules changed to allow exactly [a penalty rather than a sending off] that but FIFA refused. Given the controversy that could ensue I doubt FIFA’s attitude has changed in the quarter century since.

    Personally, I find sendings off more controversial than penalties. A penalty is merely a goal opportunity. In a game, goal opportunities are created through a variety of circumstances – a good move, a long ball, a defensive mistake, free kicks around the box, the ball deflecting off the referee even, all part of the cut and thrust of a football game. A sending off changes the basic dynamic of the game for the remainder of the game.

    On the issue of refereeing, I come back to the point I made at point (b) in an earlier post:

    “Match officials [should] intervene only when they have to, and any doubt [should be] exercised in favour of not intervening or making decisions that will affect the outcome of the game, especially in respect of penalties of sendings off.”

    There have been far too many dodgy penalties awarded this season. I should start collating examples of poor refereeing, either from match reports or in video clips.

    According to the BBC’s Sarah Holt in her report on Rochdale’s win over Darlington yesterday:

    “It was Darlington who broke through after a controversial decision by referee Richard Beeby on 28 minutes.

    Howe was judged to have impeded Kennedy in the box, though the contact looked minimal, and Beeby pointed to the spot.”

    Poor refereeing?

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

  2. In reply to

    [On the first day of Euro 2008] … outrageous dives in the final game of the day between Portugal and Turkey. ….

    I would suggest that referees be given the discretion to exclude any player suspected of diving or “simulation” from the pitch for up to 10 minutes. It would give the player some time to reflect on his conduct.

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

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