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Huddlestone Escaping FA Ban Shows Why Refs Need TV Replay

Anyone who watched last Saturday’s match between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur on television would have seen Tom Huddlestone’s deliberate stamp on Johan Elmander. The numerous TV replays of the incident saw Huddlestone take out his frustration by stamping his foot down on the calf of Elmander (fast forward to minute 8:37 to see the incident).

After the incident happened, referee Chris Foy blew his whistle and walked over to the players but decided against issuing Huddlestone a yellow card. You’ll notice in the above video that Foy is at the top of the center circle when the foul happens.

ESPN commentator Ian Darke was incensed by the foul and predicted that Huddlestone would receive a ban from The FA after they had a chance to review the TV replay of the incident.

However when The FA contacted Foy to ask about the foul, Foy said that he saw the stamp and did not deem it worthy of a yellow or red card. Case closed.

Huddlestone is extremely lucky to avoid punishment for the awful foul. But in fairness to Foy, he was not aided by TV replays so he can only report what he saw with his own eyes. And standing in the position that he was in, it’s quite possible that the incident looked harmless from he was, and he may have felt that Huddlestone was just trying to avoid Elmander and unfortunately made contact.

For those of us who watched it again and again on replay, we saw what really happened. And I’m convinced that if referees such as Foy had an opportunity to watch a brief replay of the incident on a TV screen that he would have awarded a red card to Huddlestone. TV replay technology has been discussed ad infinitum in terms of bringing it into the game and allowing teams to request a replay if they believe a referee missed an incident, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon as long as Sepp Blatter is in charge of FIFA.

Huddlestone got off from receiving a ban from The FA because of a technicality. If Foy had told The FA that he didn’t see the clash between Huddlestone and Elmander, then The FA would have been able to review the TV replays and would have presumably banned the Tottenham midfielder.

It’s not a matter of who is wrong or right in this situation. Foy saw what he saw. How many times have you seen an incident on television in real-time and thought it was a definite penalty, only to watch a replay a few seconds later to find out that a player dived and that you had made an incorrect call?

The FA has its rules and that’s where things need to change. If there is overwhelming evidence that contradicts a decision made by a referee, then The FA should be able to step in and inform the referee that he made an error and that The FA will serve punishment for the act that was committed. It would undermine the authority that a referee has, but it would ultimately ensure that fewer incorrect decisions are made in matches. That’s fair, right?

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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29 Responses to Huddlestone Escaping FA Ban Shows Why Refs Need TV Replay

  1. Ryne says:

    As a Tottenham fan, I can say that Huddlestone has escaped punishment for two fouls this season that really should have cost him some playing time.

  2. Matt says:

    This blog but be written by a Gooner or someone equally biased..

    “Huddlestone take out his frustration by stamping his foot down on the calf of Elmander”.

    Hud is a huge man… If he stamped down on Elmander, he would not have been getting up again. Let alone, but up & playing withing a minute or so..

    The challenge on him was late & lunging.. He tried to jump & the player slid under where he was jumping.. Hud is hardly known for his quick reactions or agility, so would have been unable to do anything about it.. Nothing nasty in it at all… Robinson for Bolton is another matter tho, nastey, obnoxious & an out right thug.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Matt, give me a break. That’s ridiculous. Take off the rose-tinted glasses!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Matt says:

        I think the whole of the media wish Hudd was a thug..

        Watch the video… nothing nasty in it at all.. He’s left standing there saying, what could i have done?

        Jump higher? If it went wrong, he would have came down from higher on him…

        I swear some people who talk about football online have never played the game… Nothing intentional in that challenge, if Hudd was looking to hurt him, he would have ended up hurt, not back on his feet & playing again the next min..

      • fader says:

        No, this is serious. Because this stamp is so mild when compared to the multitude of sly, aggressive and potentially dangerous stamps we see so often, that to have someone dragged over the coals for it is almost a bit disturbing – though not surprising.

        And that’s if it even was a ‘stamp’. Huddlestone was rightly ‘let off’ because it just isn’t clear whether it was intentional. A lot of articles are using a very misleading image but the more you watch it the more it just seems weird, as if he were trying to avoid an imaginary obstacle.

        But on the other hand we shouldn’t rule out that Huddlestone, after some rather obvious indiscretions, has become a criminal genius, able to conceal his wicked twisted soul, so’s as he may lightly tread on people (for no reason and no gain) with impunity.

        • Simon Burke says:

          I personally thought at the time that it “might” be an accident, it wasnt a stamp as much as a stepping on. Then a day later i heard it was his second this year which he has enacted and thought that’s probably not an accident then. Premier league should have banned him.

  3. cam5131 says:

    The bigger foul was Tottenham’s overall performance on Saturday. Abhorrent that a team who can beat the European champions concedes 4 goals to Bolton Wanderers.

  4. Matt says:

    Yes – Awful performance..

  5. Sir Guy says:

    “It would undermine the authority that a referee has….”

    A minor quibble, but I really don’t think that is the case at all. Look at NFL and NCAA football and rugby. They have completely embraced the use of video technology both during and after a game. There is absolutely nothing to show that refs have lost any authority whatsoever.

    I think the reason for this is in the acceptance by all parties of the fact that the refs can’t possibly see everything. Therefore, the use of video is seen as an assistance not a corrective. That is a huge difference in implication and implementation and one that takes nothing away from the refs.

    Soccer could take a lesson, but won’t.

    • Patrico says:

      Agree w/ Sir Guy.

      And I think TV replays should be part of every decision to ban players for future matches. I watched this in real time, and it looked like Huddlestone had no choice but to land his foot on Elmander. In slow motion, you could tell Huddlestone intentionally moved his leg to stamp him.

    • Dave C says:

      Sir Guy,
      I think the EPL’s current stance on video-reviews of incidents already acknowledges that the referee cannot be expected to see everything. If the referee had not seen the “stamp”, then maybe the video panel could have given Huddlestone a ban.

      However, the referee says he DID see the stamp, and deemed it unworthy of a card (or even a free kick). That’s why the video-review panel doesn’t come into effect. If the video-review panel were to start making retrospective decisions on incidents that the referee DID see, then they WOULD be undermiming the referee’s authority.

  6. Ringo says:

    I thought the elbow he threw earlier in the season was deserved to the player dragging him to ground by his shirt. You want to pull a player down by his shirt, don’t be surprised if an elbow swings up in your face on the way down.

    This, however, was out of line. Elmander mistimed his challenge by a bit and Tom had more than enough time and room to avoid him. It’s pretty obvious from the replay that in midair, he decides to leave one foot where it is and come down right on Elmander. Tom needs to cut this type of crap out of his game if he’s going to progress to the next level.

  7. Feehily says:

    The FA protect their referees far to much. Okay it may “undermine” his authority but when something is this open and shut simply asking the Ref “You know that thing that happened that you didn’t have a clear view of and therefore couldn’t really make a call on it? Well video replays suggest that punishment should be taken. We’re not going to show you the video, just ask you again what you think happened… Good enough for us, less paperwork an all that! To the Pub!”
    But actually in this circumstance the Referee says he saw the stamp and didn’t think it deserve any further action. No my friend if you “saw” the “stamp” he would have been sent off. TV replays showed Huddlestones leg adjust so he caught Elemander, much like Adebayor on Van Persie last season.
    And that Matt fella showing typical Tottenham delusion, your boy should have seen red on the day and/or had further action taken. But the FA don’t want to upset Waxy Redknapp cos the want him to be England manager!

    • Dave C says:

      Or maybe the referee DID see it and just doesn’t think it was a genuine “stamp.”

      FWIW, I’m not a Spurs supporter, but I don’t think this incident is as clear cut as all the anti-Huddlestone brigade are suggesting. There didn’t seem to be any downward thrust by Huddlestone, and to me (even with the replays), it’s not clear that he isn’t simply trying to avoid landing on Elmander.

  8. Matt says:

    Hudd was lucky indeed…
    but what is ludicrous is people assuming that in the split second he had to think about what to do, his line of thought was “I know, the best thing to do here is to stamp on the guy sliding toward me!”
    You see, sounds crazy doesnt it…

    • Clampdown says:

      Sliding toward him? Huddlestone threw his foot out away from where it would have naturally landed to purposely stamp on Elmander. It’s as clear as day.

      It’s OK to admit when your own player has done something wrong.

      And, no, I’m not a gooner.

      • Matt says:

        Could have fooled me…

        I have already said he was lucky to get away with it.. Often he would have gone for that if the ref had seen it or not, with all the woo haa the Bolton players made of it (hypocrites anyone?)..

        There is doing something wrong & there is intentionally going out to cause harm to your fellow professionals, which are very different things & is what many people, incorrectly, seem to be implying…

        • Mike says:

          Elmander lovs to dish it out but he winges when anyone goes near him. Maybe he should take a closer look at how is strike partner goes about his business. Davies is a great old fashioned centre forward loves to dish it out but doesn’t moan when he gets a bit back !!

  9. proper eyesight says:

    As the referee stated that he saw it from close range and didn’t deem it a foul let alone deliberate obviously the writer of the article has superior knowledge. Maybe the self adoring posting name of the Gaffer gives a bit of a clue. I love these armchair experts but ponder upon their modesty. Surely with all the knowledge and the attributes of the Gaffer isn’t it doing the game a diservice by merely sharing his great wisdom with us. Get off your PC and give football an active benefit of your knowledge. Bloody charlatan massaging hisr own deluded egos.

  10. Mike says:

    Only Huddlestone will know if he meant it and no matter how long you discuss it, it is only your opinion. Let the referee do his job instead of blaming them for everything. If Foy says he saw the incident and decided not to take action then that is good enough for me. Better to hear him come out and say that than make ridiculous decisions and never offer an explanation.

  11. Why? says:

    It looks like he meant it IMO. In all fairness though it seems that he thought Elmander was coming in hard, but he pulled back before the tackle as the ball had gone. It also looks like Huddlestone changed his mind just as he was about to make contact as he clearly moves his foot towards Elmander in a stamping motion but really only ends up putting his foot on him with not a huge amount of force (not enough for Elmander’s reaction anyway). I have seen Huddlestone do worse. He seems to be the Spud’s ‘bad boy’ but as there was some intent he could have been sent off then again the Ref said he had a clear view and said he had seen nothing wrong then that’s that either way the F.A will not bring it back.

  12. tony says:

    Graham Poll said that you should consider that if the player on the ground was a team mate would he have avoided him, if the answer is yes then it’s a foul.

    • Why? says:

      Tony it’s probably best not to pay much attention to Graham ‘two yellows’ Poll as he is only ever after putting himself in the lime light as he is desperate as a desperate thing for fame.

  13. Not seeing a Stamp says:

    I don’t see a stamp to the calf, but I do see a kick to the stomach. The view from behind shows it the best as he start to come down he kicks out with his foot to towards the defender that is to the side of him by that point. It’s a really awkward motion that isn’t done to avoid anything. Basically looks like he was trying to move his foot so it makes contact with the defender. Or he’s extremely uncoordinated when in the air.

  14. Geoff says:

    Wow!
    I was in the east stand lower tier, and it was obvious from where I was sitting that Tom Thuggleston deliberately stamped on Elmander.
    Foy is a copper with Merseyside Police. Fills you with confidence about him doesn’t it? Ridiculous decision.

  15. IanCransonsKnees says:

    God help Kevin Davies on here if he’d done the same he’d have been crucified.

  16. V says:

    I think we are missing the point. Since play was stopped anyway, the referee could have been given the benefit of a tv replay and then made whatever decision he saw fit. That would have in no way undermined the authority of the referee. In tennis and cricket, both the teams or individuals are given three chances to ask for a tv replay and in cricket close calls for run-outs are generally referred to the tv umpire. These may not be implemented as it is in football, but at-least FA should try to incorporate technology in the game rather than view it as a threat to the authority of the umpire. Granted some decisions will still be controversial but the least you can do is provide all possible help to the referee in making the decisions. The game should be played and governed keeping in mind the spirit and not the letter of the law in mind.

    P.S. – Liverpool fan here. YNWA.

    • Dave C says:

      Yeah you’re right – all my posts above are based on the assumption that we’re talking about video-review AFTER the game (which is what the commentators at the time were talking about). You’re right that the Gaffer’s actual post is talking about video-review during the game, which changes things signficantly. Personally I tend to agree with you that some sort of video-review/challenge system DURING a game would generally be a good thing, although it carries some problems in itself.

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