In the Arsenal against Manchester City match, what a way to spoil a perfectly good game of soccer, huh? Referee Mike Dean didn’t have a whole lot of choice when Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny wrapped his arms around Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko and dragged him to the ground inside the 6-yard box. Law 12 makes it pretty clear what needs to happen there: Penalty kick + red card.
Of course, the “problem” is that this happened in the 9th minute of play meaning that Arsenal had to play virtually the entire game with only ten men. Nothing is guaranteed in soccer, but against a very good club like Manchester City, the result felt pretty inevitable. I’m actually surprised that City only won 2-0.
Even though I have no problem with Mike Dean’s following of the rules, it does make me wonder about the rules themselves. A big part of the attraction of soccer is that we have these binary outcomes. It really doesn’t matter if a side is dominant, passes well and creates a ton of opportunities because if they don’t score they can still lose to a team that puts their sole opportunity of the game into the back of the net. That’s why clinging to a one goal lead can be so nerve-wracking. I love that part of the game.
But, I hate the way red-cards and penalty kicks dramatically influence outcomes, so let’s think about these rules. I’m not advocating any of these be adopted asap, but consider them food for thought. I’m a newer soccer fan; many times newbies spout nothing but drivel, but sometimes we might have a moment of insight because we’re less invested in the status quo.
- Why do all red-cards have to be for the remainder of the game? – The big objection to the Kosceilny red-card is that Arsenal had to play 80 minutes with only 10 men. Sometimes referees ignore fouls early in a game for that reason or give a yellow when the foul was pretty bad. Koscielny’s foul wasn’t dangerous or reckless (those should stay as-is). What if Koscielny was just sent off for a period of time? How about 45 minutes? Think of the fun of watching the manager decide whether to make a substitution or not! Think of the shot of adrenalin Arsenal would have gotten if Koscielny reentered in the 55th minute. Would Vincent Kompany have been sent off to “even things up” if Koscielny could’ve reentered?
- Why do all penalties have to be from the same spot? – Koscielny’s foul clearly merited a traditional penalty: He got mauled to the ground in the 6-yard box. But, why does a questionable handball at the edge of the 18-yard box merit the same penalty kick? What if the referee could award a penalty kick from further out for lesser infractions? Or put the penalty kick off to one side or the other and make the penalty taker bend it into the net? Heck….who wouldn’t enjoy the drama of the keeper selecting the side for an angled PK knowing it would influence who takes the kick?
Wouldn’t this make the game more fun? Anything that lessens the vicious bickering about referee calls would be good for me.