Fouls By Defenders On Corners And Free Kicks Have Gone Too Far: Premier League Referee Decisions, Gameweek 18

Boxing Day saw all 20 Premier League teams play, producing some very interesting results and a number of goalkeeping howlers. As ever, the referees were kept very busy with red cards, penalties and goal line decisions.

Fouls inside the box from set pieces are increasingly becoming more and more frequent. Jumping on players’ shoulders, pulling shirts and holding players happen all the time, by every team. When I referee myself, it’s very difficult to spot one incident where 22 players are inside the box. However, something needs to be done. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel is a major culprit. It is hard for the officials, but incidents in the box need to stop. I am not saying there should be no contact in the box, but blatant obstructions need to be cut out and referees should be on high alert and start giving penalties and free kicks to start reducing the amount of antics that go on.

Starting at St James’ Park where Newcastle provided a knockout punch, defeating 9 man Stoke City 5-1, the Magpies were 1-0 down until just before half time. Stoke’s first red card was for Irish midfielder Glenn Whelan for two bookable offenses. The first yellow was awarded for a tackle from behind on Moussa Sissoko. Referee Martin Atkinson correctly showed the yellow card. Only a few minutes later, Whelan fouled another Newcastle player and he knew instantly that he was in trouble. Atkinson showed the second yellow card, which infuriated Stoke boss Mark Hughes who was sent to the stands for protesting with fourth official Andre Marriner. Stoke were 1-0 up at the time, so you have to question Whelan for making two rash tackles in the space of 10 minutes. He gave Atkinson no choice.

Just before half time, Marc Wilson conceded a penalty and was shown a red card for bringing down Loic Remy, when the Frenchman was through on goal. Again, Atkinson judged it spot on. Remy was one on one, despite there being another defender inside the box. Wilson had no case to argue, but this isn’t the first incident where Wilson has brought down a player denying a goal scoring opportunity. Only last Saturday, he brought Aston Villa’s Andreas Weimann down and was fortunate not to be sent off. Newcastle missed the penalty, but ran out 5-1 winners. Stoke only have themselves to blame in my view, however, manager, Mark Hughes didn’t think that was the case. In an interview with BBC’s Match of the Day, he was asked about the red card decisions. Hughes was quoted as saying “It went wrong when the referee got involved. The initial sending off was very, very harsh — ridiculous in fact. Myself and everybody expects a better standard of refereeing.”

Hughes has been known to complain about decisions regularly, but the blame must go to his players for having to play with 9 men for 45 minutes.

Sunderland travelled to Everton where the bottom side were in desperate need for 3 points to keep in touch with the strugglers in the bottom half of the league. Half way through the first half, Everton shot stopper Tim Howard misplaced a goal kick and it went straight to South Korean Ki Sung-Yeung, who went straight for goal before being brought down by Howard. Lee Probert correctly awarded a penalty and a red card. Howard attempted to get the ball but cannot complain with the decision as I believe that Ki would have scored if there was no foul, as there was an open goal.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was angry at the offside decision where Raheem Sterling was through on goal. It was obviously the wrong decision at a key point of the game, with the score 0-0, but Rodgers was unhappy with numerous decisions during the game and questioned the referee’s integrity. Speaking to Match of the Day, he said “I was surprised that we are playing in Manchester and we had a referee from Greater Manchester.” I don’t agree that a Lancashire ref should be in charge of Manchester City games, but any manager questioning the referee’s integrity is very hard to prove.

West Bromwich Albion’s Steven Reid was very lucky not to sent off for a dangerous tackle on Danny Rose. Reid was already on a yellow card, but referee Anthony Taylor should have shown Reid a straight red as the tackle was out of control and with excessive force.  

Editor’s note: Browse through the previous weeks of key Premier League refereeing decisions.

5 thoughts on “Fouls By Defenders On Corners And Free Kicks Have Gone Too Far: Premier League Referee Decisions, Gameweek 18”

  1. I absolutely agree about the fouls in the box. It seems that every single corner taken in Liverpool matches features Martin Skrtel doing nothing but looking at his man while grabbing onto his shirt with two hands. He’s not the only one to do this either.
    The only way to cut this out is for the referees to tell the teams that they will be giving penalties for fouls like this and then to start enforcing the laws of the game.

    1. I agree that Skrtel needs to start playing the ball instead of the man, but let’s not kid ourselves. Is shirt pulling worse than Kompany continually jamming an elbow into Skrtel’s throat? If the league is serious about protecting more than their precious “integrity” (such as it is), they’ll direct officials to start calling ALL of those types of plays.

      Also, I’m assuming that you’d agree that if you had your druthers you think that Suarez should have been awarded a penalty for a blatant pulling of his shirt (the one he supposedly “dived” for), correct?

      1. The Suarez one was a penalty, whether he theatrically fell over or not. Shirt pulling obstructs the opponent and i think the linesman should have seen it.

  2. As a relative soccer newcomer, the solution to this is blindingly obvious. The referees clearly think that awarding a penalty kick is too great of a reward for the infraction.

    The problem is that the referees don’t have any other tools. I wish soccer would come up with some innovative solutions that would encourage referees to actually call fouls in the box. Try something innovative…. Like let it be a direct free kick from the shooter’s choice outside the box and maybe let the goalkeeper have 2 defenders that they can place on the posts or in a wall or whatever. Or do old fashioned MLS-shootout style penalties where the keeper can come off his line. Then fiddle with that formula until you reach an equilbrium where refs actually call fouls instead of ignoring the foul because the penalty is too great of a reward.

    I think you could fix the problem and also add some excitement to the game.

    1. I personally think that all PL referees have the view that everybody does it, so that makes it ok not to award penalties. The only way to cut it out is to award penalties.

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