A striker is through on goal and hares into the penalty area with just the keeper to beat. The last covering defender though has a chance to make a last ditch tackle and prevent the striker from getting a shot off; they take a chance and dive in. The tackle is mistimed and instead of making a clean challenge the defender fouls the striker. The referee spots the infringement and has little option but to award a penalty and send off the offender. The punishment doesn’t end there, as the player who committed the foul would also be suspended for the following game.
The triple whammy for penalties may soon become a thing of the past according to a report the Independent. IFAB will be discussing the topic at the behest of former referee Pierluigi Collina.
Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, said that the group would broach the issue next year.
“This will come back in March and there will be a recommendation for change. There are two ends of the spectrum. Either you reduce the automatic suspension or you adopt a more technical solution whereby the 18-yard box is deemed a special area and that denying a goal scoring opportunity becomes a yellow card since a penalty is awarded anyway.”
The fact that the law will be amended is something to be welcomed but which of the two options mentioned by Regan is the better one?
Reducing the automatic suspension makes sense. The punishment, it can be argued, should only hit the offending team in just that game itself.
Treating the 18-yard box as a ‘special area’ is an interesting idea. However the penalty box should only be treated as a ‘special area’ when dealing with fouls where there is only genuine intent at challenging for the ball.
One hopes that IFAB when discussing the will still allow referees to punish cynical fouls or in more extreme cases violent conduct.
The desire to introduce the professional foul into the laws of the football stemmed from an incident in the 1980 FA Cup final between West Ham United and Arsenal. West Ham was one-nil up with three minutes to go when Paul Allen was set clean through on goal with the opportunity to put the Hammers two to the good. Arsenal’s Willie Young had other ideas and cynically took him down. Under the laws at the time the most the referee, George Courtney, could do to punish Young was give him a yellow card.