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2 Alternative Viewpoints About Mike Dean’s Red Cards Awarded in Arsenal-Manchester City Game

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.

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  1. Bode

    January 15, 2013 at 1:12 am

    For Me, the last man rule is very unfair, if a player denies a clear scoring oppotunity in the box and he happened to be the last man, he gets red carded and the opponet are awarded a penalty, so the rule gives teams double advantage for one foul. a penalty should be awarded and at most a yellow card.

    • Why?

      January 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Bode you seem to be confused, there is no ‘last man rule’ the rule is it’s a penalty if a player fouls, handles etc in the box. Where as if he denies a clear goal scoring opportunity which is different it’s a penalty and a sending off. In some situations the ref will see if the defender making the challenge was the last man or not this only helps him make up his mind. If not it means it wasn’t a clear opportunity as the other defender, who must be there to make the first defender not the last man could make a tackle.
      The difference is if you foul somebody in the box accidentally or not it’s a penalty but in a 1 on 1 with the keeper it’s more likely the defender cheated but he also stopped that definite chance

  2. Gooning Mad

    January 14, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Ifthat was a sending off, why are there not 20 – 30 sending off’s per week for the grappling at corners?

    Or does this differ, do the rules change for corners?

    also to be a Red card it needs to be a clear goal scoring opportunity. Did Dzeko have the ball under control?

    Also Gibbs was the last man.

    We all know the answer and it ;ays squarely at the feet of Mike Dean. He’s statistics say it all when refereeing Arsenal games.

    • Arboleda

      January 14, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      To be fair Dzeko was at the 6 yard box and was tackled before he had a chance to control the ball. To me a little shirt pulling is part of the game but when you wrap someone up you cross that line to a penalty

  3. PhillySpur

    January 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve always had an issue with the awarding of penalty kicks. Very often the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Also, because the punishment is so harsh, the referee may be reluctant to call a foul. I do think the person that is fouled should be the one to take the penalty shot. I also would not have a problem with changing the distance of the penalty based on the type and location of a foul.

    • Dean Stell

      January 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Yeah…..that’s kinda my point. If the refs had a tool other than a hammer (the PK) they might be more inclined to use it. Like my example of a handball on a cross. I mean, the chances that any particular cross will result in a goal is pretty darn low, so give the aggrieved club a PK from a place where they’d only have a 25% chance to score (farther out, one-man wall, out to the side, whatever….).

      I’d much rather see a more minimal penalty that was actually called than hear all the bitching about handballs that weren’t called.

  4. Mr-Ed

    January 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    DOGSO (Denial of a Goal Scoring Opportunity) is the issue and FIFA are the problem. This is the next level up from a mere penalty. Regardless of the type of offence the player is sent off as the rules currently stand. It isn’t right – it encourages strikers to cheat and in reality it ruins the rest of the game.

    To satisfy the requirements for a harsh penalty for cheating but not one that doesn’t ruin the game the DOGSO offence should result in an automatic goal (awarded to the player fouled) and a yellow card – regardless of the location of the foul.

    • Dean Stell

      January 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Well….I do see your point. I mean, we all probably have someone one our favorite team who has great pace, but mediocre control and he can get behind defenses, but is liable to take a bad touch and miss the opportunity. So, sometimes that DOGSO is bailing out a guy who wasn’t likely to score anyway.

  5. Guy

    January 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Rules are rules, Dean. That’s all there is to it.

    Having said that, I have often wondered why:

    1. they don’t make the person fouled take the pk

    2. they don’t move the pk spot back (say, into the arc space) to make it more of a challenge.

    btw, your “timed penalty” is used in rugby. A yellow gets you 10 minutes in the sin bin.

    • Dean Stell

      January 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Oh….I agree. I’m not saying the rules are stupid or anything like that, but it is fun to think of ways it could better or more fun even if it won’t ever happen.

      I love the idea of making the person fouled take the PK and the more I think about it, I’d love it if the you gave the other team some input in who took the penalty. Like maybe each team has to submit two penalty takers for the game and then the other side picks the one to actually take them. So, for United they’d submit Rooney and RVP and then we’d get to see people get all pissy when Rooney was selected as the penalty taker (and he’d have a massive chip on his shoulder too).

      Thanks for enjoying the post in the spirit it was intended…

  6. Eplnfl

    January 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Interesting idea. The red had to be given no doubt. It was a clear violation. Did it ruin the game? Not sure on that.

    A discussion of a flagrant foul such as in the NBA or an incidental contact penalty from the NFL may help the game.

    Getting FIFA on board for this is next to impossible.

    • Dean Stell

      January 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Oh….I fully agree that getting FIFA to do something about this is possible, nor is it probably their top priority.

      It’s just fun to think about (at least for some of us….)

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