Fouls, cynical or otherwise, are a part of the game. It’s not as if cynicism is going to be wiped out by this rule, and if cynical play is such a condemning feature of our game, why not automatically red card players for cynical simulation? If the defender is subject to a red-card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, why not red card the attacker for simulating it? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Of course, I’m being sarcastic only to point out that it would be ridiculously futile. Before long, games would degenerate into a caricature, and we’d be lucky to end with 9 vs. 9, let alone a full complement of players that we paid much money, and traveled many miles to see.
An even better argument against automatic red cards for denying obvious goal scoring opportunity is propounded by players and coaches of opposing teams who, despite disparate outcomes in a recent Champions League encounter, join in unison to criticize the game-changing, nay, game-ruining, rule.
In questioning why a player who commits a foul that denies obvious goal scoring opportunity should automatically be red-carded, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suggested a penalty in itself is a good goal scoring opportunity. Wenger said: “Common sense says you should divide what is inside and outside the box, because denying a goal scoring opportunity inside the box is restored by the fact you get a penalty. A yellow card would have been enough, because it was not violent conduct by Wojciech [Arsenal’s goalie].” Ah, very well put — no wonder Wenger has a scholarly aura about him.
In a milieu where opposing managers and players are quick to needle and taunt, but rarely agree on the time of day, this was the exception. Even Bayern Munich’s goalkeeper was sympathetic. Here’s what Neuer said:
“One should reconsider the rule … from a keeper’s point of view you have to be critical of the red card … the team is already punished by the penalty call.”
Blimey, this agreement by football foes is so rare in soccer. But it gets better, even Bayern Munich’s former president Uli Hoeness maintains the rule is excessive, saying it “needs to be changed,” admittedly adding, “as long as the rule stands it has to be implemented with all consequences.”
FIFA and UEFA are often in discord, but even they agree that the rule should be changed; indeed, UEFA was instrumental in getting the issue on IFAB’s agenda, proposing that the law be modified to limit red cards to offenses outside the area.