Hands up for a change of perception

Picture from Daily Mail
Sometimes in Football, the referee just can’t win. With QPR 1-0 up at home and 33 minutes gone, Djibril Cisse reacted angrily to a tackle from Roger Johnson, raising his hand to the neck of the Wolves centre-back.


Mark Clattenburg, the unfortunate man in the middle here, had no choice – in reality – but to send the striker off. Calls for common sense to prevail are all well and good but far too simplistic. If the act was construed as violent conduct (and referees are told to see the raising of the hand as such) then Cisse has to go. The referee acted to the letter of the law.
Over the last five to ten years pundits, players and referees have all stated that if a player is naive enough to raise his hands should be sent off.
Like two-footed tackles at the moment, there was no doubt a time when players were repeatedly putting hands on opponent’s faces, so The FA sought to stamp it out. Raising hands has, for a long time now, come under violent conduct, a law that is open to interpretation but one which The FA advise on. Their advice simply seems to be: they raise their hands, they go.
There are problems here, though. A rule that is so rigid is going to prove unworkable and unfair in different situations. How can a commonly-held rule stating a reckless challenge from behind results in a yellow card while a slight grapple in reaction is worthy of a red be right? How can Cisse’s actions be seen as violent yet Johnson’s can’t? It’s hardly a punishment that fits the crime.
Of course, Cisse was quite petulant in reacting; the sending off was certainly avoidable as Cisse had almost two seconds (a relatively long time, if we’re talking about the heat of the moment) to just think and then walk away. No raised hand, no red card, no problem.
But his actions were not difficult to understand. It is hardly surprising that Cisse reacted the way he did given the Frenchman’s torrid injury record. He broke his tibia and fibula in 2004 and broke his leg in 2006. He has missed large chunks of his career (arguably the parts where he would have been at his peak) because of these injuries, so when the lumbering shell of Roger Johnson comes crashing through the back of him, he’s allowed to be a little bit annoyed.
And now, because Clattenburg saw the Johnson foul, there will be no retrospective punishment. This is a bizarre rule which states putting the decision right and bringing a little bit of justice to the world of football undermines the referee. Johnson will be free to play in the next three games, whereas Cisse won’t be able to unless the suspension is overruled – which surely ‘undermines’ the referee anyway? Johnson’s got away with it, while Cisse will not be available for games against Blackburn, Fulham and Everton.
Cisse’s reaction was unnecessary, unprofessional and ever-so-slightly petulant, but it was understandable and it does not merit a more severe punishment than a lunge from behind. The common perception that a raised hand must result in a red card has to change.

Rooney escapes FA ban for elbow

Wayne Rooney will not be punished by The Football Association despite television replays clearly showing that the England international caught Wigan midfielder with his elbow on Saturday.
As Rooney ran past McCarthy the striker seemed to deliberately hit the Wigan man in the face, leading to referee Mark Clattenburg giving a free kick. He did not, though, give a red, or even yellow, card.
Because Clattenburg ‘dealt’ with the incident during the match, English football’s governing body cannot act as they believe it will undermine the officials, as The Press Association explains:
“The disciplinary process is complex in the sense that the FA are not allowed by FIFA to take further action on incidents already dealt with by the referee.
In addition, world football’s governing body frowns upon the idea that referees could go into a game believing they have a ‘get-out’ of trial by video, as is the case in both codes of rugby, where Rooney would almost certainly have been cited given the severity of the incident.”
The FA have decided that retrospective punishment will not be taken as Clattenburg has told them that he feels he administrated appropriate action at the time, basically leading  The FA powerless.
Professional Game Match Officials general manager Mike Riley said: “Match officials are trained to prioritise following the ball, as that’s where the greater majority of incidents are going to take place. However, we also do a lot of work around the area of peripheral vision to be aware of anything that might potentially happen off the ball.”
He added: “In this incident Mark was following play but caught sight of two players coming together and he awarded a free-kick because he believed one player had impeded the other.
“We should be clear that Mark did nothing wrong in officiating this incident as he acted on what he saw on the pitch.”
While this decision does show consistency (if The FA were to punish Rooney and therefore use him as an example, there would be similar outrage to that of now because they did not persecute Ben Thatcher or Steven Gerrard, who have been involved in similar incidents in the last few years) there is a clear indication that the rule regarding retrospective punishment needs to change.
With the advances in technology that the game has experienced, or, rather, ignored, over the years, surely some sort of implementation of video evidence should be at least taken into consideration?
Rooney is now free to face Chelsea tomorrow night as United go into a vital period of their season, with Liverpool and possibly Arsenal coming up in the next few weeks, as well as Marseille in the Champions League. Sir Alex Ferguson should count himself lucky that one of his most influential players, at his best, is still available for selection.

This article originally appeared on sports website Sports Haze but is now unavailable due to the site closing down.