Writer: Vital Arsenal member Ozi Gooner
Date:Monday October 1 2007
In recent weeks there has been some appalling 'challenges` in English football and if the FA don`t do something about it soon somebodies career is going to be cut short. I`m not just talking about Arsenal players either, this is not simply the whining of an Arsenal fan who feels his team get more than their fair share of the 'physical`, 'committed`, 'English grit` side of the game from the lesser skilled teams and players of the premier league but it is out of genuine concern for all players in the country, even John Terry - yes, I actually said that and as I typed it I threw up a little bit.
In our game against Blackburn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, a skilful footballer who has been schooled in the dark arts of football by his thug of a manager (whose team most definitely don`t play Barcelona football - maybe Marquez or Puyol football) stamped on the back of Cesc`s head and went unpunished, which is bad enough on its own but when one notes that this has actually happened twice this season, also against Derby by one of their nobody midfielders it is frightening that nothing has been done to curb such behaviour.
Noble`s tackle against Hleb during Saturday`s game was yet another example of horribly mis-placed enthusiasm and horribly mis-guided analysis from commentators who seem to find nothing wrong with such challenges. This challenge reminded me very much of a certain Dan Smith`s aimless lunge at a 20 year old Abou Diaby 18 months ago and Paulo Fereira`s on Denilson at the back end of last season, all three challenges could quite easily have ended the players careers. That is not to say that we have not given back what we get this season, in this weekend`s game alone RVP and Flamini both could have been accused of the same 'over commitment` albeit to a less dangerous degree, but in our case in particular this type of tackling has actually been condoned and applauded as the answer to the problem, which although as an Arsenal fan I don`t mind seeing as it keeps us competitive and counteracts the oppositions plain obvious rough tactics, should not be the case if we care about footballers well being.
This is becoming a serious problem in English football. I read an article the other day that highlighted the fact that the rule about tackling is, as stated in the rule books, 'no studs up tackles` or 'scissor tackles` but that commentators constantly highlighting the idea that it is no two footed tackles influences the referee`s to the extent that this has actually become the law. When you have people like Alan Hansen influencing refereeing decisions with his constant shite from the commentary box, English football is in serious trouble.
Another serious issue is the fact that big forwards and defenders, most notably Clint Dempsey of Fulham, constantly get away with elbowing the opposition in the head as he did this weekend breaking Terry`s jaw. It is hard to feel sympathy for Terry of all footballers but in this situation when a player is supposed to be protected but never seems to be I do feel slightly sorry for him, even being the utter c*** that he is.
Chelsea were also on the wrong end of the referees decisions at Old Trafford last weekend where Obi Mikel was sent off for what could have been a worse tackle than it was had the young Nigerian not had the good sense to ground his feet and take most of the force out of his challenge before making contact with Paul Scholes. This was on its way to being a red card able offence but instead of being rewarded with just a yellow for avoiding contact that could have broken Scholes`s leg he was sent off for ever having raised his studs. In the same game Wayne Rooney was let off the hook for elbowing a Chelsea player in the face, clearly.
Another issue the FA and referee`s have to deal with, which is also an issue that has its origins in television coverage rather than common sense is that of the equal punishment of kicking a ball away, dissent, time wasting or goal celebrations to simulation and horrible tackling. This is not to say that I don`t see the problem with the time wasting that has become almost epidemic in world football and the over-aggressive dissent we see so frequently from Chelsea and Wayne Rooney in particular but to honestly try and compare these problems to blatant diving and tackles with the intention of hurting a player is just plain stupidity. The most idiotic rule of all must be that of the punishment of a player removing ones shirt being punishable by yellow card. This idiotic rule started after the 2003 Women`s World Cup when Germany`s star striker scored the winning goal against the USA in the final and removed her shirt, clearly to the absoloute horror of Sepp Blatter and the rest of the muppets at FIFA. Whether or not you see women removing their shirts during a game of sports as acceptable - especially when the outfits of cheerleaders are much skimpier than the sports bras female athletes wear - is beside the point as the only reason men are not allowed to remove their shirts after scoring any more is that it would be sexist to let men do it and not women, that is taking ridiculous political correctness into a place it just does not belong.
Perhaps the biggest hypocrisy of the whole issue is how often we have to listen to the glorification of useless thugs like Robbie Savage after they commit serious assault on a foreigner but are subjected to endless vilification of any foreigner with the nerve to tackle Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, etc. in any month before an international break.
The rules need to be addressed. The attitudes need to change. The FA and referee`s association need to get their act together and 'pundits` and journalists need to take responsibility for their idiotic and potentially inflammatory comments about the physical aspect of the English game. Something needs to be done. Fast, before someone is seriously injured and careers are ended. Rant over.
Date:Monday October 1 2007
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