The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

More refereeing complaints…

I can’t seem to escape this topic at the moment, but today’s friendly between Celtic and the Seattle Sounders was yet another instance of, in my opinion, a referee showing an amazing lack of common sense. In this case, Paul Ward did follow the letter of the law by sending off Sounders goalkeeper Terry Boss for a last-man infraction. But, there is a difference between law and application of law, and this was one time where a little situational analysis would not have gone astray.

In the 29th minute, a nice through-ball split the Seattle defense and Giorgios Samaras was in alone on Boss. Boss came out and dove at Samaras’ feet – and clearly clipped his ankles as Samaras was going around him. It was a nailed-on penalty, and as stated, the letter of the law indicates that the last man who prevents a goal due to foul play is to be issued a straight red card (it’s a stupid fucking rule as I’ve ranted about many times before – a penalty AND a red card is entirely too harsh a punishment for the crime). Here’s the thing, though – Samaras quickly regained his feet enough to sweep the ball into the net. Much like the Catalan Pricks vs. Arsenal Champions League final a few seasons back, one simple advantage call would have resulted in a goal being scored and the conceding team being able to retain their goalkeeper and play 11 v 11. Instead, much like Terje Hauge that awful night, Ward opted for the ridiculously harsh nuclear option of the red card. In a friendly. In the 29th minute.

This was mind-bogglingly stupid on multiple levels. First, as mentioned, Samaras had scored within a second or two of going down. If the numbnuts with the whistle had held on for 1 or 2 seconds, it’s an easy decision to play the advantage – it’s 1-0 Celtic (which the play deserved), and the game goes on. Beyond that though, did I mention this was a friendly? Look – if this were a competitive match of any sort, I would not be posting this right now. Ward absolutely should produce the red card in that case…and I have no sympathy for the keeper there either. When you as a fan pay your money to watch a league or cup game, you do so in the knowledge that a team can lose a man as early as the 1st minute, it could finish 6-0 to the visitors, a referee may make a galling mistake, etc. That comes with the territory. But in an exhibition match such as this, I believe there is an underlying expectation from the fans that they will get 90 minutes of 11 v 11 and the ability to see the players that they have paid to watch. Sure, if someone loses their rag and goes in studs-up or something, then fine…send him off. Violent play should never be tolerated under any circumstances. Here though, we have a game where it’s now 11 v 10 for 2/3rds of the contest, one team has lost their starting goalkeeper AND a high-profile attacking winger (Freddy Montero) had to be subbed off – again, IN A FRIENDLY – so that a barely-beyond-fetus just out of college can be subbed in between the sticks…all as a result of a play WHERE THE FUCKING GUY FUCKING SCORED ANYWAY.

I’m sure that Paul Ward is a perfectly competent referee at MLS level, but he cocked this one up badly. Again, in a competitive match this would not hold water, but 46,000 people paid their money (premium prices due to European opposition, I assume) for an exhibition of high-class football and got this instead. I’d be pissed if it were me.


July 18, 2010 - Posted by | Other Soccer

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