Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Penalty - Crime and Punishment

By Lee Jaundrell   12/12/12

Sometimes in football you don’t get what you deserve, you play well, make chances, but the ball just doesn’t go in the net. You lose, it happens. Sometimes you get more than you deserve, and on occasions this is due to the rules, sorry the LAWS of the game.

At the weekend Joe Allen handled a Diame shot in the box. There was much debate as to whether this should of been a penalty, but as the laws stand it was a definite penalty. Allen was stood 2 yards away from Diame, the shot was hit with power and Allen had no chance of moving his arm out of the way. Not necessarily deliberate, but we are to interpret the law in such a way that because Allen’s arm was head height, it was in an unnatural position, therefore a penalty. If his arms had been down beside him and the ball hit an hand then this wouldn’t be a penalty.

Anyway, this isn’t actually the point I am looking to make. The shot from Diame was heading high over the bar if the unfortunate arm of Allen hadn’t got in the way. The punishment for this was a one on one shot at the goal from 12 yards. This is hardly fair. There was no danger of the shot of threatening the goal. The punishment does not fit the crime. The rule is plain wrong.

The week before Newcastle were awarded another debated penalty against Wigan, this time Maynor Figueroa shoved Papiss Cisse in the box has he was running onto the ball, and probably about to get a shot on goal. It was an harsh decision but probably the correct one to award the penalty, Figueroa was then shown a red card. Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, after the game questioned the decision, “I think a penalty and a red card is too much punishment. I thought it was harsh.” Basically, Wigan were punished twice, firstly with the penalty and then with the sending off. You may argue that the sending off is an added punishment to deter future ‘Willie Youngs”.

For all you kids out there, Willie Young was a Scottish centre half who played for Arsenal in the 70s and early 80s, and was famous or infamous for a tackle on Paul Allen in the 1980 FA Cup Final between West Ham and Arsenal. Paul Allen was at the time the youngest player to play in a cup final at 17 years and 256 days, and was one of the major stories leading up to the big game. Late in the game with West Ham leading 1-0 Allen found himself through on goal when Young hacked down from behind just outside the box. Young was booked, Allen didn’t quite have the fairytale goal. This was before it was a sending off offence to deny a goalscoring opportunity.

In my opinion, on that May day in 1980, West Ham should have been given a penalty, even though it was outside the box. It would have been the fair punishment. Or maybe, they could have been given a choice, a penalty or a free kick outside the box and Young sent off. Newcastle last week should maybe have been given a similar choice between a penalty, and a free kick and a sending off. What would you choose?

Everyone remembers the Louis Suarez handball against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, and also the Phil Neville goal line handball in the Merseyside derby a few years ago, when Lucas’ goal bound shot was knocked away. Ghana by rights would have scored if Suarez hadn’t intervened with his hand. Suarez was sent off, Ghana awarded the penalty as the rules dictate. But, Ghana didn’t take advantage. In both incidents the referee should have the option of awarding a goal. Or again offer the offended team the choice, a penalty and a sending off or a goal. Again, what would you choose?

This is very important area of the pitch, and if the laws are wrong, you’re not going to get what you deserve. In the 2 Allen and Figueroa incidents the punishment was too harsh, whereas in the Suarez and Neville incidents the punishment plain wrong.