Archive for the ‘chelsea’ Tag

Help kick ball-boys out of football   Leave a comment

Chesterfield-20130122-00610Eden Hazard was guilty of violent conduct in the match against Swansea and was rightly sent off.  It doesn’t matter what Charlie Morgan did as the player clearly interfered with the ball-boy which is a sanctionable offence.  I am surprised that any can defend the Chelsea player.

I won’t suggest that the Swansea City ball-boy acted entirely properly; I see it is reported that he has apologised for his part in the incident,  However Hazard must know that in football you have to sometimes endure that which is unfair; the defence of provocation is never a successful one.  Had Morgan spat at Hazard, struck him or impugned his Belgian nationality it would not be a defence to striking him.

Some feel the fall and subsequent reaction to the kick were exaggerated.  There might be something in this view but we seem to be in a football culture where making the most of any touch or infringement is the norm.  That said the bottom line is that you don’t touch the ball-boys!  There is precedent for bans when players have pushed those kids fielding the balls so there is no excuse.

My view on Morgan and his colleagues is that they had no interests in returning the ball with any haste.  However in most cases having a ball-boy makes the game quicker than not having one despite that in all stadia where all sides are occupied there is no need for the pitch side assistants.

If there are delays because of the conduct of the ball-boys that is for the match officials to assess.  It is possible- even probably, that sluggish ball-boys might prevent the losing team from taking quick restarts when they are chasing the game but in this case it was actually a Swansea restart.  The ball-boy in question seems to have reacted slowly to the ball going out for a goal-kick.  He then got between the Chelsea player and the ball when Hazard wanted to move it to the goal area.  Morgan then fell on the ball when the player touched him resulting in Hazard kicking the ball from under him.

The contact with the ball-boy was enough to penalise Hazard, his kicking at the ball under Morgan made it an automatic dismissal.  Had the ball-boy been a defending player who shielded the ball and fell under contact then it is likely that Hazard’s kick would have been a sending-off issue with the ball out of play.

In retrospect what the Chelsea player should have done was just make sure that Chris Foy noted the delay and added on time.  That added time is an issue in football and the lack of understanding of the rules and inconsistent application might be one of the reasons Hazard over-reacted.

The laws of the game say:

  • Many stoppages in play are entirely natural (e.G. Throw-ins, goal kicks). An allowance is to be made only when these delays are excessive.
  • The fourth official indicates the minimum additional time decided by the referee at the end of the final minute of each period of play.
  • The announcement of the additional time does not indicate the exact amount of time left in the match. The time may be increased if the referee considers it appropriate but never reduced.

In terms of checking the time played the referee never actually stops his watch.  He usually communicates with his senior assistant or fourth official if he is adding time.  Normally there will be no time added for the natural stoppages in the game but he will note when a physio comes onto the pitch, where there are unnatural breaks or where there is time-wasting.

In terms of the latter, if it is a player then his first option is to caution the player involved.  For instances where the crowd or even ball-boys delay the game then it is down to the officials to add time on.  Where a substitution is not instant (it is after all part of the game) or where there is a goal celebration that is prolonged then time will be added.  Thirty seconds is a rule of thumb and is probably correct  where the leading team finds the withdrawn player as far from the bench as is conceivable- if it is the losing team and the player runs off then the process will not take that long.

The time signalled by the fourth official will always be a “minimum” figure.  If the referee determines two minutes 50 seconds then it will be indicated as two minutes.  You couldn’t have the game ending before the added time has elapsed.  With delays and time-wasting becoming more common towards the end of the game then it is always possible that there will be added time on the added-time!  If any team questions that added time the fourth official will have noted the significant stoppages.

In the case of the Swansea match I guess that potentially the actions of the ball-boy would have meant a delay of a few seconds.  Had Hazard waved his arms and complained then he might actually have caused a few seconds more to be added to the stoppages for what seemed to be futile efforts by his team.  In pushing and kicking the ball-boy the player was sent-off and deserved that sanction.

Posted January 24, 2013 by dalekpete in football, Uncategorized

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John Terry-justice done?   Leave a comment

I think the decision to prosecute John Terry for saying “fucking black cunt” to Anton Ferdinand was the correct one.  I also feel that the decision of the Chief Magistrate to acquit was the right one.  The case is significant for society and football but it also leaves the FA in a quandary.

Essentially we had the England football Captain accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words within the hearing of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress and those words were racist.  This is actually a comparatively minor summary offence that can only be heard in a Magistrates Court and for which the penalty is a fine that any Premier League footballer could pay out of his petty cash.

However we could all see that a conviction for using racist abuse could be a taint that would kill a career, particularly at international level.  In an age where progress is being made by projects such as “Kick it Out” to be labelled a racist is a very serious issue.  That said, this was not a case to determine whether John Terry is a racist.  Just as in the Suárez civil case before the FA, the question was whether the player uttered abuse that had a racist element rather than whether that player was a racist.  The Judge in Terry’s case pointed out that all the character witnesses showing Terry’s inclusive nature were irrelevant to the substance of the case; it wasn’t a question of being a racist just using racist abuse.

As a summary matter this case could not go to the Crown Court and play in front of a jury.  For all we treasure the trial by jury as a significant part of our justice it is good to see a senior Justice at work.  In the Magistrates Court a District Judge can sit in the place of a bench of lay magistrates.  In this case it was a Senior District Judge, the Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle.  Judge Riddle was able to carefully explain his thinking in finding John Terry not guilty.

As I read Judge Riddle’s judgement he was certain that the CPS was right to bring the prosecution; John Terry had a case to answer.  There was no doubt that Terry had said, among other confirmed abuse, “fucking black cunt” to Anton Ferdinand.   He found Ferdinand and Terry to be good witnesses but there was confusion over the context in which Terry has said the “offensive” phrase.  Terry stated at the time that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying it and so had repeated the phrase back to him to highlight how ridiculous it would be for him to say that. He maintained this account throughout.

The exchange was part of a cycle of tit-for-tat abuse between the two players.  Most of the exchange, that the players couldn’t remember in detail, seemed to involve remarks about Terry’s sexual improprieties.   From a football perspective it is telling that the remark that ended up in court seems to be just an element of a “slanging match” that was part of a game of professional football.  In an age when football authorities are campaigning for respect on the football field this is telling.

John Terry isn’t a racist.  Although the Judge questioned his explanation of his uttering the offensive phrase, there was enough doubt to find that he had not committed a criminal offence.  However Ferdinand and Terry were involved in outbursts on a football pitch that have no place in the modern game.  There is still racism in our society and our national game but every reasonable person knows it is irrational.  The work done to combat this bigotry in and out of the game is why this case could be brought to court.

The admitted abusive exchanges between professional footballers shows that we have a long way to go in terms of the Respect Programme. As someone who has gone into classrooms to sell the principles of fair play and respect in sport and so in general life, it is galling to see the message trashed by those appearing regularly on the children’s televisions.

The FA suspended its investigation when the CPS suggested that there might be criminal action.  An acquittal in a criminal case where the test is one of reasonable doubt doesn’t mean a test on the balance of probabilities for a similar matter cannot succeed.  I expect that the FA will have to consider both the  “racial” of what John Terry said and the wider question of the two players’ exchanges on the pitch at Loftus Road.

It might be argued that there is sufficient evidence to find John Terry of at least bringing the game in to disrepute.  Anton Ferdinand was the victim in the criminal case but also seems to have a case to answer when we are looking at fair play in our national game.  It will be interesting to see how the FA takes this forward.