Anorak | Thinking Outside The (Penalty) Box: Tackling The ‘Professional’ Foul

Thinking Outside The (Penalty) Box: Tackling The ‘Professional’ Foul

by | 8th, July 2014

THINKING outside the (penalty) box: tackling the ‘professional’ foul


WITH the World Cup semi-finals upon us, it’s as good a time as any to remember Laurent Blanc, the French captain who received a red card the only one of his entire career in the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup, and missed the final thanks to Slaven Bilic’s theatrics.

There were no Gazza tears, just Gallic stoicism. He said he had only himself to blame for raising his hand.

Blanc shared the presentation of the cup with Didier Deschamps, and avoided any John Terry-style ridicule for doing so in his team shirt, but it must have been a bitter pill to swallow all the same.






In recent years, FIFA have addressed the problem of accumulated yellow cards, thus making career-ruining suspensions less likely for finals although a red in a semi will still see you banned.

But what of the other side of the coin? What of the teams who are knocked out of the tournament because of cynical, calculated ‘professional’ fouls which deny them a crucial goal?






These days, denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity is supposed to be punished by a straight red. Sometimes it is punished by both a red card and a penalty.

But sometimes it is punished by neither, or not punished at all. And then there is the question of when the incident occurs: a red card in the first minute is clearly a serious disadvantage, but this is not the usual scenario.

Such incidents are far more likely to occur in the final minutes, as one team fights for an equaliser, and the relative advantages and disadvantages shift firmly in the winning side’s favour.

The classic scenario: a forward breaks from around the halfway line with two team-mates, and a defender pulls him down by the shoulder. Result: a yellow card for the defender and a harmless free-kick in the middle of the pitch. Offending team goes through and defender plays in next match

Scenario Two: the forward goes clean through on goal and is tripped from behind, 25 yards out. Result: red card and a free kick which is unlikely to result in a goal. Offending team down to ten men for a few minutes and wins the game; defender misses the next match.

The problem is that discussion always focuses on what is the best way to punish the guilty player, rather than the best way to compensate the team that has been wronged. As a consequence, the guilty team can end up being rewarded for their player’s misconduct.

So how could this situation be rectified to compensate the team that has been denied an almost certain goal?

Awarding a penalty for fouls outside the box doesn’t seem

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Posted: 8th, July 2014 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink