KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Michel Platini has been handed a further reason to rail against football’s lawmakers after being rebuffed in his bid to water down the so-called ‘triple punishment.’
The French president of the European federation was not happy last year when the International Football Association Board voted to approve the use of goal-line technology.
He complained then that FIFA president Sepp Blatter cast FIFA’s votes without discussing issues in advance within the world federation’s executive committee.
A new rebuff to Platini was delivered this morning when IFAB rejected UEFA’s proposed wording for a new interpretation of the ‘triple pubishment.’
This is the three-way sanction for a goalkeeper who has brought down an goal-threatening forward and who not only concedes a penalty but incurs and a red card and subsequent suspension.
UEFA was directly involved last week by one such incident in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich. The Gunners had goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny sent off for bringing down Arjen Robben and went on to lose 2-0.
Platini reacted by contesting the expectation that a referee should show an offending goalkeeper a red card rather than yellow. He said: “It seems excessive, The penalty is itself already is punishment enough. I think it’s something that everyone in FIFA and UEFA but one or two of the countries that make up the International Board are unwilling to change.”
Clearly Platini’s mathematics were mistaken. The International Board needs six votes out of eight to approve a law change and UEFA’s proposal not to red-card a goalkeeper denying a clear goalscoring opportunity did not achieve even that.
Instead IFAB forwarded the issue to its two advisory football and technical panels to see if a clearer interpretation for referees is possible.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general, said: “There was a lot of discussion that this [proposed new wording] would increase the potential for cynical fouls so th request from UEFA was not approved.
“It has been decided that the advisory panels will discuss it and see if there is any way to end this discussion once and for all.”
Explaining the background to the ‘triple punishment’ FA general secretary Alex Horne said: “This was introduced post the 1990 World Cup to stop cynical tackles and all of us felt that taking UEFA’s wording carte blanche would reopen the door to cynical fouls.
“This isn’t to say we don’t understand the issues. We had a long debate about whether we could reinterpret what constitutes a ‘goalscoring opportunity.’ That is clearly a red card offence.
“We think our decision is the right thing to do reiterating . . . we should remove it only very, very cautiously.”
Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, echoed Horne’s comments.
He said: “There are problems in trying to deliver more consistency because we do accept that mistakes are made in the application of the rule. But denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity is a red card offence . . . and the referee has to make that decision.
“It’s such an important and emotive topic for players and clubs that we don’t want to flip-flop back to where it was.
“There were cynical tackles, particularly by goalkeepers, and if they know they cannot be sent off they will simply take out the attacker. When you have a situation like that sometimes a penalty is a more difficult task [than an open goal].
“We know it’s a major topic the football community feels strongly about but it is so complex and will have such an impact that we’ve got to get it right.”
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