The 1-1 draw between Liverpool & Chelsea was in many respects a typical encounter. Some decent football interspersed with ridiculous amounts of moaning, whining and play acting. Ah, the beautiful game. But that’s not what I want to talk about. The penalty that gave Chelsea their equaliser was the central controversy in the game and raises an interesting issue.
Now I don’t care if Malouda made a lot of the contact or not. Actually, I’m not sure he did. Seemed to me both players tried to avoid a collision and the Chelsea player fell. Such is life. But the plain fact is that it should not have been given as a penalty and we saw Liverpool players making their feelings known very clearly. It was a poor decision but perhaps from Rob Styles’ angle, it was a clear cut foul.
It is unedifying to see packs of footballers surrounding a referee who will not change his decision, no matter how wrong it was. And nor should he under such pressure. However, an injustice was done. I feel very strongly that the captain of any football team should be allowed to appeal decisions his team feel are wrong. I’ve mentioned this before I know. Give each team three chances to appeal to ensure the system is not casually abused and let the video replay ref decide. In this case, a clear mistake was made. You might be able to argue an obstruction on behalf of Steve Finnan the defender but nothing else. The penalty would then be withdrawn. Importantly, the decision has to be final or we will merely substitute one pack of angry footballers for another in a different coloured strip. Check out rugby to see how this works.
If you allow appeals, you can so quickly remove the heat from the situation. The referee can even invite a team captain to appeal. He can then talk to the players involved and in seconds, make his judgement. You are also then free to make dissent at decisions a sin-binnable offence. After all, players should then be complaining to their captain and asking for an appeal, not raging at the ref. I know all this is laced with a little naivety but it makes good sense. It doesn’t stop post match pub chat but what it does do is, in these days when huge sums of money are at stake, make sure that match-changing decisions are correct. And surely we all want that.
I’ll return to this subject later in my series on ‘What should be done in football but won’t be…’