One accusation that has been floating around for a number of seasons and has become much more talked about this season is the question of if certain players escape sanctions because of their reputation off the field and vice versa.
I have to say, on recent viewing I have to agree with this – in the last few weeks alone there have been players who have escaped any kind of sanction for tackles which should have been straight red cards, and others who have been sent off for offences that are dubious to say the least.
Take Frank Lampard – a player who is not known for being malicious or dangerous on the field, and off it has a pretty good reputation to boot – he escaped a red card for a horror tackle in the match against Wolves when Kompany saw red for a challenge that made no contact with Nani some games later. Lampard’s challenge was a certain red card, yet this was not the case in the eyes of the officials.
Likewise this of course works the other way – players such as Joey Barton or Mario Balotelli get such attention off the field – albeit entirely deserved, and this can then influence the decision of the officials when a borderline decision has to be made. Take the Balotelli sending off against Liverpool – would this have happened had the player been say Fernando Torres? Most likely not, then again it would probably punish Chelsea more to leave their misfit on the field than to send him off.
Rooney is a similar type of character and again is well known for his loss of control at times and outbursts, and again it is not a shock to see him pick up a card for something another player – for example Gerrard who seems to be Teflon in officials eyes – would get away with easily.
This is much the same with players winning free kicks and penalties. Certain players have a reputation for diving and thus officials are reluctant to give away a penalty just in case they are being conned. Nani is one of the players well known for his diving practice on the field and you can’t really blame a referee for failing to give him a free kick every time he goes to ground.
Of course I am not saying this is right – players should be judged on the incident that has occurred, not what has preceded it or how they are viewed in the tabloids – yet it is a fact of life that the referee will have an opinion of his own and this may become clouded by what his personal feelings towards the player are – entirely wrong yes, but not an impossible scenario to envisage. Like the accusation that top clubs get favoured by officials, and that Fergie time exists, the worry that some players are treated differently to others is, in my opinion an entirely accurate one. Don’t get me wrong – I do not agree with it or like it, but it is certainly a valid argument to make.
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