REFS HAVE TO WATCH FOR THE SUBTLE STUFF
PLAYERS are routinely lambasted for going down too easily but it isn’t hard to see why they do.
Early in the first half of Leicester’s 2-0 win at Burnley last weekend, Foxes striker Jamie Vardy – no stranger to winning spot kicks – scampered through on goal only to find his arm in the vice-like grip of Clarets defender Jason Shackell.
To his credit,Vardy tried to keep going but unsurprisingly lost his balance. The ball was hacked clear and all appeals fell on deaf ears.
In fairness, Shackell was clever. He yanked Vardy back on the blindside of referee Chris Foy. But Vardy’s movement alone should have told the officials that something was amiss.
The problem is that referees hardly ever give a penalty unless somebody hits the deck. It’s why so many blatant grapples and obstructions go unpunished, why forwards are all but assaulted on corners.
It’s easy to accuse players of diving, to call it a curse on the game. But if the alternative is being fouled, wouldn’t you?
By taking the easy option and refusing to blow up for the subtle stuff, referees are making a rod for their own backs.