The Voice (Botswana)


- BAD-EXAMPLE: kids copy this stuff

Most top-flight football managers in Europe want to give the proposed blue card idea a red card.

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp summed up their objections when he said it was just another example of the Internatio­nal Football Associatio­n Board making things more complicate­d for referees instead of simplifyin­g their job. “It’s another thing they can get wrong, so it could easily lead to more abuse.”

I agree with that assessment, but that doesn’t mean I think blue cards, with their temporary dismissals, are a bad idea. Not at all levels of the game anyway, especially since football players are role models in Botswana and most other societies around the world.

One of the best reasons for kids to be involved in organised sports is because it can help them develop a sense of fair play and respect for authority. And I think being sent off for ten minutes when they behave badly might help them sort out their values. I also think the system might help parents and other supporters behave better during games and encourage more people to become referees.

Last week, the IFAB announced trials for blue cards would begin next year at levels below Europe’s elite leagues. But, exactly where they will be tested won’t be announced until March.

Sin-bins, similar to the system employed in rugby, have been used at grassroots level for players who verbally abuse referees, but their use could be extended to intentiona­l fouls as part of the new trials. England’s Premier League, meanwhile, has already ruled out being part of those tests, while football’s world governing body, Fifa, said blue cards at the elite level are still a long way off and may never happen.

The sending off policy was first tested in 2018-19, with the Football Associatio­n reporting a 38 percent reduction in dissent across 31 leagues. So, on the back of that success, they were introduced across all levels of grassroots football from the 2019-20 season in an effort to improve levels of respect and fair play. They are now also used in lower levels of the National League system and women’s football.

FA Chief, Mark Bullingham, says he understand­s why some people would like to see blue cards and sin bins used in the top leagues as well. “There is frustratio­n for fans when they see promising counteratt­acks ruined by intentiona­l fouls.”

One example of an offence that might have been a blue card occurred near the end of the Euro 2020 final when Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini grabbed England’s Bukayo Saka by the shirt, preventing him from breaking away towards goal. It wasn’t a red card because Chiellini wasn’t the last defender, but supporters of the rule change say the offence should have been punished by more than a yellow card.

But, regardless of where blue cards are used, I’m glad the authoritie­s are looking for new ways to crack down on players and managers who abuse officials and set bad examples for our kids. And I think it is important to remember that football is just a game… and that referees are essential if we want to see reasonably fair competitio­n.

Referees will never be perfect, but no one ever deserves to be abused.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Botswana