Sunday, January 23, 2011

FIFA's "Laws Of The Game 2010/11" Rule 12 - Fouls and Misconduct (Cautionable Offences) is a complete farce.

"A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the
following seven offences:

• unsporting behaviour
• dissent by word or action
• persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
• delaying the restart of play
• failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner
kick, free kick or throw-in
• entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee's permission
• deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission"

It is offences 1, 4, 6 and 7 that can all be applied to goal celebrations as West Ham's Frederic Piquionne unfortunately found out to his peril yesterday at Everton's Goodison Park.

Piquionne was sent off for a second bookable offence after putting the Hammers 2-1 up yesterday in the 84th minute. With his team rooted to the bottom of the Premiership and having had a shit start to 2011 both on and off the pitch, you can't help but understand Piqionne's obvious joy and relief at possibly securing three vital points for his side.

Running over to the Hammers jubilant travelling support, he hurdled the advertising hoarding and celebrated with his fellow Irons, receiving a yellow card and his marching orders from referee Walton in the process.

Now obviously I'm biased in this particular incident because I'm a West Ham fan, but putting that aside, I would have felt exactly the same if it has been an Everton player.

It's absolutely ridiculous. Sure you can argue that them's the rules, and it says that it MUST be a booking, but it's one rule almost all football fans the world over would like to get rid off. Walton's hands were tied and it probably cost the Hammers two vital points and who knows, at the end of it all, maybe their Premiership status.

The farce surrounding bookings for goal celebrations stems from FIFA's decision in February 2007 to get tough on this horrible blight to the game. Forget diving, harrassing referees en masse, spitting, reckless challenges. How dare a player show any emotion at all when it comes scoring a goal.

The fans make football. Without us, football would be nothing and FIFA would do well to remember this sometimes. We want nothing more than to celebrate our team scoring a goal and if the player celebrates in with us, then it makes it all the more special. What harm does it do? It delays the game by seconds and as long as there's no incitement of the oppostion support, then why not let it happen. It's not planned. It's natural human spontaneity.

In 2007, it was announced that "FIFA are to take a tougher line with goal celebrations from next season. They are set to agree new legislation next month that will mean a player must be booked if he climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal, removes his shirt over his head or covers his head with his shirt. Referees must also show the yellow card for gestures they consider provocative, derisory or inflammatory. This could extend to a player cupping his ear with his hand or even celebrating a goal in front of the opposing supporters.".

The latter is way more of an incitement to oppostion fans than celebrating with your own. We see it almost every week but it's seldom punished but by the letter of the law, it MUST be.

In the "Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees" section in "FIFA's Laws of the Game" document, it is written for section 12 that:

"While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been
scored, the celebration must not be excessive. Reasonable celebrations are allowed, but the practice of choreographed celebrations is not to be encouraged when it results in excessive time-wasting and referees are instructed to intervene in such cases.

A player must be cautioned if:

• in the opinion of the referee, he makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory
• he climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored
• he removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt
• he covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item

Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence in itself
but it is essential that players return to the field of play as soon as possible.
Referees are expected to act in a preventative manner and to exercise common
sense in dealing with the celebration of a goal".

Something has to be done to try and make FIFA see commonsense and relax these rules. It's gone well past the ridiculous stage and high profile fall outs from the law make it look even more so worldwide.

There's little enough joy and fun in football these days and less than many when you're a West Ham fan.

We complain when players don't show passion and commitment to the cause and act like all they care about is picking up their huge wage packets. We want to see that they care about winning as much as the fans every week, then when they do show it, apparently FIFA don't want them to.

Why change the things that are really damaging the game though when you can just clamp down on emotions. Completely fucked up.


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