Kim Milton Nielsen

I could not help noticing a couple of issues which are currently the cause of much debate in the United Kingdom and you may be interested to hear a personal and a Danish perspective on both.

I remember the old days before red cards were so common and the advantage used to be with a team who denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The way the laws work now was intended to correct the balance but instead we have the so-called triple jeopardy scenario, where a player who commits a foul in the penalty area risks conceding the penalty, missing the rest of the game and then serving a suspension of one, two, possibly even three subsequent games.

I know there are several suggestions out there and it used to be every close season that the debate was raised here in Denmark when I was active as a referee. So I will deal with some ideas and then tell you my own preference.

Keith Hackett of You Are The Ref has a good point when he suggests that the penalty award and red card should not automatically be followed by a suspension.

On the other hand there is Clive Thomas, who was ahead of his time in many things but with whom I disagree on this issue. He wrote that one day he is sure penalties and red cards will be given for fouls outside the penalty area as well, if it involves a last man… while the suspension remains. That is way too harsh in my book.

Another suggestion I have heard is that if the penalty is conceded by a goalkeeper then it should only be a yellow card, never red. The problem is, what do you do if a goalkeeper commits a different kind of foul than a dive at the attacker’s feet?

If he knows he has a kind of immunity then he could push the player more violently from behind, for example, or commit anything that a defender might do but which would mean a red card for that defender!

Again there are too many grey areas even if it might sound a more fair arrangement than what we have at the moment. For me, the key lies in the wording: with a penalty you are no longer denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity, as it is the best kind of opportunity there is. A free kick gives far less chance of scoring.

You have an English phrase which fits here: the exceptions prove the rule, so whatever the solution you can bet there will be a problem or two to go with it. However, I think in the case of DOGSO, the best way is to award a penalty but only give a yellow card, whether it’s a goalkeeper or an outfield player. If it’s outside the area, still give a red.

With the decision at the Etihad Stadium which saw a ball which was out of play crossed for a Manchester City goal against Everton, there were calls for the extension of video technology beyond what it is used for currently. By the way, even though it is under discussion, we don’t have this technology in Denmark as we decided for now it is too expensive.

UEFA recently confirmed it will be used in Champions League games as well as Euro 2016 but I think it is far easier to get this right at a tournament, where you are not required to use a mobile set-up.

The camera angles have to be calibrated each time and even then, in my opinion, it must be used only for black and white issues and not for those requiring interpretation.

You only have to look at our daily interaction to know computers are not foolproof. Otherwise we would already have them driving for us…. and if we did, how many cars would automatically stop in the middle of the highway and cause long queues, whereas a human will find a way to get any problem fixed with minimum disruption?

As long as you end up with the right decision, I can assure you that is what referees want above all, whatever country they happen to come from.

Vi ses
Kim