The IFAB did a brilliant job when they clarified the law with regards to foul challenges. In an effort to gain more consistency they went to the trouble of defining what was a careless; reckless and reckless with excessive force challenge and the appropriate punishment
A Careless challenge is penalised with a free kick.
A Reckless Challenge is punished with a free kick and a yellow card.
A Reckless Challenge with excessive force that endangers the safety of an opponent is punished with a free kick and red card.
Referees have a duty to apply the law in a correct and consistent manner. Sometimes we attempt to cover for the lack of appropriate action by a referee by saying that he did not send a player off because it is a local derby or that entertainment and keeping 22 players on the field of play is so important.
But referees are appointed to control proceedings and to be consistent in their application of the law. Anthony Taylor is a good referee but failed in the Merseyside derby to dismiss Ross Barkley and Ashley Williams of Everton. Barkley’s challenge was reckless with excessive force, he was issued a yellow card which is the incorrect application of the law. A player has a duty of care towards his opponent, Barkley failed to apply that and because he was not sanctioned for his first reckless challenge, he decided that he could take matters into his own hands.
Later we saw Williams go over the top and into his opponent and was fortunate that the over tolerant Taylor did not show him a red card.
So to you referees out there, please apply the law and the guidelines clearly defined by the IFAB,
who offer further clarification by defining challenges in this manner.
Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. A free kick is sufficient punishment.
Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and MUST be cautioned.
Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of an opponent and MUST be sent off
There can be no doubt that Barkley and Williams should have both received red cards had Anthony Taylor applied the law correctly. That said, this particular referee has many positive aspects to his style of officiating. He remains calm when the going gets tough, and his communication, movement and positioning are terrific.
But in the words of former Premier League referee Jeff Winter, when talking to his colleague Mike Riley some years ago, he said: “Hey Bonny lad that too soft you need to get tougher.”
I would offer the same advice using Jeff’s words to Anthony.