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Coaches defend shirt-tuggers
by Mike Woitalla, November 5th, 2008 7AM



[EPL REF WATCH] Seeing as it is virtually impossible to accidentally tug an opponent's shirt, one would think it perfectly justifiable for referees to punish severely this insidious habit, yet a couple of English Premier League coaches have slammed a ref for calling the obvious infraction.

In last Saturday's 2-2 West Brom-Blackburn tie, rival coaches Tony Mowbray and Paul Ince disagreed with referee Mike Jones' penalty-kick call on Ryan Donk for yanking on Jason Roberts' jersey. They claim that since he wasn't near the goal, the ref should have ignored it (and the rulebook).

"It bewildered me," said West Brom boss Mowbray, who claimed that if referees blew for every tugged shirt teams would wind up seven vs. seven on the field.


Actually, if refs cracked down on shirt-tugging, players might actually stop the practice.

Ince, on the other hand, went with the "everybody does it" argument.

"You see [pulling shirts] in Italian soccer all the time," said former Inter Milan midfielder. "Nine times out of 10 people just let it go so it was a bit harsh on West Brom to be fair."

Mr. Macho was also upset after Benni McCarthy was ejected for two yellow cards: "Red cards for malicious tackles, studs up, dangerous ones, fair enough. But it's not a game for women."


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