Soccer's insane rule: forcing a team to play short-handed

By Paul Gardner

When people pay money -- plenty of money -- to watch a soccer game, they are entitled to receive in return a genuine soccer game. And the minimum requirement for that, it seems to me, is that they get a contest between two teams of 11 players.

The players may not be the ones who the fans would wish for, there may be injuries and suspensions keeping some guys out, and once the action has begun, the players may not perform as well as expected. And it may rain. Or the referee may have a bad day. All sorts of unpredictable things may happen -- will happen, for that is the essence of a competitive game.

Uncertainty about the result gives small teams the buoyancy of hope, and eats away at the confidence of big teams. Without those opposing forces, the fierce excitement of competition is greatly reduced.

Yet we have a situation in soccer where the game itself, the very rules of the game, work to destroy the vital element of hope in a game. Where the rules decree that the paying fans shall not see an 11 vs. 11 game. But rather 11 vs. 10 - or even 11 vs. 9, as happened the other night in the game between Dallas and Colorado.

In that game, referee Mark Geiger red-carded two Dallas players in the first half -- Daniel Hernandez at 34 minutes, Blas Perez two minutes later. I’m not concerned here with the validity of Geiger’s decisions, both of which seemed to me justifiable. What does concern me is what happened next, when the rules step in to order that Dallas must now play nearly two-thirds of the game with only nine players.

At which point the game is destroyed, or at least irretrievably distorted. The possibility of Dallas being able to withstand Colorado for nearly an hour is simply not realistic. And so it proved, with Colorado running out 2-0 winner of a game that had been drained of the suspense and tension that it promised, a game that had been turned into something approaching a farce.

It is easy enough to finger the immediate culprits -- Hernandez and Perez -- and blame them for the fiasco. Hernandez, in particular, should know better than to get himself cautioned for dissent because, given his appetite for rough tackling, a second yellow was always likely. It took only nine minutes.

Hernandez and Perez were duly punished, and will be further punished with suspensions, which is as it should be. But the empty shell of a game left when they departed makes no sense at all. Is there any other sport that so determinedly seeks to ruin its own product?

I have felt for some time now that the rule stating that red-carded players cannot be replaced is a bad one. It is a rule that can drastically alter a game, that can remove the competitive excitement ... that can turn the spectacle of good soccer into the boredom of simply waiting for the inevitable.

I think fans who have payed money -- a lot of money -- to see a soccer game should be allowed just that, an 11 vs. 11 game. The rules should insist on that, as a minimum.

So -- I believe that ejected players should be replaced. Which definitely, and unacceptably, reduces the punishment for the offending team. The clearest answer to that difficulty would be to award a penalty kick for each red card. That may not be the answer, but is an answer, and a workable one.

Soccer has already been through a very similar rethink, and it came up with a workable solution -- one that was vigorously opposed at the time. That was back in the 1950s, when there was no substitution, and when the whole idea of substitution was widely viewed as, if not actually cheating, certainly something that would lead to cheating.

The restraining force of tradition weighed heavily: Soccer had been played without substitutions for nearly 100 years, things should not be changed. But against that was the unavoidable evidence that too many games were being marred when teams had to play with 10 men because an injured player could not be replaced.

By 1970 the argument for substitution had triumphed and that year saw the first appearance of substitutes in a World Cup. And yes, substitution has altered the game in a way that was not foreseen. Its use to replace injured players has been completely overtaken by its importance as a tactical weapon for coaches.

That unexpected development must give pause to any move for a radical rule change. But what I’m suggesting is that the situation now with red card ejections is similar to that with injuries back in the 1950s. Then the rules were standing in the way of correcting a distortion. Now the rules are actually creating a distortion.

Unless the idea is to inflict public humiliation on a team, I do not see the point of a rule that turns a potentially top-class encounter into a sad apology for a game, one drained of both excitement and good soccer, like the Dallas vs. Colorado affair.

I have discussed this matter frequently with many soccer people. Their reaction is overwhelmingly against any change. Which is to be expected. At the same time, I have found that those who defend the idea of reducing a team to 10 or fewer players tend to rely on the “it serves them right” argument. Which, given what is at stake in terms of providing fans with a true game of soccer, hardly measures up as an intelligent response.

But soccer -- by which I mean, ultimately, FIFA -- has no obvious way of judging developments of this sort: Firstly to investigate the situation, secondly to decide whether a change is necessary, and then, if a change is needed, to work out the details of that change.

I have listened to a lot of suggestions about what should be done. The most frequent, I’ll admit, is “Nothing” -- but I remain convinced that the current rule that does not permit replacements for red-carded players and therefore forces teams to play short-handed, is outdated and damaging to the sport.

38 comments about "Soccer's insane rule: forcing a team to play short-handed".
  1. Joey Tremone, May 8, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

    Where's the deterrent if teams can substitute players who have committed major rules violations? Paul, you yourself have said that one of the largest banes in the game is cynical play--how does this not make the problem worse?

  2. mike renshaw, May 8, 2012 at 8:27 p.m.

    The goon would start...take out "Messi" in the first few minutes thus removing the best player on the opposing side while suffering zero consequences.....meanwhile the offending team replaces Goon with someone who can actually play...another poor idea from Paul Gardner.

  3. Glenn Auve, May 8, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.

    There are plenty of times where you see the team with 10 play better than the team with 11 and even frequently win. Now when it gets down to 11v9 that can be a problem. But I agree with Mike. The idea to send out a hack to disable the other team's best player may be too enticing to cynical coaches. Unless there are HUGE post-match sanctions to deter it.

    In that match I thougth Geiger added to the problems by refusing to call anything which led to the temperature getting to high and uncontrollable, so the cards inevitably had to come out. Very avoidable.

  4. James Callahan, May 8, 2012 at 8:36 p.m.

    I'm no hockey fan, but maybe a penalty of playing a man down for a certain time--15 or 20 minutes or so and the player committing the red card offense is gone for the game and the next one. Also, accumulating 4 fouls in a game, even minor ones, should get you ousted with a "penalty box" type infraction of 5 or 10 mintues. That might reduce the fouling but not the faking.

  5. Raul Zavaleta, May 8, 2012 at 8:37 p.m.

    I, like Paul, have been thinking about the same issue, but, like Mike worry about the "goon" consequence he describes. On the other had, we can get creative and come up with the right deterrent. For example, what if a red card merited a penalty kick and the player being sent off and substituted without being allowed to return. I understand change is hard, but FIFA should be thinking about the "good of the game". How long before we get goal line technology?

  6. Christopher Masak, May 8, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.

    First and foremost, there are no "rules" in soccer, there are only LAWS. Second, no no no no no. The ejection of an individual punishes both the player AND the team. This dual purpose inspires coaches to enforce discipline and minimum codes of conduct. If only the player is punished there is little incentive for a coach to do so. This leads to unruly behavior and an overall degradation in quality play. This article is foolish.

  7. Chris Dailey, May 8, 2012 at 9 p.m.

    This is a fun what-if. Good Points, Paul.

    Perhaps losing 1 is enough. You play with no less than 10 when multiple players from the same team are sent off. The ninth player is still sent off but can be replaced. All existing fines and penalties are levied as is.

    Perhaps further penalty could include PK regardless of spot of infraction.

    This is fun - thanks, Paul & Soccer America!

    FIFA would be wise to analyze the send-off rules, and all of the laws of the game to see if there are more sophisticated ways to apply them today. FIFA is examining video technology so adding the laws to the conversation seems appropriate given the context of the conversation.

    I'm available for the focus group!

  8. R2 Dad, May 8, 2012 at 10:07 p.m.

    MLS should be looking to protect players, especially skilled players. It is already too easy for defensive-minded coaches to park the bus, counter and aim for scoring on set pieces, rather than playing skillful possession to earn goals. With questionable refereeing and cynical coaches, MLS already has their hands full. And remember how well things turned out when the NASL modified the LOTG?

  9. Saverio Colantonio, May 8, 2012 at 10:10 p.m.

    Paul, I agree with you on most issues, however, on this one you are dead wrong. I would rather watch a game with one player sent off rather one where a team fields a reserve side because they have a more important game coming up. If a team does't want to play a player or two short then follow the laws of the game. Its that simple. Is it too difficult for someone to keep their shirt on and their mouth shut? Everyone knows that it is an automatic Red card for preventing a goal scoring opportunity. Are these laws too complicated? I think not. I remember the bad old days before cards and I would never want the sport to go back to that as a spectator, player, ref and coach.

  10. Kent James, May 8, 2012 at 11:38 p.m.

    Paul, I didn't realize how brave you were being with such a column. But I agree with you. Yes, sometimes a team plays better with 10 than 11, which is actually worse, since now the team that was supposed to be punished benefits. But usually, the team down packs it in while the other team tries to score; not the wide open game we all love. As it is, one of the reasons referees don't give enough red cards is that it can ruin a game (especially if the card's early), and they know that, so they try to "keep people in the game". I think if the ejected player can be replaced, you'd actually see more red cards (and people like De Jong would be punished more frequently). But if a team ran out of subs, then they'd have to play short (but you'd probably only have teams playing short for late ejections). The penalty kick idea is good, since gifting a goal to a team to take out their best player would not often be worth it (Messi excepted). If it became clear that a player were sent on to take a player out, perhaps the team could be punished (docked points by the league or competition; heck, maybe bring criminal charges for assault...the threat of jail time should deter players thinking of "taking one for the team"). So yes, there might be an increased danger of targeted fouling, but I think it's worth a shot.

  11. David Mirman, May 9, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.

    If the rule change included a PK as Paul suggested, that would address the concerns others have written about a goon taking out a star.

    Also too often refs don't pull a red card even for a clear red card offense, I think in part because the penalty of losing a player is so enormous and can change the outcome of the game. If the player could be replaced, they would likely be more willing to give the red when warranted.

    But then if the PK were also awarded, it might put the refs back to how they are now, to hesitant to give the red because of the effect on the game.

    Basketball suspends players for multiple games for flagrant offenses, soccer could allow the player to be replaced but make the player sit multiple games, not just the one next game like is done now in some leagues.

  12. Alvaro Bettucchi, May 9, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.

    Upon a red card infraction, that red carded player is out for the remainder of the game, (and later more). Then allow a sub, and count the sub as the first of only two/three subs that are allowed.. I've seen to many games turned bad, because of not enough players. After all, the game is for the paying public.

  13. Andres Yturralde, May 9, 2012 at 2:36 a.m.

    Nice. Kind of interesting thought. Similar to the issue of legalizing drugs and prostitution, I wouldn't mind looking at different options to solve the problem. But the first thing I'd like to know is this: how big is this issue? In other words, what percentage of games actually end up 11-v-10 or 11-v-9? I can't go off and just change things because of one particular game. Let's take a look at the numbers.

  14. Andres Yturralde, May 9, 2012 at 3:11 a.m.

    And talking about taking a good look at the numbers, Ric... The reason MLS keeps bringing in Latino talent from outside our borders is because it needs to feed the market. You can't expect people who grew up watching Mexican, Central, or South American soccer--you can't expect them to come out and pay to watch academy boys or homegrown kids. The force and appeal of a foreign player (Latino or otherwise) is much more powerful--and much more profitable, I think. I wouldn't mind seeing the numbers, but I bet you 33 cents that a few more people come out to the stadia when they hear so-and-so will be playing. Just listen to all the buzz about Raul coming to MLS...

  15. Carlos Thys, May 9, 2012 at 5:05 a.m.

    Mr. Gardner writes, "Where the rules decree that the paying fans shall see an 11 vs. 11 game." Well, let me tackle that 11 v. 11 issue for a moment. This is off-the-topic, but related. Sorry. In this modern, much faster game with far better sprinters, better fields, and much, much better footwear that allows for speed demon athletes at nearly every position, I believe it is time to go to 10 v. 10 (GK and just 9 field players) right from the opening whistle for the semi-pro, pro, and even NCAA Division I levels of play. It's either that or increase the size of the playing field. This latter idea is less practical, bordering very, very impractical. So, it comes down to 10 v. 10 if you actually want to -- today -- see a real sporting contest. (Yes, I am just about thrilled when a match is reduced to 10 v. 10 or 10 v. 9 due to players being carded off the field.) There now is no more playing space on the field. A player has, at best, one second on the ball in most sectors of the field when trying to move forward. Sure, this places an incredible premiusm on ball control skills -- a control that even soccer athletes making upwards of $3 million a year in the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A don't even come close to possessing. Players, however, do possess rather good fitness for both halves and can run, jog, sprint and repeat over and over for the full 90 (in most weather/climate conditions - except over 90 F with high humidity) I know that Mr. Gardner is focusing on something else in this column. But I'd like to know if there is active soccer/footballing literature out there on this. Right now, a game starting with 11 v. 11 is almost pointless in terms of real action, crosses, shots, penalty area near misses, etc. when one team (or both!) chooses to "park the bus" and has well-practiced, well-honed defenders who know full well how to grind out a 0 - 0 tie. Example: Chelsea at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago. In a tournament: German coach Otto Rehagle's method for coaching Greece. Best example: See Greece vs. Sweden, Euro 2008.

  16. Carlos Thys, May 9, 2012 at 5:44 a.m.

    Sorry, Mr. Gardner, I have read you for now 2! decades. Agreed sometimes; disagreed a lot. Been neutral plenty, too. On this - TOTAL DISAGREEMENT! On the Dallas v. Rapids game. Was the scoreline still 0 - 0 when the second Dallas player was sent off? Yes. Was it still, a few minutes later at halftime, 0 - 0? Yes. If so, then the losing side, FC Dallas blew it themselves. Too bad that they had to play out all of the second half with just 9 players. But, in America and in the real world, we call this self-induced disadvantage. Self-inflicted. Any coach worth his salt can put together a team talk at halftime to the remaining 9 players that says, "Men, you are about to be the best defenders in the whole league for the next 45 minutes. You can do this! You WILL do this!" And then the coach and his assistants hand out very specific tasks and responsibilities, looking players in the eye and cajoling them into rigid adherence to this total team defending tactic for the 1 point to be gained from keeping it at 0 - 0. Let's face it: It's halftime, you're down a few players, but you are at HOME in front of your own fans (that can be worth A LOT -- c'mon, you can maximize this!) and you still have a point in the bag. Any coach can tell you that one does countless offense vs. defense drills in practice where the offense enjoys the advantage of 2, 3 or even 4 players -- yet the offense cannot score. For 15 minutes. 20 minutes, 25 minutes....Every real team in the world practices this very drill nearly every week in training sessions. One can surely implement it in a game. And fans can get behind this second half strategy; fans can "adjust" their priorities for the game and cheer wildly the "disadvantaged team" as they defend like an immovable, unbreakable Hadrian's Wall. Sorry, Mr. Gardner. Yellow / red cards have consequences. FC Dallas' two players Daniel Hernandez and Blas Pérez did themselves, their team, and, yes, their fans in. Particularly Pérez, as he had just seen Hernandez sent off. This helps the game. Maybe it helps FC Dallas wean itself off mentally incapable players who cannot keep their brains in the game and who need to be dropped from the roster, off pay roles. If the FC Dallas fans are upset about this, they'll loudly convey this to the franchise. Let the marketplace regulate this. And since you bring up the fans' ticket price costs for this home match vs. the Rapids, maybe FC Dallas management could be smart and offer a 25% ticket rebate to any ticket holders attending the May 6th Dallas-Rapids match good for a future match this month or in June? Why not? I would.(It's called loving and cultivating a strong bond and real relationship with the people, the fans, who pay your bacon.) Also, bear in mind soccer fans: What's to say that a Rapids player does not do something wrong and get sent off in the 63rd or 70th minute? Then it is only 9 v. 10. A very poor article here, Mr. Gardner. C'mon, you're much, much better than this.

  17. Carlos Thys, May 9, 2012 at 6:07 a.m.

    In this match in Dallas on May 6th: Colorado Rapids player Tony Cascio gets a yellow card in the 38th minute. The Rapids player Jaime Castrillon gets a yellow card in the 44th minute. So -- both Rapids players are sitting on yellows for the whole of the second half (unless subbed out by the Rapids coach). Don't you think, if I am a smart FC Dallas player, I might know how to get one of these Rapids players into a situation where the referee has no option but to yellow-red them? There are lots of ways to salvage what appears to be a un-winnable situation when one has an entire 45 minutes to achieve it, to work it out. Ever hear of "mind over matter?" This is a REALLY BAD article and line of thinking from Mr. Gardner.

  18. Eric Young, May 9, 2012 at 8:39 a.m.

    Put me down for a change to this rule. I think a penalty kick, the man sent off, and allow a sub is fair and addresses the concern discussed here. I also believe the penalty kick is a fair penalty. In my opinion, it would do a better job of discouraging foul play than the send off alone.

    It has been my suspicion--and I won't name names--that certain players go for a red as a way to get off the field during bad situations. The fact that it would cost their team a penalty kick is a pretty strong deterrent to this practice.

  19. Carl Walther, May 9, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

    Paul, I think you're absolutely wrong on this. What's to stop a team from having three or more thugs (some already do) who's job is simply to take out (injure) the other teams best players. The thug get ejected, and his team puts in another who takes out the opposition's next best player, etc. What's the downside for the thug team? They still get to have 11 players on the field all of the time.
    What a way to completely ruin soccer.

  20. Douglas Wood, May 9, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.

    On the other hand, look at the last Chelsea-Barcelona game. John Terry goes out early on a red card but Chelsea manage to hang on for the win. Yes, Chelsea "parked the bus" but Barcelona also did not adjust their game to address all the Chelsea players packed in front of goal. And the removal of Terry certainly did not turn the game into a boring contest waiting for the inevitable Barca victory. Mr. Gardner's strikes me as a uniquely American way of viewing the game. The fans came to see an 11v11 game, so let's give it to them. No other major U.S. sports -- football, baseball, basketball -- have a rule like this. But under current setup, the fans can see an 11v11 game. The responsibility for that lies with the players to play within the rules. Remove that responsibility and I can only imagine what unintended consequences might result.

  21. beautiful game, May 9, 2012 at 11 a.m.

    In this commentary, Paul must have been smoking a tainted joint. The players who get red carded are at fault, no one else, not the ref and not the Laws of the game. Imagine the brutality that would be brought to the game if ejected players could be substituted. i.e, start bench warmers to hack the oppositions best players would create a farce.

  22. Jack Niner, May 9, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.

    At first blush, I was ready to immediately disagree with Mr Gardner. However, with substitution of another player for one who received a red card, the awarding of PK to the fouled team would seem appropriate. I like the current FIFA rules on player ejection for a red, because it makes it so grave and also makes the second yellow very meaningful - the point is to reduce fouls and I like that since way to many fouls are NOT booked now.

  23. Barry Thomas, May 9, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.

    Paul thinks 11 vs. 10 men is too impactful on the spectators' experience. While I disagree, having seen too many games where drama is actually heightened by such a situation, I'm intrigued by his suggestion of a penalty kick plus a substitution. Wouldn't that give referees even MORE influence over a game's outcome than as the law now stands? Maybe as a compromise, we leave it to the coach of the carded player: play short-handed, or give up a PK and allow the man to be replaced.

  24. Joey Tremone, May 9, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.

    Mea culpa, I totally missed the PK part. That makes the idea plausible (except in the sense that FIFA is unlikely to consider any radical change), but I'd modify a bit: you give the team that committed the red-worthy infraction a CHOICE--they either go down a man. *or* they 'take a penalty' and gain the right to substitute (assuming they have any) the ejected player. My guess is, they'll choose to go down a man, except in some rare situations (up or down by multiple goals, for instance).

  25. Joey Tremone, May 9, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.

    haha, barry just said exactly the same thing.

  26. Scott An, May 9, 2012 at 12:53 p.m.

    No, just No!
    No PK's no sub-in's...
    It is fine the way it is! I just think it's just a thought generated by other major sports in the United States. It would make the game so much more violent and cards would have so much less meanings. One of the worst ideas ever...
    As one of the commenters has said, PK.
    PK? No, it PK should only be a PK if the foul was committed in side the box.
    I have followed Mr. Gardner's articles for a long time, but this is nonsense.

  27. Scott An, May 9, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.

    I know exactly how FIFA would respond to this...
    "We allowed substitution into the game, and now you want what?! Subs for red-carded players? Come on!"

  28. Ramon Creager, May 9, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.

    This sounds reasonable, until you start thinking about the cheating that would happen, as Mike Renshaw pointed out earlier in his "Goon takes out Messi" example. At the same time, Mr. Gardner has a good point about the game itself. Here's a rule that's been used in High School (which I refereed for a while): 2nd yellow = "soft" red. You leave and cannot reenter, but may be substituted. (In high-level games, this would be subject to a team have a sub remaining. No getting a free sub by cheating!) Straight red, you play a man down. No PK, no other changes. I see this as a tweak, no more. If you're stupid enough to get 2 yellows for dissent, for example, you have to leave, but the game doesn't go to hell in a hand-basket and the opposition doesn't get an unmerited advantage.

  29. Kent James, May 9, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.

    I think the people concerned about thugs taking out star players have a valid concern, but I think the PK takes care of it. Sending three thugs to take out their three best players, and going 3-0 down? I don't think so. Additionally, not every red card results in an injury, but every red card would result in a PK. And if a player is so obviously intent on taking a player out that they are guaranteeing an injury, book them on assault charges. I don't think it will happen. My concern about the PK is that it might make referees once again hesitant to show the red card (since it would have an impact on the game). Since the PK idea is more radical, I'd try it without the PK first and see what happens. If it seems like people are "taking one for the team" then add the PK. But I think it's worth trying in a league somewhere to see how it plays out. Keep those provocative ideas coming Paul!

  30. Mark Landefeld, May 9, 2012 at 9:01 p.m.

    PG starts a worthwhile discussion -- LOTG do need to be reviewed and debated every so often if they are to remain relevant.

    If we look at how other sports deal with Serious Foul Play and Violent Misconduct, they do allow for a substitute and even in Hockey, limit the time of numbers down.

    Regarding the Goon taking out Messi argument, the powers-that-be need to start suspending offending players for the length of the victims incapacitation WITHOUT PAY. That would be a good start.

    I also think the US High School "soft" red substitution has merit.

    We need an environment to test out some rule changes (other than a 1st Division).

  31. Aris Protopapadakis, May 9, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.

    I often agree with your column but not on this one. Playing 11-10 because of injury (likely inflicted by the other team) is one thing, playing 11-10 because of a self-inflicted injury (a red card violation) is totally another matter. It is part of the sanction and implicit in this is that team pressure ought to constraint players from getting red-carded.
    Soccer has many counterproductive discontinuities caused by the rules (foul right outside the 18yd line is a foul with what a 10% chance for a goal) while just inside the 18 yd line the fould ets you a 70% chance for a goal!
    Personally I think infractions ought to be better calibrated, more like in hockey for example.

  32. Scott An, May 10, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

    Wow... People are actually agreeing to this...
    As far as PK's go, you can't give away PK's unless the foul was committed inside the penalty box. It is okay to tweak the LOTG for NCAA and high school competitions, but when it comes to professional competition, that is unacceptable! Playing a man down is a punishment for both the player and the manager: player for wreckless challenges, and the manager for not disciplining the player

  33. beautiful game, May 10, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.

    Amazing, the comparisons with other sports whose nuances have nothing to do with one another. PKs instead of a red card? Simply delusional. If the coaches, refs and the leagues did their jobs properly, goonery would be diminished significantly.

  34. Scott An, May 10, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.

    I w Nowizeniuk, you are so right!
    This is so ignorant, the game of football is its own unique game, I don't see why they are trying to compare it to hockey and basketball.

  35. Jogo Bonito, May 21, 2012 at 6:54 a.m.

    Another great thought-provoking piece from PG. Great points that I've never considered. I always enjoy the reader comments. Often they untentionally strengthen PG's points. I just have to say to "Christopher Masak" that it's not a "law"that we must refer to FIFA's rules as "laws" ... If they were "laws" then it would be easy. The player that commits the foul would arrested and, in most countries, have an attorney and be awaiting trial. Until that's the case, I refuse to give in to the ridiculous idea that we all must call them "laws"

  36. Andrzej Kowalski, May 24, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.

    I agree with PG. I also would like that there are should be a different card for dissent, so the player would be expelled for a dissent and substitution for the expelled player would be allowed but no penalty would be granted.Penalty should be only for fouls.

  37. Peter M Beaumont, June 21, 2015 at 3:07 p.m.

    Seriously, I just cannot believe such a bigoted and US sports concentric view.I would suggest you try red carding NFL thugs.
    The only serious way to stop aggressive abuse of the rules is to make a teams lose players.
    To not see that is frankly naive.

  38. Tony Cinca, June 29, 2015 at 10:03 p.m.

    I have heard the "goon" argument and it is perhaps the only thread by which the rule is hanging on to. Does anyone remember the 2010 WC final between Spain and The Netherlands? Approximately 25 minutes into the match Nigel De Jong did his best Chuck Norris imitation with cleats perpendicular to midfielder Xabi Alonso's chest. But what was not issued at the time of the infraction ? To make matters worse guess who FIFA chose to be the head ref ? Howard Webb ! And why did he not issue that red card ? Obviously because The Dutch would have had to play with 10 men against the possession game of the Spaniards for the next 65 minutes. So I do believe it is time to reevaluate this rule. The most beautiful game but not its rules.

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