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Question Number: 27245

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/14/2013

RE: Competitive Professional

Ali of Vancouver , BC Canada asks...

Of course, controversy has stirred because of Nani's red card for a studs-up challenge on a Real Madrid player. One could argue that nani's red card was correct because Nani should have kept his studs down and he is accountable for not keeping them down. However, someone else could argue that Nani's red card was an incorrect call made by the official, Turkish referee cuneyt cakir, because he was simply trying to control a ball in mid-air, and had no intent to make contact and potentially injure the Real Madrid player, and was not aware that the Real Madrid player was there in the first place.

I am a referee myself and have done many games up to competitive adult league, and I realize that sometimes, the game is played very fast. At the same time, referees are sometimes in an incorrect position to see things, and may make a call that some disagree with simply because of having a different view of it, for example, making an offside call if you are the only official in the game.

Did this referee make the correct decision in sending off Nani for the studs-up challenge? What should a referee look for in a game when trying to decide whether a person should be sent off for a studs-up challenge?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ali
In my opinion the referee made the correct call. Leaping in the air with the boot that high and in that manner making heavy contact with the opponent's chest is endangering the safety of an opponent and that is a sending off offence. Had there been no contact the referee would have also been justified in a caution for being reckless and an IDFK restart.
Pierluigi Collina, UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer, has highlighted to UEFA's top referees that player safety is a key determinant and that referees are recommended to be 'strong' in applying the Law of the Game. Mr Cakir followed the instructions given to him by UEFA

This is what UEFA Referees have been told
'' In determining the seriousness of an offence (such as kicking, tripping, jumping at, striking, pushing, charging an opponent), referees were reminded that they should take into account:
# The element of intent or malice;
# The speed of the player's action (intensity);
# The tackler's chance of playing the ball;
# Is a player endangering the safety of the opponent?
Particular emphasis was placed on the elimination of challenges where a player gives no consideration to the safety and welfare of an opponent. Any challenge involving excessive force, and therefore endangering the safety of an opponent, must be considered as serious foul play and the offender must be sent off. Brutality must always result in dismissal "".

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

IMO, a clear red card.

Intent to harm someone is not the issue (despite what some former players say). The question for the referee was 'Did Nani's actions endanger the safety of the player?'

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Good red card. No question. At this level of play the paradigm to adopt is that nothing happens by accident. Nani knew the other player's location and that a challenge would develop - make no mistake. Follow the position of Nani's leg before, during, and after the challenge and you will see that he makes absolutely no attempt to pull out of the challenge even when it became clear that an opponent was becoming involved. Nani knew exactly what he was doing and was doing so with the intent of at least intimidating the other player. On top of that, certainly the challenge met all of the criteria mentioned above for endangering the opponent, etc. Granted the angle of view can be a factor, as you mentioned, but this ref got it right. Also, all the very public denigration of the referee by the coach, etc, is, IMO, nothing more than an attempt to get referees to second-guess similar situations in the future. Bravo that the ref's decision was very publicly supported. All the best,

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