The footballing world are taking sides today in the light of Arsene Wenger’s angry comments about Stoke City’s tackles from behind which injured several Arsenal players. I would go further than calling the Stoke players cowards, I would argue that the lessons of Eduardo have not yet been learnt by professional football players and referees and commentators alike. These cowardly high ankle tackles from the side or behind constitute blatant cheating as far as I am concerned. Those who recall the Sunderland defender’s tackle on Diaby, two seasons ago will understand where I am coming from.
The expressions “put your foot in” is a euphemism for physically hurt the player, to let him know you are there. It is a technical premeditated physical assault. Tackles may be mistimed, but know we need to outlaw the slide tackle from behind that can severely injure a player. The respect campaign for referees is a joke as they see the brandishing of a yellow card as too harsh and would rather lecture the player concerned. What about having respect for the right to play football as it was intended?
People who say that football is a contact sport are wrong. Rugby is a contact sport. If football is played with contact, it should be inadvertent or accidental. This attitude is why we lack the graceful technical players, because cynical fouls prevent them from playing. The game is after all entertainment. Which would you rather see? Crunching tackles from behind with players stretchered off, or graceful beautiful passing movements?.
I am not seeking the outlawing of the tackle, it means however that care must be taken and the tackle well timed, if under the prevailing conditions, a player is reckless enough to cause injury, as the Stoke City players did, then there should be a straight red card. Let’s bring the way to win football games back to a trial of individual technical skill, tactics and beautiful flowing football.