Friday, December 23, 2011

Why the red card? The goalkeeper played the ball (of the fan).

For those who have not seen, check out the video below of Ajax and AZ Alkmaar, where Costa Rican international Esteban Alvarado fought back against a pitch invader in the 37th minute of the match, and was sent off by the referee for kicking the 19-year-old fan to the ground.

My sole question is simple. Do the LOTG support the Alvarado send off?
My sole answer is even simpler. Yes.

So where does it say that?
Let's start in Law 12 under "Sending-off Offenses." There are (7) of them, any come to mind?

One answer may be "serious foul play." Does that work?
Absolutely not.

Why you ask? Because serious foul play is reserved for when the ball is in play (which this was), but the action has to be committed against an opponent, inside the field of play, during play, when challenging for the ball. Most of these last requirements were not met.

How about "violent conduct?" That to me is how this one should be written up as it meets the requirements which are (from the LOTG, with my emphasis in bold.):

Violent conduct
A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball.

He is also guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person.

Violent conduct may occur either on the field of play or outside its boundaries, whether the ball is in play or not.

There are a couple of things to note here. First, you can't send off a fan. Cautions and send-offs are for players and substitutes ONLY. A referee can take action on "team officials" however they are "expel(led)", not "sent off." A fan is in the purview of the local authorities.

A referee has a duty however to "stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind", and "ensures that no unauthorized persons enter the field of play." So while the Alkmaar coach took his players off the field (and I agree with him), the referee had the power to do the same. Also, and as a practical matter, referees at this level cede authority of preventing unauthorized access to the field to the local authorities as well.

I'm going to offer an opinion on this one and say I agree 100% with the referee.

Why you ask?

Because if the player pushed the fan away and that was it, even landed a shot (as Alvarado did) to get the guy off him, no problem. No caution, no nothing, just drop the ball (for the outside interference) and get on with it. At that level I may also have a chat with security at halftime (8 minutes away) to get a better security presence or I may abandon the match.

BUT, when Alvarado took not one, but two nasty kicks at another who was on the ground and defenseless, he had to go. This referee IMHO did exactly the right thing is removing brutal behavior from The Game. Yes, it was provoked by an attack on the Goalkeeper, and yes, it could have ended when the fan was on the pitch and the alternate referee came in to grab him, and yes violence needs to be removed from The Game, not just player on player.

Need another example of violent conduct? Here is a great one. This guy didn't even leave the stands.


  1. Red card was rescinded:

  2. Thanks for the link Nelson.

    I think that's crap personally and stand by my opinion. The GK literally kicked the crap out of the fan, and has some responsibility to act like a professional.

    Also, how does this play on the referee? What action would have occurred if there was no send off?

    I have a hunch, the referee would have been castigated for the lack of a send off.