About a Foy

I know, I know; not another football fan moaning about the injustice served out to his team by an inept referee, but anyone who watched the televised clash between Sunderland and Norwich City on Sunday can't help but sympathise with those following the yellow and green.

About a Foy

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March 24th, 2013

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For those that weren’t sat in front of the TV for yet another ‘Super Sunday’, allow me to take you through each incident – along with what I believe to be the correct call as set out by the FA rulebook.

Four minutes after taking the lead at the Stadium of Light, the Canaries were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Mark Bunn was sent off by referee Chris Foy. Bunn was forced to race out of his area to clear a poor header from his centre back Michael Turner. With Sunderland striker Danny Graham bearing down on him, Bunn jumped to meet the high ball which struck his chest and then bounced onto the underside of his arm.

The man in the middle produced a red card for “denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball” as is set out in the FA rules. A harsh decision but, in my opinion, the correct one; had the ball not struck Bunn’s arm then Danny Graham would have been through on goal. Norwich City have since appealed against this decision on the grounds that Bunn did not deliberately handle the ball, but this was rejected by a FA panel.

Incident number two centres around Sunderland’s equaliser. On the 40-minute mark Chris Foy awarded the home side a penalty after the assistant referee decided that Norwich City centre-back Sebastien Bassong had handled the ball in the area, even though the ball appeared to roll across the Cameroon international’s chest before hitting his arm.

This was the wrong decision, and here’s why:

According to Law 12: Fouls and misconduct in the FIFA Laws of the Game 2012-13 “a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player handles the ball deliberately”. It’s quite clear that Bassong has gone to chest the ball down and it has rolled onto his arm and is therefore not a deliberate handball, but there’s more to this. When the ball was played into the Norwich City box, Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher was in an offside position behind Bassong, forcing the defender to play the ball. Had Fletcher not been there – in an offside position – then Bassong would have no need to play the ball and would have let it roll out for a goal kick.

The assistant referee should have flagged for an offside against Fletcher and awarded Norwich City a free-kick rather than signalling a penalty. In terms of the passage of play, the offside offence occurred before the ‘handball’ decision. Those that would argue that the ball never arrived to Fletcher and therefore the assistant referee had no cause to raise his flag should refer to Law 11: Offside in the FIFA Laws of the Game 2012-13:

“A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent.” Fletcher was both interfering with play as the ball was played to him and interfering with an opponent as his presence made Bassong play the ball.

Which leads me onto the third and final decision of the game, and for me the most clear-cut. With 70 minutes on the clock the Canaries were denied a clear penalty. Russell Martin’s cross from the right was blocked by Danny Rose’s hand – two yards inside the Sunderland penalty area but, instead of a spot kick, the visitors were only awarded a free-kick outside the box.

Three major decisions and – by the letter of the law – only one correct, so you can see why Norwich City fans won’t be too enthralled when they next see Chris Foy listed as officiating their game.


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