Rules on tackling are there to protect players, not to appease fans

It's time for supporters to realise that player safety is more important than any notions of tackling being marginalised...


The most boring comparisons in football are when ex-players talk about how things were different in their day.

There have been a few contentious red cards in recent weeks and pundits are out in force offering their takes on how tackles way back when were ‘proper’.

Pro tip: read the updated laws of the game before you start spouting nonsense.

Funnily enough, football in 2017 isn’t played in 1978 and the rules are adjusted accordingly. Whether you think that’s fair or not is irrelevant: you watch the current variation of the sport and footballers can’t be condemned/compensated by your takes if you’re analysing a sport you watched four decades ago. Do your job.

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Disciplining players for misconduct is done simply to discourage them from doing so again. Whether or not that works, the precedent is set and there’s an appeals process – so you can’t complain too much. Yes, the game is played at a wicked tempo and yes, the players cannot anticipate every movement.

They can be held accountable for their actions, though.

Sadio Mane was part of an unfortunate incident. It’s unfortunate for Mane because he was suspended. It’s far more unfortunate for Ederson though – who took a boot to the head and consequently required his face to be stitched back together. That’s dangerous – get over it. He misses a few games, but it raises enough public debate that players might refrain in future from raising their boot that high.

Imagine you’re a manager, and you’ve spent a record club fee on a player who’s on the receiving end of a dangerous tackle. But because a panel of has-beens reckon that player’s not made of ‘the same stuff as [they] were’, the media narrative suggests the ten weeks he spends on the sidelines is ‘part of the game’.

You go on a bad run in his absence and lose your job. Some parts of the game are avoidable and the powers-that-be have every right to be overly protective. We’re talking about careers. Your three points or your armchair-based hot take can wait.

People like to discount the fact there’s a rulebook.

Of course, there are grey areas, and referees take the full brunt for that disparity in opinion. The game isn’t slowed down for officials – the same way it isn’t for players. Maybe had a referee not sent a player off for a similar foul in the past, Mane would have been booked. If you think that’s the appropriate punishment, you should go get your head checked alongside Ederson.

Football is played by athletes that usually forego education for the chance to take on a career that could be ended by one horror tackle. They’re well-paid for it, but that’s tangential. The cost of your BT subscription isn’t reason enough to give you the right to abuse officials for protecting human beings from suffering serious injury or losing their livelihood.

Your Twitter account isn’t reason enough to personally abuse human beings for making decisions, committing fouls or, in even more pathetic cases, being on the receiving end of them.

If a referee acts within the laws of the game, he’s doing his job. If you have a problem with that, your issue is with FIFA – not the player on the end of a rash challenge, nor the official protecting the players you apparently look up to.

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What do you think?