In the Laws of the game, different words are used for different types of incidents. Under ‘dangerous’ for example is something like the scissors or bicycle kick.
Great goals have been scored in this way, but it becomes ‘dangerous’ when it threatens injury to someone or prevents an opponent from attempting to play the ball.
Often it happens in the penalty area, where space can be limited and if considered ‘dangerous’, will normally require nothing more than an indirect free kick to the opposing team.
Foul tackles come under a different heading, split into three sections. The first is what the Law calls ‘casual’, but which I think of as an everyday standard trip. It requires a direct free kick to the opposing team, but normally not a card of any colour.
The next step is called ‘reckless’, which the Laws says is acting with disregard to the danger or likely consequences to an opponent. It’s usually at some pace, perhaps a tackle from behind. It is possible to tackle fairly from behind, but it is quite rare.
A rough guide is if the opponent has already played the ball and player falls over the outstretched leg, it is a fair tackle. However, if the player is ‘recklessly’ brought down before the opponent plays the ball, it is a foul, and might deserve a yellow card.
The third section is the use of ‘excessive force’. For force think speed and distance.
Are the tackler’s feet off the ground, which means there is less likely to be control of the tackle, especially if coming in with speed from a distance.
Does the tackler have a leg out straight, which if contact is made, is more likely to create serious damage. Are the studs showing? Above all, it’s a question of control. Once made can the tackle be halted.
What brought this to my mind was when watching on television, the cup tie between Crystal Palace and Everton. Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin was sent off after VAR prompting, for a tackle on Nathaniel Clyne. Many thought this was harsh as there was only a graze on Clyne’s calf.
However, a slow-motion replay showed a sliding tackle with feet off the ground, leg straight out with studs showing. However we couldn’t tell its speed so how much control there was.
Was it ‘reckless’, or ‘excessive force’, with pure luck that Clyne suffered only a graze. The answer of course, is in the eye of the beholder. In this case the VAR.
By Dick Sawdon Smith