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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


The Red Card To Vincent Kompany – What the Laws of the Game Says

Written by on January 9, 2012 | 19 Comments »
Posted in The Officials' View

Here is what the Laws of the Games states regarding what constitutes a foul, what an official gives a yellow card for and what constitutes a sending off offence.

You will note that there is nothing that says contact has to be made when serious foul play is involved – and other offences when it comes to that.

What Constitutes a Free Kick Offence?

“A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
• kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
• trips or attempts to trip an opponent
• jumps at an opponent
• charges an opponent
• strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
• pushes an opponent
• tackles an opponent”

What is a yellow card given for?

A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
• unsporting behaviour
• dissent by word or action
• persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
• delaying the restart of play
• failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
• entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
• deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission”

What is a red card offence?

A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
• serious foul play
• violent conduct
• spitting at an opponent or any other person
• denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
• denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
• using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
• receiving a second caution in the same match

A two footed tackle would be included under “jumping at an opponent.”

What constitutes serious foul play?

“A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play. A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.”  

How does the referee judge whether he has witnessed serious foul play?

“Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play. Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play unless there is a clear subsequent opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player guilty of serious foul play when the ball is next out of play.

A player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off and play is restarted with a direct free kick from the position where the offence occurred
(see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick (if the offence occurred inside the offender’s penalty area”

Note – Violent conduct comes into play when a player is not challenging for the ball.

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19 responses to “The Red Card To Vincent Kompany – What the Laws of the Game Says”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Let’s be clear, its as much the interpretation of said rules as anything. If you go by the letter of the law every player that surrounds the ref after a call, should get a yellow card. I believe that only captain is suppose to speak/interact with the ref.
    The other thing that struck me was the card rule for goalies. In my opinion I’ve seen goalies get straight reds when yellows should have been given.

    As for Kompany, it looked bad. It seemed as if intention was there. Being a bad tackler doesn’t excuse him.
    And yes, as stated in the other post, Scholes has gotten away with much worse.
    The most surprising thing about the call, was that it was given so early.

    I think that we can all agree, that referee tendencys,.players/teams reputation, and even stature comes into play on every call. Fair or not,.that’s the way it will always be. Frankly I get it and don’t mind it.

    Let me add that “interpretatio” has made its way to the NFL, in them trying to protect the players. There’s never been so much angst over legal hits.

  2. shmish says:

    That was a horrible tackle and accepting that everything comes down to interpretation of the rules, I can’t fault the red card. The red card meets the requirements as set out by the rules (thanks Bobby), and I don’t see how the tackle can be defended. Early or late in the match should make no difference. All football players should applaud the red card, as it might save their career one day – ask Eduardo or Ramsey if they think it is a red card offence.

  3. J Rob says:

    “Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play”

    I am unconvinced that Kompany’s foul:
    – constituted a lunge (he seemed in 100% control);
    – involved excessive force (it wasn’t a particularly hard challenge); and
    – endangered the safety of an opponent (Nani)

    Good to see the definition. I totally agree now that Jay Spearing’s challenge against Fulham last month on Muamba was clearly a red even though not malicious.

  4. Seun says:

    If Mr Foy was the ref in the last El Clasico…at least 5 players would have been sent off. How refs interprete these laws is just as important as the laws themselves. Any reasonable ref always try to avoid giving red cards at the early stages of matches except it is absolutely unavoidable. Tackles like that have gone even without a foul being given. To sum up, EPL referring has been way below par this season and we are only half way through.

  5. redfan says:

    Kompany knew there was no one behind him and made sure he did not let the ball past. He, imho, did this knowingly and took the risk to stop a goal scoring chance. There is no question he lunged or jumped in with both feet and as the law states, lack of contact is irrelevant.
    I agree that there is too much inconsistancy in the interpretation of the laws (game by game) by referees and the longer this goes on the more I feel we will see two refs tried before, or as well as, video replays through the 4th official. Too much money is at stake for the inconsistancies to continue at the rate they are. As said my opinion but it is a ‘pressure cooker’ that needs to be relieved somehow.

  6. Tom H says:

    If you watch Kompany’s tackle in slow motion, you see that it is the side of his right foot that hits the ball (not the studs), and he positions his left leg where it will not take out Nani. Unfortunatly for him, this makes it look like a dangerous two-footed studs-up lunge. I’m not surprised he was sent off, but still feel he was unlucky.

  7. I wonder what the headlines are going to be for the next 24-hours. “Arsenal achieve clean sheet with Squillaci in starting line-up” perhaps?
    Even if Henry does nothing else over the next four or five weeks the goal against Leeds makes it a decent investment based on not having to fit in a replay.

  8. Soccerlogical says:

    Typical Henry goal from days of old.

    Don’t think it did any good for Young Park or Chamakh who both proved to be very good strikers before Wenger decided to buy them for bench warming duty and not develop a plan B.

  9. J Rob says:


    This season is playing out (like a sometimes R-rated version of ) “Roy of the Rovers”. Next edition to feature Swansea’s new signing Rory Donnelly as the Northern Irish “Hot-Shot Hamish”?

  10. Ed Gomes says:

    Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Henry is just a diversion to once again getting nothing accomplished in the transfer market for the long haul.
    I’m also perplexed on why Henry was so winded after playing so little. Wenger also mentioned how he’s “almost” in game shape. Huh. Is the MLS season so grueling that he’s spent, or so poor that he didn’t bother to get into game shape. True or not, in Henrys mind its the latter.

    I also found the hesitation by Wenger, when asked about playing Henry alongside RVP, funny. RVP could say all he wants, but Henry becoming the returning hero will tarnish/diminish his season. That will not bode well in the locker room or field.
    It would follow Wengers pattern of burying players, Shamahk, so Gervinho should be next.

    Bobby, no matter what anyone says, I still believe that Arsenals goal keeping issues remain the same. They are no better off than Man United right now. That’s actually inductive of SAF/Man United recent perplexing decision making than Arsenal standard operating procedure.
    Man United’s goalie is plying his trade at Roma, for some inexplicable reason. Actually, Bayerns would have been just as good. DeGea has long arms, but he’s not long body wise. The rest, well we’ve seen those results.

  11. Anyone chiming in here – you are way off base with your comparison of Szczęsny and Almunia. Apples and oranges. At 22 Szczęsny has a full season of Premier League football under his belt and has a number of international caps for Poland – a country that has some decent options in goal. At 22 Almunia had yet to play a top flight game anywhere.
    Keepers don’t get to the professional level without being decent shot stoppers and having the physical tools. The difference between the good and not so good is decision making and the ability to keep errors in context and not allowing a previous mistake to influence the next performance.
    That was what let Almunia down. He was signed as a back up keeper and ever achieved based on circumstance and good run at the right time.
    If Szczęsny has a major fault at the moment it might be too much confidence.

  12. Soccerlogical says:

    ED – Szczesny is NO Almunia….. and it’s Chamakh NOT Shamahk!!!! The Pole is firmly on his way to becoming a Petr Cech/van der Sar (in their prime).

    Szcesny (21 yrs old) is arguably the best young keeper in the world and the most promising of all under 23s around.

  13. fabr04 says:

    Agreed that Szczesny is far superior to Almunia, and thus far he’s better than De Gea, too. For the first time since Lehmann left, I do not think GK is a problem position for Arsenal.

    RE Kompany: thanks for posting the laws of the game, Bobby…but I’m not sure I’m any wiser as to whether it should have been a red. It sounds like two-footed and studs showing aren’t the issue; what matters is whether he used excessive force and endangered an opponent. I didn’t think he did, but I suppose I can understand why others would disagree.

  14. Andre says:

    I tend to think the red was excessive because as someone mentioned above a close look at the tackle shows Kompany was in control of both legs. The fact that Nani ran on oblivious to the fact a foul had been called instead of falling and/or asking Kompany be disciplined says something as well. To me anyway.

  15. Ed Gomes says:

    Excuse me for the misspelling of Chamakh. I was posting using my cell, so didnt have the freedom of researching names while typing. The misspelling doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s been misused by Wenger.
    I hope people don’t think I’m saying AVP needs to sit. He’s clearly Arsenals best player, but players like Chamakh need to be involved in order to be effective.
    You can possibly add Arshavin to that. He is clearly sulking now, but plenty led up to it. Let me add I was never a huge fan of his.

    As for Sczesny, people need to take a deep breath. Bobby I agree that you have to be a very good shot blocker to get to the “pro” level. You’re level of greatness or mediocrity is basically established by your level of confidence, smarts, reaction time, defensive stability and leadership of said defense.
    I would be foolish to say he stinks, but to say he’s ready to be an all time great, mentioning him with AVDS says that, is foolish.
    He’s only 21 and has a lot of maturing to do. Recently his positioning of balls being crossed hasn’t been good. Meaning he’s sat back or went after it at the wrong time. Arsenals defense could also curtail improvement.
    I never like Almuna, but if Arsenal is a “world class” club, they could have gotten a more experienced established keeper, Stekelenburg, or young and experienced, Neuer. The team would have been better off.

    Frankly, I don’t understand why Man United doesn’t have either of those two keepers I mentioned. They weren’t crazy costly, and one of them (Neuer) was/is despised by fan base.

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    ED – I agree 100% about Wenger misusing Chamakh and Park Yung.

    PS re: Sczesny
    “….but to say he’s ready to be an all time great, mentioning him with AVDS says that, is foolish.”

    I said the Pole is firmly on his way to becoming a Petr Cech/van der Sar (in their prime).

    – Please don’t “spin” my words…. this is NOT FOX NEWS or The Rush Limbaugh Show!

  17. Ed Gomes says:

    Once again I have to apologize.

    But I guess to say he’s on his way to being AVDS or Cech, is the same as saying (insert any young goalie here), is on his way.
    I would say that Hart is well on his way to such distinction. Sczesny, not so much. I’ve seen plenty of young keepers that have looked like world beaters in the beggining and folded when expectations rose. There’s plenty of work left for him to do, in order to maintain his number one status at Arsenal, nevermind being world class.
    By the way, Sczesny is tied for 6th in most goals suffered in the league (Cech is 10th). Yes I would be right with you in blaming Arsenal’s shoddy defense, but the 28 goals surrendered in 20 games isn’t good. Let me add that some of the goals suffered came due to miscomunication with a defender. The blame falls on the goalie when that happens, especially since it happened more than once.

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  18. Andy Gillespie says:

    Look at the Giggs scissor tackle from behind on Aguerro in the same game or the Evra elbow to Micah Richard’s face in the opening minutes if you really want to see red card offenses. One rule for Man United, one rule for everyone else.

  19. Ed Gomes says:

    Andy, “Big Clubs” have always gotten the calls. Fair or not, that’s the way football has been since the beginning. The big clubs and stars, especially in those clubs, get the benefit of the doubt.
    City can spend and buy all the players they want, but they have a long way to go before they have the pedigree of Man United. Especially if the bottom doesn’t fall out from Man United.

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