There's A Good Reason For The 'Double Punishment'

Many say that offenders like Martin Demichelis should not be punished twice with a red card and a penalty, but Philip Cornwall argues that there is a good reason for it...

Last Updated: 19/02/14 at 11:48 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Mourinho's Little Horse Cut Down To Size


After Chelsea's title hopes took a severe blow with defeat to Sunderland, Matt Stanger ponders where it went wrong for the Blues. Jose Mourinho has much to answer for...

Rodgers And Martinez: Showing Peers Up As Phonies


While other managers have been quick to speak about limitations, Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez have pushed the boundaries to embarrass their peers...

All Articles

It is always a struggle to summon up sympathy for a player who commits an obvious offence on the fringes of the penalty area and is punished by a spot-kick, and Martin Demichelis would be no exception even without Manuel Pellegrini's complaints. Still, the incident raises questions beyond that of how many matches the Manchester City manager will watch from the stands.

The defender's prospects of reaching the ball without first taking Lionel Messi were slim to nonexistent and Manchester City's protestations about where first contact took place were overblown; seeking reward for committing a foul a fraction of a second before the Barcelona player reached the 18-yard line is to miss the point that justice would have been best served had Messi simply gone on to score. City were unhappy about the dispossession of Jesus Navas, but they had been undone and should not have benefited from Demichelis's desperation. There remains the question, though, of whether they suffered too much.

John Collins raised the perennial issue, of whether the red card plus penalty is too great a punishment (allowing for it being a spot-kick and not a free-kick just outside). These are, undeniably, game-changing moments and when there is a hint of controversy about any aspect of the decision the double blow appears especially harsh. But Demichelis's hopeless challenge - hopeless in the sense that it stood no chance of being successful - was a reminder of exactly why this double punishment exists, and of the risks of removing it.

There are circumstances where any player would commit an offence to preserve his team's chances - such as Luis Suarez's handball for Uruguay in the dying seconds against Ghana at the last World Cup. If the ball goes in then his team are out; the penalty and red card were worth the slim chance that the spot-kick would be missed, as indeed was the case. Far more frequently, though, the risk of suffering the double punishment acts as a deterrent.

As when people call for the abolition of offside, the fallacy is to imagine that we would have the game of today; change the laws and tactics change, too. Every time you see a player pull out of a hopeless challenge in front of goal because he considers the punishment would be too great, without the red card to go with the penalty he would instead dive in. After all, what the hell?

The reason why we wound up with the double punishment was because of what was known at the time as a professional foul, because players were making that calculation. That was before football became quite the high-stakes game of today; it mattered hugely but it was a more patient era. Now, coaches would not hesitate to tell players to take the man, cynically denying opponents obvious goalscoring opportunities.

You cannot but feel sorry for defenders who make successful tackles that are misread by the referee, and who suffer a double injustice. But given that we will never have perfect officiating we have to ask ourselves which rule would give us the fewest injustices. And that is the current one.

Philip Cornwall

The Aussie rules fix is just daft. The Ref has to do justice but the question is, is it too much. I reckon the Ref should have three cards, say a blue one. The other two would be used the same but the blue one would be a sin bin card say for 5 to 15 minutes. This way the side that has committed the foul will still get punished but they will get their player back. This should only be used for fouls where a red card would be issued for non violent tackles, if the victim is injured then the other player should walk with a red. But you still have the possibility of the rule being abused, a player. Doing deliberate handball in the penalty area. If the thinks he will come back on then he will do it again. There has to be a fail safe. Refs do need better education with handballs at the best of times but even so deliberate handball in the pen area should be a straight red IMO.
- crow

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

Latest Photos

Footer 365

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce pays tribute to Dylan Tombides

Sam Allardyce has paid tribute to Dylan Tombides who died on Friday at the age of 20 following a battle with cancer.

Roberto Martinez feels Everton have moved on since Marouane Fellaini joined Man United

Roberto Martinez has questioned where former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini would fit into his current team.

Premier League: Steven Gerrard hopes 'phenomenal' Brendan Rodgers enjoys long Liverpool reign

Captain Steven Gerrard has hailed Brendan Rodgers as "phenomenal" and hopes the manager can build a legacy at Liverpool.

Mail Box

That's Why We Didn't Want Jose At United

There is plenty of reaction to Mourinho's antics (Isn't that exactly what he wanted?) plus thoughts on Connor Wickham, Fabio Borini, beach balls and Tim Sherwood...

Kieran's Not The Only One Keeping Notes

Another chap in the mailbox has been keeping notes on comments made by optimistic Man United fans. Plus, Garey Vance is offering a double-or-quits on his new tattoo...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property