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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Referees must take their time

TEAMtalk guest Tom Reed believes that referees like Cuneyt Cakir need to think before brandishing their cards, as it only ruins the game.

Last Updated: 07/03/13 at 11:01 Post Comment

Nani: Dismissed by Cuneyt Cakir against Madrid

Nani: Dismissed by Cuneyt Cakir against Madrid

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The match that the "world had stopped to watch" had entered its 56th minute and the global audience were waiting for Man Utd's Nani to control the ball mid-air and skip past Alvaro Arbeloa, but instead the winger's boot connected with the torso of the Spanish defender.

Ready was referee Cuneyt Cakir, who has outshone the paparazzi flashbulbs of untold important matches with the luminescent glare of his yellow and red cards.

You can forget the fact that the Old Trafford club were well on top before the incident and that Alex Ferguson, in his swansong years was denied a chance to add another European Cup to his incredible achievements.

And You can even forget the arguments about the recklessness of the challenge which will rumble on for weeks.

The real issue is that by sticking obstinately to the black type of the letter of the law, officials the world over are killing the spirit of the game.

How come, as children we could play football for hours, often with fifteen players a side and have no need for a referee?

Referees are called referees because they are there to refer to in the case of a dispute. They should be nothing more than peripheral, anonymous figures, improving the flow of matches and not impeding them.

By building up referees to be interfering influences, ready to pounce at the smallest misdemeanour, removes the responsibility of the player to think for themselves in terms of the spirit of the game.

More so, many players come to think of the referee's likely decision when judging their next move.

At the very heart of the matter should be a dedication to keeping twenty-two players on the field at all times. Yes, by a strict adherence to the rulebook, Nani's challenge could be seen as a dismissible offence. But since when has football been a sterile sport with no freedom for unburdened thought or common sense?

Football is the beautiful game, and with beauty comes imperfection.

Cakir should have given Nani a yellow. A word in the ear and a "steady on" would have been sufficent for an occasion where the audience were willing the best side to win. When a player is sent off the sport is diminished, something just doesn't feel right.

But then again maybe it was fate that a referee lauded for his ability to handle Istanbul derbies would go on to give a red card in the match. If you massage a man's ego by praising his aptitude in coping with extreme situations maybe he will go into the next with a siege mentality.

With the advancement of television camera technology, contentious red card judgements in top-flight games, which prompt officials to take a good hard think, may well be sent to video decision. If the offence is considered a dismissal but with space for leeway, then an enforced substitution is the better option. If this means amending the Laws of the Game then so be it.

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