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Tough - A Debate On The Bad Side Of The Physical Game
Perrygarl (FC Seoul) 6 years ago
When the incident we all know happened between Arsenal vs Stoke, you could see it in everybody's faces. The Arsenal players, the Stoke players, the fans, staff and officials. This wasn't meant to happen, this isn't football.

Or is it? About six months ago I played in a charity tournament with my friends, we had regularly played in a league and had been on very good terms with the venue running this as the longest-serving team, which is why we were asked to join. In the final match, we played a group of youngsters, about my age, though a lot stockier-built than I was. They had hit the gym, and naturally bigger parents than mine. Still, I had my strengths, relatively quick, nimble on my feet, able to turn sharply and suddenly with the ball. I'm glad I was.

Within the first five minutes of playing I ran towards the goal. The first tackle did not go for the ball, I brushed it off as it barely touched me and continued. Another player came running towards me, I veered for the right wing, he carried on straight forward and slide-tackled, this got me a little harder on my left-leg, fortunately, because I'm light-footed, my leg was just knocked and I kept my balance. But the third player who came in knew exactly what he was going for. Somehow I kept the ball and was unscathed, but I stopped and looked towards the referee, signalling enough was enough. Three tackles in about fifteen seconds could have had me in the same condition as Ramsay is in... I am not in any way saying my scenario was just as important, I am telling you this for what happens next. The referee saw immediately what I was signalling to, she was going to notify them at the end of play as I had the ball, but with three players potentially coming into the back of me the next time, she and I could see it being more serious if continued. She told them quite sternly that they knew what they were meant to be aiming for, when one of the culprits said it.

“Come on, that's football.”. Watching the scenario with Ramsey, made me realise just how serious that statement is now.

I have been in some tough, hard-tackling matches, I am sure we all have at some point. I enjoy them. I love a scrappy game where the tackles are thick and fast. They are some of the best games. And there is no love-loss at the end, the team and I give as good as we take and at the end, we shake the opponent's hands and say well played whether they won or lost. We gave 110% on the pitch, left nothing in us despite the irrelevance. It was a hard game. Hard, but fair.

Then there is the other side of tough games. The worst situation I have seen was where a player, frustrated with his team's lacklustre performance against a better squad, put a two-footed tackle straight into the keeper with the intention to take him out. The goalkeeper was fine, but got straight up and attacked the player, then the other five members of the team grouped up on the instigator, kicking and punching him while he was down. The first person that went to help him, was me. These guys were much larger, much heavier. and yet 5 foot 8, ten stone (when soaking wet) of me, had to do something to stop it. I grabbed one player and threw him off and kept him back, to which another team-mate of mine came to do with another of the players. Eventually we got them to stop, then the instigator's team and referee came by. Not one came to help at that point, only my team who was watching the situation get worse did anything to stop it. My team-mate jumped in to get me out, he told me afterwards, wondering why the hell I would try to stop it.

Because it had past the point of a sport, a game, and just became a simple fight... Whether Shawcross intended to hurt Ramsey or not is not mine to question. My opinion, I don't think it was intentional, despite previous incidents. I also don't think a clear-headed Shawcross would even consider hurting another player to put their career in jeopardy.

But who thinks with a clear head while playing? Not everybody.

Remember Danny Guthrie's blatant attack on Craig Fagan:

Then there was Joey Barton

We could pull up a number of tackles from the Premiership alone, all with the intention to hurt, from players who can't seem to think rationally when the adrenaline and testosterone is pumping. Not that it is an excuse, the vast majority of players, of all levels can handle it.

My main concern is how people are going to react to this, not in the way of deciding whether Shawcross meant it or not, my only suggestion is to be wary of newspapers, some sensationalize and look for every possible way to distort the facts, this is something they love, a juicy story with plenty of angles to go with.

I am talking about how people react towards what they saw, and how they implement it in their game. Not just children, the three players in my story were close to my age, why did they feel they had a right to tackle me in that manner? Because they've seen it in the media being sensationalized time and time again, and they want to emulate their idols on the pitch.

Was Shawcross intentionally trying to hurt Ramsey? I don't think he was, but I will never know? Should he be severely punished. Yes. The tackle was clumsy and has placed a player with a possibility of early retirement. Will it be fair if he was severely punished? Yes. And No.

For the F.A to change the rules mid-way through the season would probably be wrong, though they like a good scapegoat to dangle in front of the masses. He will have to be tried under the letter of the law, this means a 3-match ban and any increased ban the board considers. Not six months. But while I think it is unfair if they do consider that, I don't blame them, and if it wasn't for the fact it is past the middle of the season, I would agree with them.

The F.A has a lot of work to do with updating the rules of the game. Leave T.V Cameras, extra officials to the side and the like to one side, just as long as there are new rules implemented on severe tackles. Regardless if a player has been warned, booked or sent off during the game, if what they do is without doubt intentional to injure severely (and we can tell when they try.) it gets dealt severely. Bans for half-seasons at least, heavy fines or compensation for a player unable to do their work and possibly left with no contract. The works.

Not just for the benefit of the players, but to take this out of football as a whole. If children are seeing this is being disgraced by the sport and by the people, they won't do the same and it will be reduced in the future when these kids turn into stars, with kids watching them, and so on.

The media also have a responsibility. I am looking at The Sun and all other Red Top Tabloid Newspapers primarily, but there are plenty of others that do the same. The facts are Shawcross tackled Ramsay, and it caused a broken leg, yet we have numerous sources in newspapers, on television and on-line saying with such certainty that he did it on purpose or it was a clear accident. The story is sensationalized and it causes tension to the fans reading it and the media have done this for decades. Look at the next England vs. Germany game and see if they use “battle” or “blitzed” or “war” in the article, because they have before. To sell papers, they have to get the fan's pulses racing, if not in excitement, than in anger, and that also needs to be changed.

We will perhaps never know if this particular tackle was intentional or not. Nevertheless, we can do something about the procedures of reducing this kind of physicality to happen in the future, from those who think this type of play is “part of football”.

Ant (Liverpool) 6 years ago
I propose that for the worst injuries, the injured player gets an independent check by a FA commissioned doctor. He gets an estimated time of return, then the player that caused the offence is banned from first team football for a time equivalent to that. That's almost an eye for an eye, apart from the pain the injured player has to go through
Perrygarl (FC Seoul) 6 years ago
That's a good idea, I like it. Though, it would have to have a limit, for if a player is put in retirement
Tony (footytube staff) 6 years ago
I have often thought of that myself ant, even in an onfield situation, a player gets clattered and has to go off for treatment, while the perpatrators running aound the pitch and your sides down to ten men, wheres the advantage in that?
And a special mention to all unpaid MAY I ADD stretcher bearers, where ever they may be, salt of the earth and all that mullarkey.... Lol
Ant (Liverpool) 6 years ago
Thanks Tony, I heard that stretcher bearers are really the heart behind football
Tony (footytube staff) 6 years ago
Never knock a stretcher bearer, you never know the time you might need one.... Lol
Yogan (Chelsea) 6 years ago
Part of football? Whoever thought of that statement must be a loser. Where do you see in a Laws Of The Game book that tackles like these are tolerated. Great topic Perrygarl. I think it's a stupid idea
TheTorresBounce (Liverpool) 6 years ago
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.... ! What if the player genuinely went for the ball but was tackling Owen for example, both would be out for 3 months for a completely fair challenge! Tackles are a part of football and implementing that would take away a competitive streak from the game I feel with players always having second thoughts before going into tackles.... Stricter punishments yes, the FA needs to flex its muscles and crack the whip on this matter
Eric (Manchester United) 6 years ago
I agree with you Ant, that's an interesting idea. I'd love to see something like that implemented. But there are always exceptions, when a player wins the ball in a particularly hard challenge and one way or another the opposing player gets injured. Can you really fault the challenger for making a quality tackle that turned out poorly for the challenged player? It happens a lot. More often than not it's the malicious tackles that cause injury, though I don't think there was anything intentional in Shawcross's challenge; the result of it was a worst case scenario really
Soccergal293 (Barcelona) 6 years ago
Wow nice!
Blueskiesahead (Chelsea) 6 years ago
Most of us on this site have played football and so most of us should know that there is no greater satifaction than to win something due to pure determination and effort. Their is also nothing more heartbreaking than to lose when playing in such a way. And we all love to see those hardworking players such as kuyt, terry, fletcher, rooney, and maicon who give their all each and every game. Do they make stupid decisions at times? Certainly. But we still love to see players like these not just play for the money and fame but because they truly enjoy it and truly want to win for the sake of the club, country, or even for their own competativeness. Hard tackles are a part of this. I know first hand that when you want a game so bad, you are more than willing to put your own body on the line to get that ball back. To take this away from the game would be to take away players such as those mentioned and would also decrease the quality of play we see today. Some people can not improve their game without giving it their all each and every day they practice and participate in matches. Some people lack the talent others have but are able to improve souly due to the effort they put into the game. Unfortunatly this effort results in rash decisions and at times, horrific injuries. But every person that decides to play this sport, decides to put their body on the line for this sport. Thus it is consentual and I honestly do not believe that ramsey would want these hard tackles taken out of the game even after this incident
Matt (Footytube Staff) 6 years ago
This debate seems to fall into two sections. First we have the physical nature of the sport we all love and Second the punishment for 'bad' tackles.

Football is a contact sport as such it is totally impossible to remove injuries from the game, be it a dead leg or a broken ankle. To take away the contact will be to fundamentally change the game. As Blueskiesahead mentioned each footballer who takes to the pitch does so with the knowledge that they may get injured and that is the risk they are prepared to take.

The rules of the game have been amended a lot in my lifetime to decrease the risk of injury to players. The no tackles from behind rule was a great addition and has had a great impact on the game.

Despite this rule we still see tackles from behind. Players will always make mistakes and or rash decisions. When I used to play regularly I was fond of a well placed sliding tackle coming out the other end with the ball.

One time I was playing on a typical English summers day so it was pouring down. Their winger who was a skillful and fast chap was bringing the ball down the wing I came in for a slide tackle after I had gone to ground the player turned on the ball and where the ball once was there was now just the back of an ankle. Despite my best efforts to pull out of the challenge I wiped the player out and he took no further part of the game (turned out to be nothing worse than a knock).

Being *cough* years ago when such things were permitted we lost nothing more than a free kick.

The point of this long winded slightly biased story is to show that in this challenge there was no intent just a shortage of skill and a bad descision. I am sure if you asked the other player he would insist I was a dirty so and so and should of been sent off and banned for life.

Which leads me to the second point on the punishment for bad tackles. The problem as shown in my example is the decision of intent which must have a bearing on the outcome and length of any ban. Also people are suggesting a correlation injury and severity of the tackle where I feel this is not the case. I have seen some downright horrific tackles that have left the receiving player, albeit luckily, unscathed. So should these tackles be left unpunished?

Not many answers from me here or even suggestions on how to improve the situation. I am not sure there are any effective answers to this situation. If we pose the question what punishment should Ryan Shawcross receive? We will have every possible answer from 'nothing' to 'break his leg'.

As bad as it is for the injured player and his team it is part of the (ugly) game which I think is impossible to remove without taking away from the sport
AbbeyC 6 years ago
I disagree with the injury-length ban for these reasons: As has already been pointed out there is a difference between a tackle with intent to damage and a shoddy, late, tired one. Irrespective of whether the 'tackled' player is injured by a challenge intended to injured, the player making the heavy/late/ill-directed/two-footed challenge should receive greater than a three-match ban. I also think that players should be banned from all competitions, including internationals in such an event, until the ban has been lifted. The purpose of such a ban is to encourage serious reflection on the part of the offender, so that, in similar circumstances s/he would not re-offend.

The case of the Shawcross tackle is perhaps more difficult to judge. It seems generally agreed, he wasn't trying injure Aaron Ramsey but still, it was a potentially career ending tackle. I think he should get a nine-match ban at least.

In a separate matter, if a manager is proven to have encouraged his/her players to injure players, he or she should be fired and given a more severe (I. E. Years) ban. (Please note I am not saying Pulis did this....)
Kakshi (Chelsea) 6 years ago
Agree but I think they should take a instant replay on incident and see whether fair or not before the "eye foe an eye " thing
Jetlifari (Arsenal) 6 years ago
I think you see bone-crushing tackles more in leagues where players don't have the skill to deal with skillful play. They can't judge what they player is going to do with the ball next so they just take out the player. Obviously this is not football and players like that should be banned. Intent is irrelevant. If you can prove intent then it should be an assault case. I read about a couple of Second Division footballers being charged for assault after tackling a player with the clear intention to harm so that shouldn't be too hard to implement at this point in time.
The most unfortunate thing about this issue is that in England they encourage 'getting stuck in' so the mentality is if you don't put in a hard tackle you're not working hard enough. Which is rubbish, why must I cripple a player just to win a game? And how low can a manager be for promoting such a mentality? This should be weeded out of the game from a young age. And if you hate diving then stop promoting dirty tackling
Pragathish (AC Milan) 6 years ago
Nailed it.
Most of the people fail to understand the difference between defending and dirty tackling.
To sum it up-
What Maldini did was defending, and
What Materazzi does is dirty tackling.

Maldini probably is one of the hardest defenders to pass, but he never put in tackles like mad.
Implying that you can still defend without ditching and injuring the opponents
Blueskiesahead (Chelsea) 6 years ago
Very true. Yet even honest tackles for the ball can end with tragic concequences and that's where this debate gets much more complicated. Shawcross in his tackle that broke ramsey's leg was clearly going for the ball. Sometimes players mis-time tackles. It happens. But should a player be condemned because he was playing his hardest and happened to make one mistake which costs' another dearly? Should their be harder punishments for a mis-timed tackle that injures someone and just a mis-timed tackle? We all agree that dirty tackles should not be a part of this game, but what about the honestly mis-timed ones? Personally I feel that the same punishment should be handed out regardless of injury unless the tackle is simply being reckless in which case perhaps there should be a larger punishment
HangTime (Chelsea) 6 years ago
People say play like it's your last game. If you play like that.... That will be your last game- or another player's last game.

I hate players who play dirty like that. Just make me wish someone will be dirty against them too. Lol.... Not me though. I can't do it. Don't have the heart to end someone's playing career or or even just hurt them a lilo. I'll go in for a tackle, maybe a hard tackle, but only for the ball and with my body.

Rob12 (Manchester United) 6 years ago
I hope this isn't a topic against Shawcross as he did nothing wrong, just because Ramsey bones are weak and he can't turn with out his leg snapping
Donnchadh (Liverpool) 5 years ago
I don't think he meant it, but that comment took my iq down a few points. You can't be serious haha
Donnchadh (Liverpool) 5 years ago
Just wondering how is Aaron Ramsey recovering from this incident? Also thought some newer users might want to have their voice heard on this topic. Great stuff from Perrygarl, it's a part of the game though. It shouldn't be but it is, and there is little way to stop it, if you start banning people for a season or two, no one will tackle at all. One thing I hate to see is players like Nani and unfortunately Maxi Rodriquez rolling around on the pitch crying, just trying to buy a free kick, it's a disgrace. Especially in the light of real injuries like broken legs that happen all the time in football, the game isn't perfect never has and never will.

I think a good solution is to promote good tackling instead of just always punishing bad tackling. I guess a victory is one of the few ways to reward good tackling and defence, hard to measure tackles like you measure goals. However if the football federations start punishing people for making tackles, people will start flopping even more and it will get out of control. It is already so ridiculous Babel getting fined for the internets, Messi getting punished for telling his mom happy birthday, if the FAs start trying to stop hard challenges the game will never be the same

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