Date: 7th September 2018 at 6:30pm
Written by:

The Daily Record published one of its better articles last night, one that has at least tried to get to the bottom of the SFA’s recent rash of dodgy decisions. They looked at the rule-book and what it actually says, and they came to the conclusion that the only thing that changed with regards to what’s in there is that Daryl Broadfoot claims new guidance has been issued by UEFA, guidance which, however, is not yet part of the laws of the game.

You know what people say about a verbal contract, right?

Not worth the paper it’s written on.

I have a particularly hard time with the notion that the laws of the game should be interpreted through the prism of something that’s not in the statute books.

Broadfoot said the “guidance” which was given them in the summer comes down to this; “The difference between a cautionable offence ‘reckless’ and a red card for violent conduct is disregard for an opponent’s safety versus endangering that opponent.”

When I was working in the care sector, I once got into an argument with a day-shift member who thought we folks on nights weren’t doing enough. We were told to have people up and dressed and in front of the telly before the day-shift crew arrived for work.

Since my shift finished at 8:00 am I found this more than a little suspect.

“If this is a change of policy,” I said, “I want to see the written order to that effect. With the manager’s name underneath it. Signed. And dated.”

Needless to say, I never did get such a written instruction, and so I continued to go by what was in the book in front of me, which said no such thing. The day shift continued to moan. I continued not to care; I was there to serve the clients, not to make sure they had an easy time.

The issue now boils down to what constitutes “reckless” conduct and what constitutes “violent” conduct, and that itself should be eminently straightforward, except that there’s now some sort of ludicrous “confusion” – exploitable confusion, as you can probably gather – about what the term “violent conduct” actually means.

It’s in the eye of the beholder apparently.

The SFA rule book definition of reckless is, “when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned.” And if that means nothing then the section on violent conduct means even less; “when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made”.

They are now being urged to interpret kicks as “reckless” rather than “violent.”

Elbows will be interpreted the same way.

We are the only country in Europe where a kick at an opponent, especially off the ball, would not be interpreted as violent conduct. The idea that it takes some act of absolute “brutality” before a red-card can be issued is contrary to everything we understand about football. It is a joke.

Does a player really have to break another’s leg now for the right colour of card to come out?

This is, as many of us have already said, total freedom for players to see how much they can get away with and for managers to send them out to do the opposition, safe behind these screwed up regulations. And in the absence of seeing anything written down we have no way of knowing if this is even the way it’s supposed to be.

The national sport has ceased to be football; they’ve turned it into Rollerball overnight, and the only sign that anything has changed – incredibly, or perhaps not – are Morelos, Naismith and McGregor getting away with blatant acts of neddishness.

If you didn’t know what linked them, you might even miss the implicit message in it; that message is sadly all too clear to us; this is our quest for eight-in-a-row after all. Operation: Stop The Ten is in full swing. The SFA has just licensed thuggery in the name of halting us.

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