Third Yellow – Head Injury and Safety


A head injury highlights this week’s #ThirdYellow, but not because of the event that created the head injury. Let me explain, I am not going to focus on a kick to the face or a coming together of heads. I am ranting because a head injury actually changed the result of a match.

Bobby Madley’s Head Injury Blunder

Bobby Madley is one of the “young guns” in the PGMOL. He’s one of two officials actually younger than me with real Premier League experience. Generally, I think he does a good job, but this weekend he was off. When he switched off in added time, it was enough to ruin the match.

Madley started the match a little bit inconsistent. Oxlade-Chamberlain might have committed a foul, though I do not think anyone saw it that way. The ball fell to Cazorla who attempted to dribble, only for it to be called back. The Spaniard shared his annoyance and was carded for dissent. Ok, these things happen. My issue comes from the lack of consistency as Redmond commits a foul, bitches about it, then keeps bitching about it to the official… no caution for dissent. Not Madley’s best, not by a long shot.

The real issue happened late in the game. In the 90th minute, Shane Long tried to turn to the sideline to regroup for a pass or cross. He went to ground and the linesman, not even 20 feet away, said nothing. In fact, Monreal stepped on Long’s heel. These things go missed more often than some might realize. It was a foul, but it was missed, it happens.

Not even 60 seconds later, Arsenal are taking a corner and Koscielny is kicked in the face. Jose Fonte was attempting to clear the ball and his toe hit the Arsenal defender just under the right eye. As Koscielny was well bent over trying to head the ball, it’s a collision rather than a penalty, but it’s a head injury.

Arsenal have the ball after the clearance and Koscielny is still on the ground, with a head injury. The Gunners moved the ball around and drew a penalty about 20 seconds after the head injury, as Fonte grabbed hold of Giroud’s shirt and brought him down.

Fonte fouled Giroud. No question. It’s a penalty. However, it should never have been a penalty. Not because Long was fouled, but because Bobby Madley did not stop play for a head injury. As much as a referee is there to enforce the laws of football, a referee is the first in line in terms of safety. Saints fans were robbed. Their club played decent football and pressed Arsenal really well, but they went south with nothing to show for it except for a bunch of yellow cards.

Champions League Review

You likely did not notice, but three Italian referee squads all took to the field on Wednesday. Riccardo Di Fiore, Gianluca Rocchi and Paolo Tagliavento all lead matches. It’s been a while since three teams from the same country, all officiated matches in the Champions League on the same day. It is quite the endorsement of Italian officiating.

Arsenal were away in Paris with Viktor Kassai as the official. Arsenal fans have seen him five times. Arsenal lost the first three, all away. The Gunners then won the next two matches, both at home. The away team has never scored when Kassai is the official. That was until this week. Arsenal managed a draw with PSG, their first road point with the Hungarian. It was also PSG’s first draw with the referee as well.

One issue I have with officiating in the Champions League is that some referees are incapable of adapting to the standards of the clubs they are officiating. Getting a Spanish referee when England and Germany play is outrageous sometimes. In the 24th minute, Francis Coquelin extended his left leg to win the ball. In attempting to continue forward with the ball he takes out the Polish born defender, Krychowiak. These type of plays are frequent in England and even to an extent in France. Maybe it’s not as common in Hungary. It was a clean win of the ball and far from what many referees could consider a studs up challenge.

If that was the downside, now for the cliff drop, Viktor Kassai improperly sent off two players. Marco Verratti received a second yellow because Oliver Giroud tripped over the man he fouled. This was a case of a referee making a decision without seeing what happened. It was a rash decision, at a time in a match where further discipline requires absolute attention to detail. For Giroud’s part in the incident, a card was warranted, but it should not have been his second. Two minutes prior to added time, Giroud was cautioned for nothing. That wasn’t even dissent, it was a case of a referee putting himself ahead of the match. I call that being a “Martin Atkinson wannabe.”

Friday Night Football is Back

If you’re reading this blog, you love football, so you already know that there is a match on Friday night. It’s a big one as Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge. Quite the showcase match, good reason to head home from work early if you can.



About Author

Morgan Rubes

Morgan is our Arsenal contributor, the former Chairman of Arsenal Canada, and the lead writer of "The Third Yellow", the only referee blog on the internet. We look at Morgan as the villain of the show: listen and you will see why.

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