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All Things Footie | Monday, February 25 | Jordan

Punishment should fit the crime

I missed the start of the Birminham City v Arsenal match on Saturday afternoon, but when I entered the pub nearly fifteen minutes after kick-off, I was mildly chuffed when told that I'd only missed three minutes of football despite there being nine on the clock. That was until I saw Eduardo on a stretcher, and the look on the face of Gary Lewin (Arsenal physio). I heard murmurs of broken-this and shattered-that, and a red card – no replays meant I was simply left with a bemused and slightly stale taste in the mouth for the rest of the game, regardless of the result.

Now that I've seen the tackle, and many disturbing images of an unnaturally angled fibia, I don't think there's any way one could say that Martin Taylor was malicious in his intent. It was no Joey Barton/Lee Bowyer/Robbie Savage/Dietmar Hamann tackle. However, malice or not, it was an awful reckless mistake, and while we all make mistakes, we're usually punished for them in some way that fits the crime committed. There's public outcry when prisoners are released early, when loopholes are used to avoid severe punishment, and when offenders don't get their 'just desserts'.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that somebody should break Martin Taylor's leg, what I am saying though is simple – the punishment for Taylor should (but won't of course) fit the crime.

Martin Taylor should be banned from professional football for as long as Eduardo can't play for. At the very least, the FA should consider whether it can possibly hand out the same ban for a tackle that could end a player's career, and someone who pushes a ref on his arse.

The simplest punishments are often the best. It's not 'eye-for-an-eye' justice, it's a deterrent against anyone trying to 'put the wind up' opponents by recklessly flinging yourself around the park. The worst thing about Saturday's game was that even following Eduardo's horrific injury, Birmingham's players were throwing themselves into all kinds of rowdy challenges – late, mistimed, or just plain lazy – as if one broken leg wasn't enough.

Arsene Wenger may have been a little over-the-top in his criticism of Taylor, but he was absolutely right in condemning those who have advocated getting 'stuck in' to Arsenal: to wind them up , disrupt their play, and get the better of them. I'd put my life savings (a rather large, negative number) that at least ten times last week Taylor was told that he should give Arsenal players a good kick because they 'don't like it up 'em'.

It was always going to lead to this.

I'm certain that, subconsciously, referees ignore a lot of the 'routine' fouls on Arsenal players – Hleb's quick feet usually lead to him being kicked up in the air five to ten times in most Premiership games -- because all they see is the image of a fancy-dan foreigner on the receiving end of a 'good, honest, English tackle'.

If Steven Gerrard had been on the receiving end of some of the horrific tackles he's meted out in the past we'd see blanket condemnation of the 'dirty foreigner' that injured poor old 'Stevie G'. Could you imagine for a second someone daring to say that a tackle that shattered John Terry's ankle 'wasn't even a yellow card'?

Latent xenophobia is what it is, and it's ugly and embarrassing for the sport.

(1) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Blogger the saint at 2:45 AM
nice to have you back!

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