There have been so much talks on the harsh red card issued to Manchester United Nani by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir on Tuesday night after the his high kick tackle on Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa
Many are of the opinion that the red card change the game as Real Madrid went on to score two goals in three minutes. Bottom line, many football pundit and fans especially Manchester United fans, feel the referee took a bad decision as Nani's eyes was on the ball and didn't even know that Arbeloa was on his way
So it brings us to the question. Was the referee spot on or not? In situation like this, what does FIFA rule says?
According to FIFA rule 12, that tackle is a straight red card offence. I know many folks will disagree with me but permit me to back my explanation with the fact on ground.
I will also give past examples on such tackles and what FIFA says concerning the tackles like that.
According to FIFA rule 12 article 26, playing in a dangerous manner is defined as any action, that while trying to play the the ball, threatens injury to an opponent, including the player himself. Therefore, the action becomes an offence only when the opponent is adversely affected
This reminds me of Italia '90 world cup final between Germany and Argentina when Argentine midfielder, Pedro Monzón had the distinction of being the first player in 14 World Cup final games to be ejected, after being shown a straight red card for a hard leg tackle on striker Jürgen Klinsmann;
It must be emphasized that FIFA had warned its officials to enforce the rules and Monzón had raised his foot during the tackle just like Nani's on tuesday night and De Jong unfortunate kick on Xabi Alonso at the world cup final in 2010 which referee Howard Webb over looked
In that same match (Italia 90 world cup finals), Gustavo Dezotti, already booked earlier, received the second yellow card of the game when he hauled down Jürgen Kohler with what the New York Times described as a "neck tackle right out of professional wrestling
The examples above were dangerous play and according to FIFA, is a straight red card.
The only reason Dezotti didn't get a straight red card was because he had a yellow card before that outrageous tackle on Kohler. If not, that was a straight red card.
We might say that Nani never intended to kick Arbeloa but the fact still remains that he made a contact and Arbeloa was injured. It was a dangerous play and according to the FIFA rule i cited above, it is a red card even if i would have given a yellow card if i was the referee.
Manchester United will feel robbed of the chance to progress in the Champions League and cite the dismissal of Nani in the 56th minute as the turning point of the game.
However, they should have had a player sent off just a few minutes after the Nani incident when a goal bound effort was blocked on the line by the arm of United full back Rafael.
Had Cuneyt Cakir merely cautioned Nani and dismissed Rafael then United fans would have felt hard done by - but not cheated as they did with the dismissal of Nani.
The Portuguese winger challenged for the ball with a raised foot and only had eyes for the ball but caught Alvaro Arbeloa. It looked like dangerous play and at worst a yellow card.
Cakir stood and waited for Nani to get up as he appeared to be injured from the challenge.
It is said that the best referees avoid surprises – this referee clearly does not agree with that and shocked the entire crowd at Old Trafford.
However, It is understood that the protection of players and ensuring their safety is drummed into UEFA referees at all seminars and with Pierluigi Collina, the European referees’ chief, sitting in the stand, Cakir will have felt enormous pressure to follow those guidelines.
Those elite UEFA referees watching will not have been surprised at the red card but the English ones would acknowledge they would not have dismissed a player for the same offence in a Premier League game.
Former United midfielder Roy Keane, analysing the incident, supported the red card and the more you watch the incident the more you can see why the Turkish referee decided that the red card was the appropriate sanction.
He said: 'I think the referee has actually made the right call. Everyone's upset about it and it's slightly unlucky, but it's dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant.
'It's dangerous play - it's a red card.
'You have to be aware of other players on the pitch. Does he think he's going to have 20 yards to himself?
'Whether it's (a brave decision) or not, it's the right decision. Whether he meant it or not doesn't matter.
'Nani's a quick boy to go down anyway. He's not the bravest player on the planet.'
Keane insisted the referee had carefully considered his decision.
He added: 'It doesn't matter if he knows there's somebody there or not, it's irrelevant. I don't think the referee actually made the decision because he waited a couple of minutes while the player was getting treatment.
'I think it might have been the assistant that made the decision, and I actually think he's made the right call.
'We always say referees are very quick to make decisions - he waited a couple of minutes.
'Any time I was sent off in my career I always thought, "Did I give the referee chance to send me off?" And if the answer is yes, then it's out of your hands.'
Keane is very spot on even if he was insulted by Mnachester United fans on twitter for stating his opinion based on what he saw and the facts available.
So, had Cakir been advised to dismiss Rafael as well, then Manchester United would have had just nine players and faced a penalty.
Cakir was having a superb game. He was almost faultless in the first half and despite the debate of the Nani red card he continued refereeing consistently through the game and would, I expect, be congratulated by UEFA on his performance.
Cakir will only have seen Nani connect with Arbeloa's ribs with the potential for devastating effect.
He went straight to red and, from there, the balance of power changed and he managed to overshadow the other controversy of the night, the exclusion of Wayne Rooney.
Sir Alex Ferguson seems to save his boldest manoeuvres for the biggest matches in Europe, and this was no exception. Even by his standards, to replace Rooney with Ryan Giggs, 40 next birthday, was a jaw-dropper.
It would be recalled that it was a home tie with Real Madrid that convinced David Beckham he was no longer wanted at Old Trafford, and Rooney may feel similarly isolated after this.
There had been rumours, whispers, prior to the game, but few trusted them. To leave Rooney out of this fixture would be a statement so emphatic the repercussions would surely stretch beyond the final whistle.
When Beckham did not make the starting line-up in 2003, his United career was as good as over.
He came on that night and scored twice, but the reality was clear. Rooney came on, too, but his wife Coleen had already given the game away expressing her astonishment on Twitter.
And then Ronaldo went on to score his eighth Uefa Champions League goal of the season against his former club and it was an emotional one for him
He celebrated the other seven, but this one was different. He remained stony-faced but must have known this day was coming. He was always going to return to haunt Manchester United in this tournament eventually.
A player of his ability simply cannot help it. Mesut Ozil played a delightful backheel to Higuain and he hit a low cross, which Ronaldo stretched for at the far post and, of course, reached.
For all the sense of injustice, the sad fact is that no United player succeeded in putting the ball in the net last night. United's lead, erased so efficiently, had come through a defensive error when the otherwise outstanding Ramos deflected Nani's cross into his own net after a disconcerting touch by Danny Welbeck.
Ronaldo said: 'It was an emotional moment. I can say only one word: unbelievable. The supporters made me feel shy, so I think in the two games I didn't play like I play all the time, at the same level.
I feel happy because Madrid are through but a bit sad because United are out.''
In summary, it was a great match and any of the side would have won but it had to be Real Madrid and the so called harsh red card wasn't a factor at all. It was spot on and it has the backing of a rule which stipulates penalty for such dangerous tackles whether intentionally done or not. And such penalty are usually an outright dismissal.
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