Sadio Mane’s sending off against Manchester City had its doubters. While the foot was indeed high, many believe that Ederson went into the challenge expecting some sort of contact from the Senegalese as he had to make a challenge. What resulted was ghastly for the City keeper, as he endured cuts to the side of his face, courtesy of Mane’s boots.
This situation was eerily similar to Nani’s sending off in the Champions League Round of 16 tie between Manchester United and Real Madrid. United’s Portuguese winger Nani went into a challenge contesting a drop ball, his eyes firmly fixed on the ball. Arbeloa, Real Madrid’s right back on the night, looked to contest for the same ball, his eyes too on the ball. A coming together between two players going for the same ball is never easy in the eye, and what follows could be termed as accidental. Nani went to control the ball with his feet high, eventually driving it into Arbeloa’s torso. The referee on the night shocked the footballing world with his decision of showing Nani a straight red, for malicious intent.
Here too, Sadio went for the ball, with no intent of endangering the opponent. Ederson was brave to come out flying and try and head the ball away, but a goalkeeper should not be that far out of his box to deal with a danger. Sadio Mane has every right to contest for the ball, and that should not have been a red card. Mark Clattenburg, a veteran referee himself had his opinion on the matter.
‘No, his foot is raised to play the ball,’ Clattenburg said on Norwegian television station TV2.
‘His eyes are totally focused on the ball.
‘A free-kick and a yellow card for dangerous play.’
In Chelsea’s encounter against Arsenal. David Luiz was booked for an overhead attempt in the opposition half. He went for a dropping ball for an effort on goal, but Koscielny was there to head the ball away. In the act, David Luiz caught Koscielny in the chest and was penalized by virtue of a yellow card.
Does that mean players cannot go for overhead kicks for a high ball in the opposition penalty area?
Football has, and always will be a contact sport. There are risks involved and the players are aware of the lurking dangers. Football has gone soft of late, and with the rule book becoming stricter by the minute, tackling will soon be out of the game.
Such decisions are also influenced by players taking a tumble for when there seems to be very little involved. Nonetheless, these things are bringing rapid changes in how the game is played and has a massive impact on how players approach the games. Football has been a contact sport, but we may be witnessing an alteration from the normal.