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WC 2006: Is it ever right to take a red card?
2006-06-05 13:28
by Bob Timmermann

The "Keeping Score" feature of the New York Times is about whether a player should ever make a deliberate foul in order to get red carded.

Apparently, a study of high level matches by a USC professor, Geert Ridder, the answer is "Yes, do it if the match has gone past the 16th minute."

Several other academics have studied this issue too. The consensus seems to be: go take one for the team!

2006-06-05 14:03:48
1.   underdog
I almost got a red card in a game yesterday when on an indirect penalty shot - I was part of a "wall" - the ball caromed off my right hand. Inadvertantly I might add, as I clearly tried to get it out of the way but not fast enough. The ref gave them a direct shot but thankfully not a red car, despite the protestations of a couple of guys on the other team. I've got to learn to tie my hands behind my back on those shots, but anyway, the thought of ever trying to get a red card on purpose boggles my mind... Even though I understand the point about preventing a sure goal. Playing one down in soccer is never good, and losing a key player for the following match is never good either.
2006-06-05 14:11:06
2.   Sandus
What the study neglects is the fact that 1) playing 11 on 10 with a backup keeper is what ultimately cost Arsenal the championship, and 2) a red card also carries with it a suspension. So unless the player committing the foul is a backup, I'd rather have the 70 minutes to try to score an equalizer.

I do agree that it's okay while leading by one, but only if your team is solid enough defensively to hang on for the remainder of the match.

2006-06-05 14:17:04
3.   Kayaker7
Of course, this only highlights the fact that goals are hard to score in soccer, and denying someone a sure chance is preferable to losing a player. Make it easier to score goals, and you'll see more exciting plays, less fouls, and less catenaccio.
2006-06-05 14:20:16
4.   underdog
Yeah I also agree that the fact that it was the goalkeeper makes a big difference, as opposed to losing a replaceable right midfielder or something. Because of depth issues...
2006-06-05 14:56:53
5.   Voxter
Where's the old Corinthian spirit? To foul on purpose? Unheard of. Just not done. Is this the state of football today?

More seriously, I think that the player doing the fouling has to enter into the calculus. In the example cited, it was Arsenal's star keeper. The keeper is already possibly the most important player on the pitch; with your side at at ten men, I would argue that his importance only increases. Especially because backup keepers tend to see less time than other bench players, there tends to a larger skill dropoff between your first string keeper and your second string keeper than there would be at back or winger, for example. It sucks to give away a goal, but in this situation, I think you just have to do it and hope like hell you can strike back, because the loss of personnel shifts the odds almost prohibitively.

All of this explains why I almost put my foot through the TV when I saw the play happen.

2006-06-05 16:27:28
6.   Zak
Of course, what goes unmentioned is that the Arsenal keeper should not have been sent off in the final in the first place. The goal should have stood and Lehmann should have gotten the yellow card. Bad decision by the ref.

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