Sunday’s match against Everton is one to forget for numerous reasons for Tottenham Hotspur. The film for that match should be burned forever and never watched by a single person again, but that can’t happen for a few days as Spurs have revealed they plan on appealing the red card given to Heung-Min Son for his challenge that ultimately resulted in Andre Gomes’ horrific ankle injury, according to the Evening Standard.
Referee Martin Atkinson initially reached for his yellow card before switching to a straight red when he realised the severity of Gomes’ injury in the 79th-minute of Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Everton.
In a statement, the Premier League explained the change, saying: “The red card for Son was for endangering the safety of a player which happened as a consequence of his initial challenge.”
Mauricio Pochettino was unusually blunt in his post-match comments regarding the decision to send Son off as well.
The Spurs manager, was left visibly bemused when told of the League’s explanation immediately after his post-match press conference, where he described the sending off as “unbelievable” and questioned why Atkinson was not assisted by the VAR.
Poch’s comments were more directed at the continued mess that is VAR and when it should or should not be used. Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the governing body for football officials in England, admitted that VAR wasn’t used in the decision and that Atkinson had changed his mind from a yellow card to a red card when he saw the severity of the injury to Andre Gomes.
The issue here for all parties involved is that while VAR’s intended use is for “clear and obvious errors,” VAR is still relatively new to the game and has drawn its fair share of criticism in the first few months of the Premier League season. Further complicating matters is that Law 12 from FIFA doesn’t help when it comes to what is or is not proper procedure by a match official when determining a caution or sending off. Here is the official description of a “Serious foul” from Law 12:
A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play. A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play. Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play unless there is a clear subsequent opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player guilty of serious foul play when the ball is next out of play.
Here is the description of violent conduct in the same law:
A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. He is also guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person. Violent conduct may occur either on the field of play or outside its boundaries, whether the ball is in play or not.
FIFA laws are more concerned about the definition of the foul to help officials make a decision using their judgment, but to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in there about intent or result being brought in to change someone’s mind. There isn’t any information in regard to the FA or PGMOL’s breakdown as well, so the suggestion that Atkinson changing his mind isn’t allowed is conjecture.
The bottom line of the situation is this: Son’s foul was, at minimum, a yellow card offense. There is no argument there. The chain of events after the foul that resulted in the injury is going to be the crux of the argument for the appeal. I have no idea how this is going to go for the reasons above. PGMOL is going to back Atkinson but I think Spurs have a compelling argument for at least a reduction in the suspension.
Spurs are traveling to Belgrade for a mid-week match with Red Star in the Champions League but at some point, we’ll hear about the result of the appeal and see how the parties involved decide to handle it.