For the second time this season, Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-Min picked up a red card for violent conduct, and also for the second time this season Spurs are appealing the punishment. One day after Sonny was sent off after a VAR check for an altercation with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, the club is appealing the decision, saying that the punishment does not match the infraction.
Sonny was fouled by Rudiger in the second half of Spurs’ 2-0 home loss to the Blues, and replay appeared to show that Son extended his leg into Rudiger’s chest. Rudiger made the most of the contact, going down like he was shot. Match official Anthony Taylor initially signaled for a foul against Rudiger and a free kick to Tottenham, but VAR checked the incident and overruled Taylor’s on the pitch call, giving Son a straight red card and a three match ban for violent conduct.
Commenting on the incident, Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho — in his typically glib style — expressed hope that Son would not be “punished five times.”
“I hope Son is not punished five times. One time was the foul that Rudiger did on him. The second is to be sent off. The third would be not to play against Brighton. The fourth not to play against Norwich and the fifth not to play against Southampton.
”So I hope to be punished twice is enough, he doesn’t deserve for the third the fourth or the fifth.”
Previously, Mourinho had sarcastically suggested that Rudiger must have had broken ribs after the incident from the way he had gone down.
In November, Son was involved in a separate incident of “violent conduct” after he clipped the heels of Everton midfielder Andre Gomes, indirectly resulting in a nasty leg injury that will likely mean the end of Gomes’ season. Spurs appealed that decision, which was not reviewed by VAR, and were successful, with Son’s three-match suspension reversed. Tottenham are hoping for a similar result with this appeal, with the argument being that Son’s leg movement after the initial foul was not as bad as it looked on review.
I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on Sonny’s red card this time around. I am certainly not surprised that he received it — his extending his leg into Rudiger’s chest certainly looked deliberate, though I can also understand the club’s and many fan’s contrary view of what happened.
What concerns me more is that this is the third time in just over half a season that we’ve seen Son involved in a “red mist” style violent foul that has led to him being sent off during a match — the two incidents here and last season’s home match against Bournemouth after he shoved Jefferson Lerma to the ground after Lerma had fouled him one too many times. Whether he was justified or misunderstood or whatever is somewhat irrelevant at this point — he’s now getting a reputation for lashing out violently in certain situations, and it’s starting to get hard to justify his “nicest man in football” tag. Whether or not he gets his second straight red card revoked due to appeal, Sonny needs to sort this part of his game out ASAP.