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Monday, 4 April 2011

Dividing Opinion: Cohen's Red Card



I don't think I have seen a decision that has so wildly divided fans of the two teams in a game involving Forest for quite a while. Chris Cohen's red card versus Leeds on Saturday has seen lines drawn in the sand and there is no crossing.

Forest fans are adamant it was a fair challenge. Leeds fans insist it was a reckless dangerous challenge, and thus back Grayson that it was indeed one step below being dragged before the Hague it was so heinous in its severity.

The one thing that doesn't divide anyone is that his decision changed the game completely. That is pretty much cemented. Had Cohen been on the pitch, Howson may not have had the time to net Leeds first, and extra body in the box to get the ball or block may have denied both Gradel goals. Before the red card the match was finely balanced.

I'm not going to point fingers here suggest that Grayson et al got Cohen sent off. If there was no challenge in the first place, with a level of ambiguity about the decision then that would be largely irrelevant. Yes the fans and Grayson reacted, but they had to react to something.

And that where the point of this lies. Interpretation. Of course the fans of each different team is going to see the incident with their own set of blinkers on. I'll admit I am convinced that was never a red, had it been a Leeds man doing that challenge at City Ground? Hell, I'd have calling for a Red too. The advantage of this being on TV is that we get to see the different angles and can clearly see that it is isn't malicious as many a challenge I have seen get away with a booking this season.

Halsey was clearly unsure, he had to consult with his nose pinching assistant to ask, it appears the Lino must have thought red. Perhaps influenced by fans behind him baying for blood? Who knows. His angle of it, would have been the complete opposite of the most-used slow mo replay, and probably would have looked more reckless though. This isn't huge game in the contexts of football in a wider sense, had it been we may have Virtual Reality angles of it done from where the Ref or Linesman was.

Its on such decisions that seasons can rise or fall. Had Cohen stayed on, there is no doubt we would have performed better in the second period. We may not have won, but I think we could have got something out of this game. Cohen is not a dirty player. He's the type of young man mothers probably dream of their daughters bringing home. Not Joey Barton. He is not a malicious player and I doubt has it in him to be so. So for all the fanfare to suggest he is from some quarters is laughable and extremely naive.

The laws of the game decree the following
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:

serious foul play
violent conduct
spitting at an opponent or any other person
denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
receiving a second caution in the same match
A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.

This incident has been labelled as serious foul play

This can be broken down from FIFA's own interpretations of the law in section 12
Careless, reckless, using excessive force
“Careless” means that the player has shown a lack of attention or
consideration when making a challenge or that he acted without precaution.
• No further disciplinary sanction is needed if a foul is judged to be careless
“Reckless” means that the player has acted with complete disregard to the
danger to, or consequences for, his opponent.
• A player who plays in a reckless manner must be cautioned
“Using excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the necessary
use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent.
• A player who uses excessive force must be sent off


Now its pretty much apparent that this is where the grey area where the doubt reigns. Was it excessive force? Or was it a just amount. My opinion is that wasn't excessive, had McCartney not gone down it wouldn't have been red. The reactions of both sides made everyone think it was worse than what it was. Cohen's left legs trailing for most of the challenge, how can that be excessive if he isn't leading with two feet? And the whole reasoning that it was 2 feet raised off the floor is laughable. Of course it was, the ball was off the floor before you even begin to debate the semantics of that conundrum. It seems the 50/50 is something that looks like it will be increasingly outlawed. If you look at the image below,who looks like they are launching a two footed dangerous lunge more? It's not Cohen.


You can't really blame Grayson or the fans for their reactions. Our fans would do the same, and Davies would undoubtedly do the same. We have seen worse behaviour from opposing managers (Phil Browns technical area invasion springs to mind) but there is this inherent need and desire to create an opposing team pariah out of any incident that does us wrong. I think most of it comes down to bad luck that the various officials views of Cohen's tackle made it look worse.From behind it is clearly isn't malicious but referees don't get the advantage of replays. That's a debate for another day. But we are appealing the decision. It should be over hauled. It won't be though, the FA will back up their man,and justice won't be done. With our parlous midfield state it could be catastrophic for the rest of April.

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