Cardiff City were leading 1-0, when David Marshall – about to clear his lines with a long goal kick, bounced the ball with Samuel Eto’o lurking, who then forcibly kicked it away from the Bluebird ‘keeper as it was on the upward bounce.
Marshall immediately appealed and Eto’o looked resigned to being booked -FIFA rules state the goalkeeper is still in possession at that point.
Play was allowed to continue and a dazed Marshall was left with no option but to furiously back peddle. Eden Hazard picked up the loose ball and passed it Eto’o, who standardly missed the ball after coming off second best to Cardiff City’s Gary Medel.
Hazard again picked up the loose ball and went for goal. The ball brushed over the legs of Cameroon striker Eto’o who was on the floor in an offside position with only Steven Caulker on the goal line ahead of him. David Marshall stood remonstrating for the second time in the move.
Referee Anthony Taylor gave the goal without even conferring with any of his officials, nor did any of his officials make themselves heard that the goal should not have stood.
The Bluebirds’ manager Malky MacKay enquired at half time why Taylor had let the move continue after Eto’o’s stealing of the ball from Marshall. Taylor replied he was of the opinion that Marshall had dropped the ball, which is dubious at best. Mackay later said it took great restraint on his behalf to suck it up and walk away from Taylor.
After the game, opinion seemed divided, with the old strikers union applauding the cheeky move, however as English Football League referee Matthew Phillips later explained: “The Laws of the Game clearly state that a goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball ‘while in the act of bouncing it on the ground’ Pretty clear cut basic stuff! The referee should have given an indirect free kick to Cardiff and booked Eto’o for unsporting behaviour.
“The assistant referee and the 4th official could have helped Taylor better in this situation too. The 4th official can inform the referee when he is wrong in law.
“To make matters worse as Hazard shoots, Eto’o is lying on the floor and the ball flicks off him and into the net. Eto’o’s lower leg is ahead of the second last opponent so he’s in an offside position.
“Steven Caulker was on the line, but he was the last opponent, not the second last opponent. The fact that Eto’o didn’t intentionally mean to touch it, is irrelevant, the word intent only applies for handball situations!”
Six days later and Cardiff City were to find themselves embroiled in refereeing controversy again, this time in the final minute of extra time.
The score stood at 0-0 against a Norwich team that had outplayed the Bluebirds, with only an outstanding display by their goalkeeper David Marshall saving them from a heavy defeat.
When several Norwich players went down with injuries, Marshall put the ball out for the players to receive treatment.
At the restart, Norwich’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer ignored convention to score a goal. Instead of giving the ball back to the Bluebirds, Van Wolfswinkel threw the ball to Fer, with a nod to the open goal, which was a yawning chasm as Cardiff City goalkeeper Marshall waited on the edge of his area for Van Wolfswinkel to toss the ball back to him. Fer collected the ball and placed the ball into the Cardiff City net.
Bluebird players and supporters were immediately in uproar with a large section of the Norwich supporters also joining in with the booing of Fer.
Players faced off with things starting to get very ugly, and confronted with an awkward situation, referee Michael Jones immediately ruled out the goal. An action he later justified with the tenuous excuse that the goal was annulled as he had not blown his whistle to restart the match from the throw-in.
Norwich manager boss Chris Hughton later defended Fer saying the player had simply over hit his intended back pass to Marshall. A ludicrous comment given the Cardiff City keeper couldn’t have been any further from the goal and still remained in his area.
Hughton was made to look even more foolish when Fer himself then went on record to say: “I meant to score, I wanted to win the game. In this situation I just wanted to score because it was a 0-0 draw.
“In Holland if they throw the ball away and you want to play on, you can play on. I see now that in England it’s different. Next time I’ll make sure I give the ball back to the keeper. ”
Referee Michael Jones would have been perfectly correct by the letter of the rules to allow the goal to stand – putting the ball out for an injured player to receive attention as soon as possible and the subsequent returning of the ball upon the restart of play is not in the rule book, but has been a part of the good sportsmanship of the beautiful game since its beginning.
What the two goals conceded by The Bluebirds in the same week does do, is highlight the difference in refereeing and the need for there to be more clarity as to what extent good sportsmanship should feature in the game.
Consider if Fer’s goal had been allowed to stand in the wake of the incident the week before when a foul on Marshall had been allowed to happen.
If teams start to try and win a game at all costs, it will only be a matter of time before a challenge on a goalkeeper results in a broken hand or worse. If the practice of putting the ball out becomes abandoned it will undeniably have catastrophic results, when a stricken player does not receive attention as soon as humanly possible.
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