Alright, you all knew it was coming. The Gooners among us have crawled back out from under the blankets and are once again able to converse (if by converse you mean yell obscenities at Ronaldo). There is not much to say from our perspective regarding the traveshamockery at the Emirates last night. Manchester United dominated our injury-riddled squad (yes, I’m allowed to throw in the qualifying statement) and full credit to them for making it to Rome.
Everyone is, of course, conversing about the Darren Fletcher penalty and red card. And sickeningly, most people are saying that it was an undeserved card and some are even so deluded as to say that it was not a PK.
Off the Post has video of the incident, and labels that video “Harsh, very harsh” arguing that “Darren Fletcher gets his foot to the ball before making contact with Cesc Fabregas.”
Goal.com claims that “television replays seemed to indicate that Fletcher’s challenge in fact resulted in his touching the ball, making it legal.”
The Independent tell us that “Fletcher’s red card for what looked like a fair 75th-minute challenge on Cesc Fabregas is unlikely to be rescinded.”
The Telegraph (apparently run by SAF), states unequivocally that “A glory night for Manchester United was blemished when Darren Fletcher was controversially ruled out of the Champions League final after being sent off during an emphatic semi-final victory over Arsenal.”
[NOTE: All emphases are mine - I'm trying to make a point here!]
Only Graham Poll (yes, yes – he of the 3 yellow cards) got it right, noting:
“When commentators and former players say: ‘He got the ball, it can’t be a foul,’ they are wrong. Even though Fletcher got a slight touch on the ball, Rosetti felt it was impossible for the Manchester United midfielder to avoid taking his opponent in the follow-through. Therefore, he had no option but to dismiss the Scot.”
How do I know that Poll is correct? Because FIFA tells me so. On that page you will find a link to a PDF version of “The Laws of the Game.” Turn to page 33 of that PDF to sections entitled “Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct”, with subsections on “Direct Free Kick” and “Penalty Kick” and you will find:
“A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
� kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
� trips or attempts to trip an opponent
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.“
Darren Fletcher: (1) tripped his opponent; and (2) was inside his own penalty area with the ball still in play. Ergo, a PK. He was also the last defender on a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The latter, when committing a foul deemed deserving of a PK, receives a RC.
So, you think it wasn’t a PK?
LEARN THE RULES, YOU WANKER!