Last Saturday's opponents Southend United have continued to protest about what they see as an unjust decision to red card one of their players during the match at Huish Park. Central defender Sean Morrison was given his marching orders after he committed what referee David Phillips saw as a professional foul, with Glovers striker Jonathan Obika being hauled down just outside the penalty box.
Morrison, on loan from Swindon Town has today given his views to Southend's official site and has claimed referee Phillips buckled under pressure from Glovers players, also suggesting that Obika himself may have hit the deck with purpose:
"I've been given yellow cards for much worse than that and I couldn't believe it when the ref sent me off. He told me four times that it was going to be a booking but then got out a red card. Adam Barrett was there covering me so I wasn't the last man. Their player went down far too easily. I think the referee buckled under the pressure their players put on him and if the game had been played at Southend I really don't think I would have been sent off."
Morrison's defensive partner Adam Barrett has given the Southend Echo a similar story, claiming that he was covering Morrison when the foul was made:
"I was round there covering and I don’t think Sean was the last man to be honest. That decision changed everything and it was just so frustrating because we just didn’t get anything from the officials all afternoon. We came here wanting to win but as soon as Sean got sent off it was all about hanging on and unfortunately we just couldn’t quite do that in the end. You have to be careful what you say these days but these strange decisions keep on going against us and I don’t know why. It’s been difficult enough for us this year and the decisions from referees have really cost us."
What is perhaps surprising if Southend feel so strongly about the issue, is why they are not appealing against Morrison's red card, if only to save him from a one match ban this coming Saturday. Manager Steve Tilson has also agreed with his two players, yet they are willing to accept the ban.
For those who want a second look at the incident, the BBC Sport website has video highlights of the game, including the incident that led to the red card. You should note that the FIFA Laws of the Game state that the 'professional foul' is defined as "denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick".
The detailed guidance for referees given in the FIFA Handbook expands upon this law as follows:
"Referees should consider the following circumstances when deciding whether to send off a player for denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity:
• the distance between the offence and the goal
• the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
• the direction of the play
• the location and number of defenders
• the offence which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity may be an offence that incurs a direct free kick or an indirect free kick."
What the referee has to consider is if the foul was not committed, then was there "an obvious goal-scoring opportunity" or were there other scenarios, such as a defender getting a tackle in, or the ball going out for a goal kick, that could have happened instead. Note that the terms "last man" and "professional foul" do not appear in the FIFA Laws of the Game, even though they are in common usage through football pundits and the media. Judge for yourself whether the referee got it right on the BBC Sport website.
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