Skip to content

Graham Poll’s view of Nani’s red card highlights England, world divide

Mar 5, 2013, 6:31 PM EDT

FBL-EUR-C1-MAN UTD-REAL MADRID Getty Images

Graham Poll is one of the most famous officials in the world. Well, former officials. Nowadays he is the foremost pundit concerning refereeing, his regular columns in The Daily Mail leveraging a career that includes two World Cups, a European Championship, a UEFA Cup final, and over 1,500 matches refereed in England.

Today Poll was quick to go on record on the Nani controversy, where a red card shown to Manchester United’s winger turned today’s match at Old Trafford. Before his foul, United was up 2-1 and had firm control of their match against Real Madrid. Afterward, United gave up two quick goals and were eliminated from Champions League.

Poll’s view on the foul? Well, there are actually two:

The Portuguese winger challenged for the ball with a raised foot and only had eyes for the ball but caught Alvaro Arbeloa. It looked like dangerous play and at worst a yellow card.

Pretty clear, right? Skip down a few paragraphs and you get a more nuanced assessment:

… elite UEFA referees watching will not have been surprised at the red card but the English ones would acknowledge they would not have dismissed a player for the same offence in a Premier League game.

So by an English standard this was a foul, but per the rest of the world — or at least Europe — this was a red card?

(MORE, from Steve: “Big matches do deserve extra caution …”)

Well, yeah. That makes sense. Anybody who follows the European game closely knows of this divide, one which also manifests  in our part of the world. British soccer is far more tolerant of hard tackles and borderline challenges, whereas the continental game is  more likely to take a strict view of what does and does not constitute a dangerous play. Here in North America, where soccer culture maintains deep ties to Britian’s, our reactions often mirror the English’s, but it’s important to remember that’s not only way world soccer looks at these events.

England and Britain have one way at looking at how the game should be played. In situations like these, we’re reminded that view often deviates from how UEFA and FIFA instruct its officials:

However, I understand that the protection of players and ensuring their safety is drummed into UEFA referees at all seminars and with Pierluigi Collina, the European referees’ chief,  sitting in the stand, Cakir will have felt enormous pressure to follow those guidelines.

Emphasis mine. Poll says that calls like today’s are part of UEFA’s guidance. Yet he still calls the play “at worst a yellow card.”

Today’s game may have been in Manchester, but Turkish official Cuneyt Cakir applied the continental standard. But since that standard deviates from the one Britain’s implicitly adopted, we’re going to hear more about this one.

Latest Posts
  1. FOLLOW LIVE – Luis Suarez starts for Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in El Clasico, full lineups

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

    Barcelona B v Indonesia U19: Friendly Getty Images

    Follow El Clasico here with live updates, as Suarez starts after his four month ban is over.

  2. Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    Balotelli AP

    Will Mario Balotelli score his first Premier League goal and get Liverpool going? Watch live, here.

  3. West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City: Hammers stun reigning champs

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY

    Hammers win third-straight PL game, as City’s bad week gets worse.

  4. Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    The Baggies are two points above the drop with 9 points, while Palace’s 8 points have them slightly less safe.

  5. Watch Live: Southampton vs. Stoke City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Asmir Begovic smashes another long kick forward as the wind swirled around the Britannia Stadium. Getty Images

    Around this time last season, Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored a goal in the wind against Southampton.

  6. Now World Cup bound, USWNT can send message in CONCACAF final

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT

    Tobin Heath, Liliana Mercado AP

    Before the tournament, we asked whether they’d roar, and so far the US women have done so.

  7. Louis van Gaal hails Jose Mourinho, beams about close relationship

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    van-gaal-mourinho Getty Images

    Van Gaal: “He’s very special but he is very special for me because we’ve continued our relationship.”

  8. VIDEO: Brendan Rodgers concerned about Liverpool’s defensive issues

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT

    Just what is going wrong at the back for Liverpool? Brendan Rodgers has a theory…

  9. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 9

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:02 AM EDT

    Live Extra

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 9 live online or via the app.

  10. Mauricio Pochettino says Paulinho will stay at Spurs

    Oct 24, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    FK Partizan v Tottenham Hotspur FC - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    The midfielder is yet to make a Premier League start this season as rumors surfaced that he could return to Brazil on loan.

  11. Chicago Fire 2-1 Houston Dynamo: Stoppage-time winner caps off Chicago comeback (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Daniel Paladini, Markus Holgersson Getty Images

    Chicago ended their season with a win as Florent Sinama-Pongolle tallied in stoppage time to erase Houston’s first half lead.

  12. AT THE HALF: Houston lead Chicago 1-0 off Omar Cummings header (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Chicago Fire Getty Images

    You can watch the match live on NBCSN or online via Live Extra.

  13. Report: 76ers owner close to buying Crystal Palace

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Neil Warnock could be answering to a new boss if American billionaire Josh Harris purchases Palace.

  14. Major League Soccer suspends referee after arrest for fraud

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Chicago Fire v Colorado Rapids Getty Images

    Jose Carlos Rivero was charged with two felonies earlier this month but continued to work games for the MLS.

  15. WATCH: Red Bulls sign five-year-old with rare genetic disorder

    Oct 24, 2014, 7:27 PM EDT

    DC United v New York Red Bulls - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

    The New York Red Bulls made a young girl’s dream come true as she signed a one-day contract with her favorite team.

  16. Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Arsenal

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch the Black Cats host the Gunners at 9:45 a.m. ET online via Live Extra.

Featured video

PST Extra: Can United beat Chelsea?