Bassett sending off was the moment that defined the game as Notts County were already 1-0 down and chasing the game. They made it hard for themselves to come back into the game, or maybe the referee Jane Simms did, and it ended with a 3-0 Arsenal win.
First let’s have a look at the incident video from BT Sport :
The referee has a clear unobstructed view of the incident. She sees Bassett come at full speed on Losada. She hits her and/or the ball with her left foot and then does a scissor movement with her right foot sending the Spanish player crashing on the floor.
In the context of the game where there were many fouls already signalled and players spoken to, you could think she went for the strict rule application to maintain control on the game. Many referee lose control of the game and let players rule it rather than them.
Now if we had a scale from 0 to 100 to evaluate the fouls in general where
A from 0-10 no foul
B from 10 to 50 free kick is given
C from 51 to 90 a yellow card is shown
D from 91 to 100 a red card is shown
I did not see any reaction on social media from people at the game and watching on tv that said it was case D. Some people thought it was case C, other case B and we even had a few thinking it was A.
Does it mean that people watching the game are right is saying the referee was wrong ? How did the referee end up choosing to go the extreme end of the scale by going to choice D.
I tend to moan at every game that referees in England nearly always downgrade fouls on the scale going from D to C or C to B, C to A and even sometimes from D to A, so for once it looks like an upgrade for a change.
Let’s have a look at the law 12 fouls and misconduct
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any
of the following seven 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
• jumps at an opponent
• charges an opponent
• strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
• pushes an opponent
• tackles an opponent
The important part is in bold : in a manner considered by the referee, that’s what the FA keeps telling me when I protest about poor refereeing…..
Sending off offences
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 thevicinity of the field of play and the technical area
Looking at the list Bassett can only have been sent off for serious foul play.
Now if we look at the booklet part named : interpretation of the Laws of the game and Guidelines for referees it become quite clear :
Serious foul play
A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play. A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.
Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play unless there is a clear subsequent opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player guilty of serious foul play when the ball is next out of play.
A player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off and play is restarted with a direct free kick from the position where the offence occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick (if the offence occurred
inside the offender’s penalty area).
It is obvious that Laura Bassett red card comes into the bold category, she lunges at an opponent, using both legs at full speed. Does she comes with excessive force and endangering the safety of Losada ?
The referee sees it from close range and does not have the luxury of multiple replays like all of us. She is near the players and sees Bassett’s going at full power on Losada, so she applies the rules according to law 12.
The only problem here is there should be consistency in applying the rules in those situation and as mentioned before, the English referees at any level are lenient and tend to downgrade the scale of the fouls rather than upgrade in this case.
So, it was an unusual decision but, if the other referees would follow her way and come stronger on the fouls, we might see a change in English football as technical players would be allowed to develop more. We would not hear the nonsense ” it’s a man’s game, it’s a contact sport and all the get stuck in stuff.
At the end of the day, the aim of football is to score goal and put the ball in the back of the net not to kick the opposition players. You don’t score any point by being physical in football, something that is often forgotten in British football at any level.
Was Laura Bassett wrongly sent-off ? No according to the Laws of the Game strcit application but yes according to British football traditional views.