Kim Little’s injury that leaves her out for at least 10 weeks is the third long term one in two match days in the FA WSL/FAWC. The referees performances are not good enough and the disciplinary process is clearly flawed with players are getting away scot-free after injuring their opponent.
First let’s look at the refereeing problem. The pattern is always the same in those games.
One and sometimes both teams are testing the referee by being very/over-physical if not brutal. The referee responds in typical fashion by showing leniency instead of strength by keeping his cards in his pockets.
Players then deduct they can do as they please and start getting more and more dangerous, taking no prisoners. Then one player gets hit and seriously injured. You can sometimes also add a bit of pushing shoving and mass brawling to that mess
The disciplinary side of the game then should come in but sometimes it does not come in at all. Nothing is given, maybe a yellow card is produced and if we are lucky a red card is shown.
Obviously, at that stage it is now too late, the damage is done. And in most cases it could have been prevented.
I watch enough women’s football games in England ( 50 per season at least) and there is a systemic problem here.
Referees don’t have the feel of the game enough to anticipate and being proactive to avoid those problems developing. It is always the same, they don’t stamp their authority early on and gradually lose control of the game. And then, it is way too late.
On Sunday, the Chelsea player had done enough stuff so many times to collect three yellow cards, before she finally injured Kim Little. An Arsenal player was also involved multiple times in pushing and shoving incident and got away with it.
The in-game management is flawed. The disciplinary decisions by the referees are not good either.
Three serious injuries resulted in one yellow card. If you look at the Laws of the games law number 12, it is quite clear what the referees decisions should be doing in those cases.
Note: I have not seen the Galton injury, so can only comment on the other ones, but people at the game mentioned the injuring players repeatedly fouling during the game. She has long history of injuring players, for example an Arsenal player while in the FA WSL and a Reading player while in FA WSL2.
So the injuries that can be avoided are not prevented, the referees do not punish the players properly according to the Laws Of The Game.
You would then hope the disciplinary committee would then do the right thing and suspend the players responsible for those injuries.
I mean the FA charges players all the time for many different types of incidents, but rarely for those ones. And indeed the two players responsible for the injuries in the Championship were not charged and started their next team’s game.
I don’t expect the Chelsea player to be charged either because she was ( wrongly imo as it was too lenient) booked during the game.
So what kind of message does the FA sends to the players and fans? Feel free to injure an opponent and you won’t be punished or barely slapped if you are unlucky.
We saw many similar cases in the men’s game, although you get the feeling that the media pressure forces the FA to take disciplinary action. And players sometimes end up with a three games ban but nothing more. Not good enough.
It is still a cheap price to pay if you have managed to put an opponent out for three months or the whole season. The only team penalized is those situations is the injured player’s team. The asset is not available, the opposition teams also benefit from it.
If you think about it, the FA WSL teams are better off playing Arsenal without Kim Little. Same for the Championship teams playing against Bees without Paula Howells.
So the disciplinary process need to be overhauled. The FA has videos of all the FA WSL/FA WC games and need to review them properly. Especially as the referees miss stuff during the game at nearly every game.
At the end of the day, it is a recurrent problem that must be tackled at every level by the referees and the FA because the players’ behaviour will not change as long as strong punishments are not given.