Rangers are playing Malmo in the second leg of the Champions League Qualifying Third Round tie. They lost 1-0 at home so they need a win in Sweden to get to the filthy lucre that is the Champions League group stages.
Steven Whittaker is a Scottish international playing for Rangers. Around the 18th minute, with the score still 0-0, he gets fouled. It’s a bad foul in that it’s obvious and there is some intent to hurt, if not injure, him. His reaction though is absurd. Have a look:
This is an experienced player. His team desperately need a win away from home to get to the Champions League group stages. Not only is it financial heaven for clubs, it’s nirvana for players who ply their trade in less glamourous leagues like the Scottish Premier (away to Aberdeen anyone?) and he goes out of his way to piss it away for himself and his teammates.
Now the flip side of this is this is a great example of how far the tables have turned and how the reaction to bad fouls is now punished far more severely than the original foul. The best example of this is David Beckham’s red card in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina. He’s on the ground and, almost casually, throws his leg up to tap an Argentinian after having been fouled. An incredibly weak red card that he was vilified for for years.
For reference sake:
(Note how Diego Simeone drags his foot along Beckham’s ribs as he back peddles…he got a yellow)
Back to Whittaker, look at the foul. That’s a professional foul, full of intent. He’s saved from injury primarily due to the fact that neither of them are moving at much more than a crawl when it happens but it’s a foul. So is picking up the ball and hulking it at the person who fouled you. But is it really a red card? Is that the standard now for ejections? For me the original foul is far more egregious and opens the door to players to wind up opponents with fouls if they think they’re dealing with a hot head who will react. They may get a yellow for the original offense but their opponent will get a red and you’ll get to play against ten men the rest of the game.
The second half is just starting as I write this and Rangers are actually up 1-0 so Whittaker may be saved a public flogging at Ibrox when they get home if they manage to squeak through. The odds are still against though as they are looking at needing another goal in the second half and they’ll be trying to do it down a man thanks to a combination of stupidity from Whittaker and the FIFA-encouraged officiousness of game officials.