Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is it just Pardew? Or time for a change?

Alan Pardew has been given a 7 game ban and fined for headbutting David Meyler. Seems fair, but it also opens the discussion on how we can prevent another incident like this happening.

Should the benches be so close together? Should the fourth official have to act as a policeman to keep managers and substitutes apart? Should we follow the lead of other sports? Or should we write all this off as another Pardew moment?

The tradition of teams coming out of the tunnel together, opposing managers shaking hands and settling in before kick-off for been around a while, but what does it actually achieve? Managers, coaches, substitutes and pretty much anyone on the staff are sat within earshot (and touching distance) of each other and are then forced down a narrow tunnel at half-time and full-time with tempers flaring and passion boiling over.

These 40 men (22 players, 14 subs, managers, physios etc.) are usually separated by a fourth official, who frankly has the worst job in sports. He gets the injury time wrong (depending on who you ask), gets abused for decisions he didn't make and is forced to act as a policeman for grown men who just want to shout abuse at opposition players/coaches and managers.

Football is not rugby and we don't have the respect and common decency that we need, but maybe the governing bodies also need to look at the situation. Keep the benches further apart, let an official upstairs do the injury time, don't allow TV replays on the bench, and limit the staff to just substitutes, a physio and the manager.

Stadiums are not set-up like American football or baseball to have teams on the opposite sides of the pitch, but maybe they need to look at bigger distances between the technical areas, and punishments for infringements.

Pardew may not get a $100,000 fine for assaulting someone on the street, but he may have faced some jail time if it wasn't on a football field. Things that seem to pass on the soccer field trickle down to amateur football and are simply unacceptable. Passion is one thing, but violent assaults are another. How to you tell a fan not to do something so stupid if your manager is doing it?

Players and managers have to set a better example, but maybe it's time the governing bodies stepped in to take some proactive action, rather than wait for another (maybe worse) Pardew-type incident.