Red cards

There’s something about the mechanics of tackling and what makes them dangerous that I’ve wanted to write for a while. Southampton vs Burnley finally provided the perfect example.

In the modern age, we’ve grown used to the idea that studs high up on another person’s leg is dangerous. The ability for TV to go in slow-motion and freeze-frame on the point of contact — and, in more recent years, the ability for viewers to do the same — has only heightened our awareness of this.

On Saturday, a Che Adams challenged was looked over by VAR for a possible red card. It was, understandably I guess, highlighted by Burnley fans (although the replies to that tweet show a diversity of opinion).

But the freeze-frame isn’t the whole story. As soon as impact was made, Adams took his leg away, putting as little weight into the ‘follow-through’ as humanly possible. The gif of the incident, even in slight slow-mo, makes it look like little more than a tap.


In fact, if you look closely at the gif again, you can see that all of Adams’ weight gets put into his left foot as he lands on it.

He was, perhaps, clumsy to impact Mee that high up in the first place, but it was really responsible of him to avoid putting weight into the challenge.

It could have been a dangerous tackle and a red, and with some forwards maybe it would have been. The real potential leg-breakers are the ones where players — either fearing getting hurt or just being lazy and switching off — throw their weight forward into these challenges.

It takes mental and physical energy to hold back mid-action like Adams did. The correct refereeing decision was made in the match, and maybe the incident can be a lesson to other players about how to rescue situations and prevent endangering a fellow player.