Did Phil Dowd avoid sending off Rafael because he realised he shouldn’t have dismissed Vidic?
During Manchester United’s defeat at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea on Sunday, the wrong player was sent off…
Captain Nemanja Vidic was dismissed, much to his indignation, for fouling Eden Hazard in the middle of the pitch.
While the Serb was nowhere near the ball, and foolish for even attempting such a challenge in the middle of the park when his side was under no danger, it was by no means a dangerous tackle.
Vidic took away Hazard’s legs, but the angle of Vidic’s challenge meant all he really did was trip Chelsea’s attacker – who went to ground, but got straight back up again. It was undeniably a yellow card foul at the most.
He was visibly shocked when referee Phil Dowd pulled the red card from his pocket, and repeatedly pointed at Chelsea’s flying Belgian, as if to say, “Look – he isn’t hurt!”
But does two wrongs make a right? Not in life, and not in refereeing…
Vidic eventually left the field, and only a matter of minutes later, United should have been down to nine men, when Rafael completely lost his head, and launched into Gary Cahill with two feet raised off the ground.
The challenge was completely pointless, and showed that the Brazilian right-back was feeling angry and unfairly treated – which is always a worrying combination on a football field. The ball was innocuously on the touchline, the game was already lost, but Rafael could quite easily have broken Cahill’s ankles.
Luckily, Rafael got the ball, but he could similarly have landed on Cahill’s standing foot, which would have undoubtedly led to a very nasty injury. Although Rafael didn’t touch him, Cahill was extremely angry at the tackle, and told the fullback exactly what he thought of the ludicrous lunge in no uncertain terms.
Dowd though, produced a yellow card, which was the worst thing that could have happened. It means he saw the challenge, and somehow thought it was only worthy of a yellow – meaning the FA can no longer take action against Rafael.
It’s a clear example of a referee trying to ‘even up decisions’ during a match. The Vidic sending off was harsh, but regardless, every future tackle in a match is a separate incident, and should be treated as so.
As a result of Dowd’s guilt over the Vidic sending off, Rafael has completely got away with a challenge so stupid that it could have ended Cahill’s season, and even his chances of starting for England in next summer’s World Cup.
Referees must have the courage in their convictions to judge every challenge on its individual merits. Granted, Dowd can be forgiven the mistake in sending off Vidic, but to then only give another United player a yellow for a much worse, and far more dangerous tackle is amateur, and pretty unforgivable.