Yesterday morning there was a social media outpour, and even some death threats directed at Hector Moreno after a strong challenge resulted in promising Manchester United youngster, Luke Shaw breaking his leg. Opinions are split: A clear sending off or a strong but fair challenge?
Everyone from fans to British-biased media pundits and even former FIFA referee, Graham Poll all suggesting that it was a horrid attempt at a tackle deserving of a red card. Mind you these are claims backed by an official who attracted heavy criticism for his shocking performances at both the 2002 and 2006 orld Cups and man encountered difficulty counting to the number 3). Before you state, “he was still a FIFA approved official” – former FIFA approved referees have included a convicted drug mule. It doesn’t change the fact that Poll is incompetent.
For anyone who is yet to see the incident the link is just below.
The more I watch this, the more I have trouble understanding why people believe this to be a sending off.
Do not get me wrong – we are all incredibly sorry for Shaw and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery. More so after his struggles during his first season at Old Trafford he had started this campaign very brightly before what looks like a season-ending injury.
Everyone is quick to quote from the FIFA rulebook, citing the terms “malice”, “dangerous” or “use of excessive force”, oblivious to the fact that legislation in any setting whether it be sport or civil courts really only serves as a guideline and what really matters is how the guidelines have been interpreted in previous cases (incidents).
Just to point out; there is no way Moreno went out to cause Shaw any harm – and his reaction to the incident says it all. So the term “malice” can be disregarded immediately.
“Two-footed” is another term that is getting thrown around. Aside from the fact that it was a single footed challenge and it was the trailing leg which caused the damage (usually when you go somewhere your other leg tends to follow). But still, I can’t understand outcry. One foot or two feet has absolutely NOTHING to do with the likelihood of causing injury and physics can guarantee it to an undisputable degree. I’ve seen single footed challenges near-destroy a footballer’s careers – United fans should remember the below.
In reality, what actually determines the level of danger associated with a tackle is direction. Is the lunge made directly perpendicular to the victim (very dangerous and often malicious) or was it in front of him in his path (not dangerous at all)?
To put into context if you are standing on one leg (as you would be while taking a shot, pass etc.), the weight of body forces your foot to act like what we in the Engineering community refer to as a ‘pinned support’ and if someone slides in at that exact direction of that standing leg, that is when breaks occur. A forced is acted on a member that is near fixed to the ground and is not going to move, and it is this lack of “freedom” that sees the force act on the weakest elements (the tibia and fibula). This is what is meant by the term direction stated above. Let me try it this way: if you are trying to break a stick, it’s much harder to hold it in the air and break it by kicking it as opposed to standing it on a 45 from the ground and stepping on it.
Back to the incident: Moreno’s tackling foot is travelling near horizontal in front of the path of Shaw, landing perfectly in the direction of the shot – every television replay confirms this and the ball flies out for a corner. It is just unlucky that the trailing leg recreated the scenario mentioned above. He did not mean it, and it cant be considered reckless as it has only occurred as a side effect of the tackle itself. And what is most ironic is had Moreno went in to the tackle with two-feet landing in the same position as he did, Shaw would have been completely unharmed. Had Shaw taken the shot with his right foot instead of his left, he would have been unharmed as foot that would have received the impact would have been in the air and free to move (remember the stick mentioned earlier?) and not a single individual would have taken a second look at this incident.
It is all circumstantial. It was a series of several chance events which resulted in the final outcome in which Moreno had very little say in any of them – that is unless your of the opinion that he should have just stood there. And if you are still not convinced, notice that even his teammates, those who have more right to feel aggrieved than anyone else, who were nearest to the tackle did not even react in the slightest.
In closing; we are all very sympathetic for Luke Shaw and hope to see him back on the field soon, but this is not a definite red card by any means.