Every PGMOL referee wears a FIFA referee badge demonstrating that they are adherents to the laws and rules according to the international federation. By so doing, PGMOL referees are demonstrating their fidelity to the rules of association football that were first instituted by the English over 120 years ago, a code that FIFA now has the responsibility of implementing worldwide. In fact the historical role of the England in football rule-making is enshrined by their membership in the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football. While FIFA is represented on the board and holds 50% of the voting power, as a legacy of association football’s origins in the British Isles, the other organizations represented are the governing bodies of the game in the four countries of the United Kingdom.
Based on the badge, history and tradition, one would be forgiven for assuming that the PGMOL, as the top echelon refereeing body in England, would adhere as close as possible to FIFA’s rules and guidelines. It has been this blog’s position that to assume such is to make an ASS of U and ME.
The Disappearing Red Card
Unlike the vast majority of mainstream and social media covering the EPL , this blogger relies on the unbiased data to educate and inform my readers. I analyzed the publicly available data on the PL web site of red and yellow cards issued over the past 17 years and the results are very interesting.
- 1,191 yellow cards are issued per season or 1.56 per game.
- 61 red cards are issued per season or 1 every 12.5 games.
- Yellow cards issued have been in a tight range with a standard deviation of 83 or 7%. Loosely speaking we can expect between 1,274 to 1,108 cards per season.
- Red cards issued are in a wider, more random range with a standard deviation of 10 or 16%. Generally we can expect as much as 71 or as little as 51 cards per season.
The data suggests that despite clear FIFA rules and guidelines to clean up the game, especially since 1998 when tackling from behind was made illegal, and despite rules to penalize dangerous play, this is not reflected in the 17 year data on yellow or red cards issued by the PGMOL. To the contrary, yellow cards are stable while red cards are falling. The following table illustrates:
Remarkably, over the past two seasons red cards have dropped like a stone to less than 50 for the first ever time in 17 years; to 41 in 16/17 and an astonishing 39 in 17/18.
The latter two years covers the period when the PGMOL deemed the following dangerous two footed tackle by Marcus Rojo as not meriting a red card.
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