Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy is the latest casualty in a new ruling on the pitch. The Football Association has lately been clamping down on players who make a big production out of being sent off the pitch and he did just that, pitching an aggressive fit at referee Jon Moss for handing him a red card during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham. He’s been charged by the FA with improper conduct and could be facing more than the automatic one match ban as a result.
He is only the last of several players who have been penalised for their vociferous run-ins with referees. Chelsea’s Diego Costa was given an additional match ban and fined £20,000 for refusing to leave the pitch after being shown a red card. Arsenal player Gabriel earned himself a £10,000 fine and a match ban for the same offense in September.
It’s not as though disagreements with referees, even heated ones, are a new phenomenon in football. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say that player-referee clashes are might be considered as much of a given in a game as yellow cards, post-goal celebrations and spitting.
Or at least, they are for now. We believe that this sudden harshness towards argumentativeness with referees could be heavily influenced by the drastic new changes afoot at FIFA. Gianni Infantino’s appointment as FIFA president was accompanied by emphatic promises to clean up the game and make football about football, not about egos. We can’t think of a more effective way of discouraging a big head than harshly remonstrating players for flying in the face of authority.
He was not the only Leicester City man to get stricken down for misconduct. The entire team has also been charged with not being able to control unruly players after Moss awarded West Ham an 83-minute penalty. Along with the misbehaving players, soaring prices at the ticket stand are certainly beginning to put a dent in the Leicester fairytale that’s been getting everyone all starry-eyed this season.
The team’s become everyone’s favourite underdog this season, soaring ahead of everyone else and coming remarkably close to securing the Premier League title in May. However, should the Foxes not maintain a tight rein on their players, we can easily how its big dreams could spiral horrendously out of control.