Ah, international weeks. Don’t you just love them? No, me neither. It seems to be an excuse for early summer transfer speculation, and with three months of that coming up, I have no intention of starting now.
So, to lighten up the place, I thought I’d take a look at some of the strange rules we have in our game, certainly ones I was unaware of before investigating this piece. Don’t say I never try to teach you anything…
1. Ever wonder why players never get booked twice in quick succession? For example, say one player fouls another, sufficiently badly for the referee to give him a yellow card. But before he steps in, the players square up, leading the referee to caution the victim too, for his aggressive behaviour. But why does the original offender not get carded twice, once for the foul, and once for the aggressive action that was equal to his opponent? As it turns out, players cannot be booked twice in the same incident, as the definition of a yellow card is to act as a warning as to the player’s future conduct. A referee cannot deem the player warned until he has been shown a yellow card, so cannot card him again until that act is complete (unless he does something worthy of a straight red). (The theory being a player cannot be seen to have ignored a warning if he hasn’t actually received it yet)
2. If a player commits a professional foul, or handles on the line, and knows he is about to get sent off for denying an clear goalscoring opportunity, the best thing he can do is kick the ball into the back of his own net before the referee blows his whistle. If he manages it in time, then the goal must stand as play hasn’t stopped, and the worst the referee can do is caution him for unsporting behaviour, as no goalscoring opportunity remains denied. (This is an odd one, but confirmed by Keith Hackett here)
3. If one team are awarded an indirect free kick, and someone from the other team is stopping them taking it quickly by standing two yards away, their back to the taker, then the taker is entitled to tap the free kick against the defender, and then shoot. This is in fact a valid way of taking any free kick.
4. Players can use the goalposts to their advantage (brace themselves, use as leverage or to spring off), but are forbidden from pulling themselves up on the crossbar to head the ball.
5. An indirect free kick means you cannot score direct into either goal, but oddly, you also cannot score an own goal directly from a direct free kick (although you can obviously score in the opponent’s goal). If a player boots a direct free kick into his own goal, a corner should be given.
6. If the referee forgets his whistle, he is perfectly entitled to officiate the match with a megaphone (or any other device, for that matter).
Every day’s a school day, and all that.