Jack: WBA robbed; amount of penalties awarded is alarming

Kristian Jack
11/9/2013 3:44:36 PM
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Chelsea gained one point; West Brom lost two points but the biggest loser in all was the sport.

Referee Andre Marriner's decision to award Chelsea a 94th-minute penalty on Saturday was one of the most controversial decisions the Premier League has seen in some time.

On the line was Jose Mourinho's unbeaten home league record as manager at Stamford Bridge, dating back to 2004. It appeared the streak was coming to an end until Ramires fell under a challenge by defender Steven Reid.

Check out the play and judge for yourself.

Was it a dive? No. Was it a foul? Absolutely not. Reid simply ran towards the ball and watched the Brazilian fall underneath him.

Mistakes happen, referees are only human, but what about those who do not think it was a mistake?

Mourinho, speaking after the game, said: "I am sure it was a penalty, I have watched it from different angles, no doubt that is a penalty."

It would be easy to believe this is a comment from a man, who likes the limelight, sticking up for his team.

However, if that was the case would he really go over the top in selling it as a 'no doubt' penalty?

I truly believe Mourinho, much like Marriner, believes it was a penalty and if that is the case the sport is heading down a very dangerous path.

The penalty box extends 16.5 metres (54 ft) to each side of the goal and 16.5 metres (54 ft) in front of it. Those measurements have been in place since 1901. They are not going to change anytime soon, but they certainly should.

If someone had never watched the sport, before today, and you had to explain to them what happened, the first question from them would surely be 'why is the blue team allowed a free one on one shot with no defenders in front of them when a player, nowhere near the goal, was brushed aside by a defender'.

Foul or no foul the punishment is far too harsh for the crime committed. Or, in this case, not committed.

The awarding of a penalty is a massive moment in a football match. A referee has to be absolutely convinced a foul has taken place before pointing to the spot. This is where he needs help from the sport's governing bodies and the players. The decision is so monumental he needs time to be able to make that judgment. He should also be allowed to discuss the moment with his assistants, but in a game that allows players to barrage officials with abuse that would be impossible. With the game played at a rapid pace and more and more rules put in place to help attackers and hinder defenders, the regular awarding of penalties throughout the sport globally (not just the Premier League) is a problem. And it is getting worse.

Here is a look at stats (via Opta) of the amount of penalties taken each season in the Premier League.

Season Penalties Taken Goals (pen) Success (per cent)
2013-14 25 19 76.0
2012-13 85 68 80.0
2011-12 100 72 72.0
2010-11 105 81 77.1
2009-10 111 86 77.5
2008-09 85 67 78.8
2007-08 88 68 77.3
2006-07 112 87 77.7
2005-06 76 57 75.0
2004-05 84 66 78.6
2003-04 89 69 77.5
2002-03 92 75 81.5
2001-02 73 48 65.8
2000-01 68 54 79.4
1999-00 85 65 76.5
1998-99 73 51 69.9
1997-98 72 57 79.2
1996-97 80 61 76.3
1995-96 68 53 77.9
1994-95* 97 67 69.1
1993-94* 99 81 81.8
1992-93* 92 61 66.3

*The first three seasons featured 22 PL teams and, subsequently, 462 matches played as opposed to 380 per season that take place in a 20-team league.

Let us separate the Premier League into three different sections, with seven full seasons in each.

Penalties awarded in the first seven seasons (92-93 to 98-99) - 581. An average of 83 per season.

Penalties awarded in the next seven seasons (99-00-05-06) - 567. An average of 81 per season.

Penalties awarded in last seven seasons (05-06-12-13) - 686. An average of 98 per season.

The average amount of penalties awarded in the first 14 seasons of the Premier League was 82 with no season reaching the century mark in penalties awarded, even when 82 more games were being played. In the last seven seasons there has been four seasons where penalties awarded has reached 100 or more and the average is up by 16 per season!

You don't need stats to know there are far more diving incidents and penalty appeals in the game than there once was.

Managers say the right thing about ending diving in the game but ultimately it hasn't stopped players trying to gain an advantage over their fellow professionals. That was not the case with Ramires on Saturday but what happened is a direct consequence to the ongoing pressure placed on referees.

Asking referees to make a judgment call on an accusation of intent (diving) simply gives them too much to think about. Put that next to comments by Mourinho setting the standard that the Ramires incident is a penalty and you can understand why more and more players try to win penalties.

It's an epidemic created by the modern game and it is here to stay. Get ready for the next controversial penalty decision because it is coming much quicker than it used to.

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