Late in Chelsea’s 1-0 loss against Stoke, Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland tried to keep Loic Remy from scoring. Butland took to the ground to attempt to grab the ball and while he didn’t make contact with Remy, he impeding Remy’s chance at goal while in the box as the ball was clearly away from the infraction. Remy didn’t go down and attempted to score, but could not get a good shot off due to Butland impeding him. The referee did not call for a penalty and Chelsea would lose their seventh game of the season.
Unlike what many players would have done, Loic Remy didn’t go down in the box or embellish to try and win a penalty as well as a red card for Butland and instead tried to score on his own, albeit in an unlikely position. While Remy was praised by many for not embellishing, it was likely a contributing factor in referee Anthony Taylor not awarding the penalty and red. In the middle of the game, the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) even said that Remy should have had the penalty regardless and Butland should have received a straight red card.
This is something that really makes me upset about the modern game. This is why there is diving and embellishment all the time. Referees need to rule on the actual infraction of the offender and not on the reaction of the victim. Loic Remy got screwed over for doing the right thing. He could have risked getting his leg broken by dragging his feet and making contact with Butland. He could have avoided contact and just took the fall. Afterward, he would roll around and cry and act like he was going to die and would have been rewarded with a penalty and Chelsea would have likely gotten the draw. Instead, he did the right thing and try to score on his own, even after being impeded, and he was likely rewarded with a pissed off Jose Mourinho at the team hotel yelling at him to take a dive and win the penalty.
If you really want to eliminate diving and embellishment in soccer, referees need to do two things. 1) Actually give out yellow cards for people who dive. Some referees do this, some do not. The point is that this is a very inconsistently called infraction because it’s so subjective and needs to be better defined. 2) It’s time for referees to make calls based on the infraction that the offender commits and not how the victim reacts to the play. Jack Butland fouled Loic Remy. Remy could have gone down, stayed up or did a jig for all I cared. Loic Remy’s reaction to the play was irrelevent. It’s a foul, it’s a penalty and it’s a red card.
Now I am going to be fair to Anthony Taylor on the play because he is understandably in a very tough spot. If he were to blow the whistle and call for the penalty as Remy scored and then Chelsea somehow failed to convert the penalty, that would open a new can of worms. I’m sure Chelsea would have wanted Butland sent off but they would have been upset about the missed goal. That is when the advantage should be played and since Remy’s impeded shot was affected by the play, the foul should have been called after Remy took his shot. If Remy had stayed upright and gotten a clean shot off, then Taylor shouldn’t call for the penalty and that would be that.
Instead, we got what we saw Saturday. We were reminded once again as to why players dive all the time and Jose Mourinho got another example of how there is an agenda by the referees against Chelsea. I don’t agree with any of that. There is no conspiracy against Chelsea and referees are not against them. Although, for a call like this, I may be able to understand just a little bit why Jose Mourinho thinks that is the case.