Imaginary red cards — why so serious?

Away from the hotly discussed and often completely misinterpreted discussion on two-footed tackles, imaginary card waving has been hitting the headlines recently. Roberto Mancini’s actions taking the headlines on a day in which Darlington looked set to go under – something which I think says a lot about priorities these days.

We’re told that waving an imaginary yellow/red card is an abhorrent act…but why? In a country where it is completely acceptable to appeal for offside and penalty decisions it seems almost hypocritical to attach such a social stigma to a very similar action. One manager has made a trademark of chewing the ear off the fourth official, forcefully tapping his watch to indicate the amount of added time which would be beneficial to his team, but this is seen as humorous by many, with a prominent commentator even recently referring to it as ‘Fergie time’ during a match involving his team. Would this be the lead story on major news websites? Of course not – nor should it be. So what makes card waving different?

Cultural differences are often cited as the cause of aggravation, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy commenting on the matter during a press conference earlier today:

“None of us should do it. It is something I don’t like. There is a cultural difference. Roberto is in this country now.

“I don’t think anyone should do it. It is wrong. It looks bad and I’m sure if it is pointed out, Roberto won’t do it again.

“I had it with QPR a while back. I took real offence to it. [Assistant manager] Bruno Oliveira did it.

“We didn’t see eye to eye on that. Paolo Sousa was in charge and he was really apologetic and he explained that is their culture.

“But I said ‘you are in our league and our culture, don’t do it and we will get on’.”

It did not seem to be an inherently Italian action when Liverpudlian Wayne Rooney asked for the red card which sparked this month’s controversy, much in the same way diving was once vilified as a result of the number of foreign players now plying their trade in the Premier League. Of course it is right to condemn diving, but when serial thespians such as Steven Gerrard and Ashley Young are given free passes, suspicions have to be raised at how much ‘Johnny Foreigner’ is to blame.

The Italian game is extremely visual, no doubt, as the Italian people themselves are extremely animated with their movements. Passion should not be automatically viewed as disrespect, however. When you compare it to some of the aforementioned more socially acceptable actions perpetrated by leading figures in the English game, card waving isn’t really that bad – is it?



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