Red Card or Not: Howard Webb and Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll red carded against Swansea

Chico Flores is a cheat and a swindler and a crybaby. Everyone knows that.

But was Howard Webb really completely wrong to show West Ham’s Andy Carroll the red card after the big oaf tangled with Flores on Saturday?

I’m not so certain.

If you take a look at this video, Carroll doesn’t look as innocent as he’s been made out to be. He’s just tossed Flores off his back; he knows exactly where the clown is. That arm is at head level, swinging in an arc, palm facing outward, defiant look on his face.

Webb is perfectly positioned and looking right at him. You can even see that he raises a finger at Carroll before Flores ever reacts.

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You don’t think there was intent there? Just a bit?

Of course there was.

The question is whether it rose to the level of straight red.

Law 12 lays out the fouls that can earn a direct free kick, including “striking or attempting to strike” (my emphasis) another player. You can get a yellow card for unsporting behavior, but a red requires “serious foul play” or “violent misconduct.” This is where Sam Allardyce’s Chico Defense comes into play.

As the story goes, Howard sees the two tangle with Chico literally all over Carroll. Carroll untangles himself and sweeps out an arm to “steady himself” (though, again, you’d have to be pretty partisan to believe there wasn’t some intent).

Chico goes down like a shot, clutching his face, and it’s “Good night, Vienna.”

If you accept that defense, it does look a bit like Chico’s theatrics turned what should have been a free kick and possibly a yellow card into a sending off.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the red was wrong, though; Webb can decide for himself what constitutes violent misconduct, and as I said, it’s hard to call Carroll ‘innocent’ here. I also can’t help but notice that Webb reacts immediately to Carroll’s thrown elbow, before he sees Flores go down. It appears he’d already decided before Flores put on his play.

With that video evidence, I think the card will stand.

As for Chico, whether Webb was right or wrong makes no difference. He’s still a cheat and his playacting makes an already hard job for the officials even harder. I wouldn’t fault them if they started ignoring his antics at this point.

Update: West Ham have until midday Tuesday, February 4, to submit their evidence to FA in their appeal. The disciplinary panel is expected to give their ruling Tuesday afternoon. It’s understood that Webb has reviewed the replay and stands by his decision.

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