Keith Hackett column: Leicester vs Arsenal ref should revisit rulebook after failing to do what counterpart got right at Man City

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There was contrasting outcomes for two players this weekend due to the inconsistent application of the laws of the game by two of our top Premier League referees.

Andre Marriner, in charge of the Manchester City vs Crystal Palace encounter, witnessed Aymeric Laporte wrestle Palace’s Wilfried Zaha to the ground in the 45th minute.

It was a clear foul and the referee – having made a mental note of the position of the offence, the movement of Zaha towards goal and that, at the time of the offence, Zaha was in control of the ball and no defenders were able to put in a challenge correctly – raised the red card and sent Laporte off for the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

This was the correct application of the law and Manchester City can have no complaints about Marriner’s decision.

However, Michael Oliver in charge of the Leicester City vs Arsenal game, witnessed an almost identical incident where Leicester City’s Johnny Evans wrestled Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the ground.

The DOGSO criteria was fulfilled and Evans should have received a red.

When I coach referees on the application of this offence, I ask them to visualise the incident and to take away the player who committed the foul in such a scenario.

Then they should ask themselves if the offended player would have gained possession of the ball and have been able to have a shot on goal.

Without question in the case of Arsenal’s Aubameyang that would have been the case.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

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Oliver should re-visit the law and improve his understanding and application of this law.


Denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity:

Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a handball offence, the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs.

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offender is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g., holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.

A player, sent-off player, substitute or substituted player who enters the field of play without the required referee’s permission and interferes with play or an opponent and denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity is guilty of a sending-off offence.

The following must be considered:

• distance between the offence and the goal
• general direction of the play
• likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
• location and number of defenders

That’s the law in part and requires the referee to be well placed and to make a considered judgement before producing the card.

More Stories Aymeric Laporte Jonny Evans keith hackett Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Wilfried Zaha


  1. The simple reality is that a PL ref has yet again been shown not to know the laws of the game. It’s obviously unacceptable that they don’t even know the basics.

    PL refereeing is corrupt as all hell. I have no idea if they’re involved in match fixing – although several seem very friendly with a few Asian ‘bookies’ – but clearly they’re running a jobs-for-the-boys crony club. None of them are qualified, they just have control of the selection process.

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