I suppose it had to happen some time. I've been watching these matches for the last four years, and until now every match has basically been good humoured ... until now.
So we have a bottom half of the table scrap between two teams, one of which has significantly fewer players in the upper half of the age bracket. The team with the larger players is using their size to advantage. Nothing wrong there, all perfectly legal. The younger team are used to this, since they are usually up against bigger stronger opponents on a weekly basis.
However, the rough-housing increases to a series of minor infringements with no sanction. Regular use of the arms to block opponents is not cautioned. When pointed out to the referee the response is "I see nothing". No linesmen are is place to point things out if the referee is blindsided because hey - this match is nothing special.
There follows, throughout the match, a continual ratcheting of the aggression levels, and a lack of adequate censure. Small issues start being replaced by more serious ones, with the referee still following a laissez-faire approach. Players start getting hurt. My own son playing in midfield, gets taken down with a late tackle - carried off the field incapacitated and the only response from the referee is to play on (with ten men) from a free kick. A couple of minutes later another player is bowled over ... and so on.
Five minutes from the end our winger is charging down the touchline when he is body-checked full force from the side, somersaulting over, cracking his shoulder - yet another player out of the game - yet again no card.
At this point the team coach has had enough and calls the team off to forfeit the match. The atmosphere is clouded to say the least, and I'm left supporting a hobbling thirteen year old on his way back to the dressing room.
The question is if you were the team coach, what would you do? Is this effectively a 'rage quit' of an unwinnable match or the only legitimate protest against a dangerous and inadequate enforcement of the rules?
Law 5 states: The Referee enforces the laws of the game.
But what if the man-in-black is not enforcing the laws of the game?
Take for example the final tipping point
'Guidelines for Referees' for Law 12 states:
- "Careless" means the player has shown a lack of consideration or attention when making a challenge
- "Reckless" means that the player has acted with complete disregard to the danger to or consequences to his opponent
- "Using excessive force" means the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent.
and continues with
It is an offence to charge an opponent (challenge for space using physical contact within playing distance of the ball)
- in a careless manner
- in a reckless manner
- using excessive force
Surely deliberately shoving an opponent out of the way and causing them injury is at least reckless?
There has to be a start to everything, so this first post is as you would expect, a chance explain what Neunzehn-eins is going to be all about. The inspiration behind the project comes from the regular post-mortem conversations between Tom and myself after every football match, which when strung together form a narrative about how to parent a football mad teenager in suburban Berlin. Hopefully you'll enjoy the ride.
I emigrated to Germany three years ago, taking the ten-year-old with me. The standard ex-pat advice to anyone trying to integrate and help their kid make friends is "Do they play sport? If so, find them a verein" - so that is what we did. Since then I've been learning all about the differences between the Bezirksliga and the Landesklasse, abseits and elfmeter and whether the kids in the E3 are likely to move up to the D1 next year. Over the last three seasons he's had plenty of successes, as well as failures, and now takes the game far too seriously in a rather German fashion
So what is the title all about? It comes from a rather one sided game last season where, though his team was sitting comfortably on a considerable lead, the opposition finally managed to break through the defence and score. Somewhat disheartened, Tom felt that his team needed a morale boost, leading to the following impassioned cry:
Komm Lübars, Neunzehn-eins ist nicht geung!
And this season he chose the new shirt number Neunzehn...