Playing soccer can be a gas, just make sure you don’t have it.
At a game between Chorlton Villa and Manchester FC on Sunday, a defender for the former was issued a Yellow Card after audibly passing gas while an opponent took a penalty kick.
The shot missed, but the player was awarded a second and scored.
Gas was not the only thing to get expelled as a result. Incensed by the call, the Villa goalkeeper and two other players were tossed from the game for arguing with the ref.
“The player who made the noise was booked for ungentlemanly conduct—trying to put the other player off,” said the referee, who did not wish to be named during a post-game interview with the Manchester Evening News.
I don’t mean to get cheeky, but how did the ref know it was intentional? Could he hear groans from the player leading up to the flatulent burst?Was the player’s face wracked with strain?
The thing is, when defending players are going to block a shot there’s a good chance they will be hit by the oncoming ball—that’s why they put there hands where they do. To add to that, people brace for impact by tightening up, which can result in some unexpected vapors.
True story, over the winter, I was covering and photographing an oldtimers’ hockey game from one of the teams’ benches. In between clicks from the camera, I saw the puck coming out of the corner of my eye—it hit me right in the gut. Sure enough, for a few brief moments, the bench did not smell like sweaty old men.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a natural body function, and I’m human after all. If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you feed me beans, do I not … well, you see where I’m going with this.
All jokes aside, let’s cut to the core of the matter, like a hot knife through cheese.
The ref had every right to eject players—that’s in the rulebook. But my rulebook search turned up no mention of flatulence—not that any sports’ rulebook has a code of conduct section that goes into such specifics.
Still, we must be careful of giving refs too much leeway in any competition. Becoming angry is a natural, human thing to do, but if someone attacks another as a result, it’s clearly intentional.
Let’s not assume the ref is omniscient and can judge body functions to be intentional or not, no matter how poorly timed.
If the player peed himself, would that have been a red card? (Yellow would be more fitting.)
However, according to Villa boss Ian Treadwell, the ref might have been right because it may not have been gas at all.
“My gut feeling is someone made the noise with their mouth,” he said.
It doesn’t say much for the maturity of his players, but he probably knows what he’s talking about—
he’s not just blowing hot air.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org