What is punished elsewhere as misconduct by professionals towards referees has cult status in football and is called “emotions”. Why not keep three arm lengths away from the referee?

Football has a homicide argument for any derailment: emotions – they are essential, right? However, the simplicity of this argument exposes the fact that efforts are often made to relativize aggressive behavior – especially that towards the referee.

So: is football emotional? But of course!

Well then, keep going … – uh, stop! What about handball, basketball: no emotional sports? What about rugby, football: do athletes’ minds get less excited there? Footballers are no more emotional than other professionals, they only act “more emotionally”: more aggressively, more disrespectfully. What is punished elsewhere has cult status in football.

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In many places, however, this is no longer manageable if the “emotion” gets out of hand. Abandoned games and violent outbreaks increase in youth and amateur football. Referees go on strike – or are simply missing entirely. Who is still doing this? Unsalaried? This is one of the reasons why the top referees have tightened their rules against defiant kickers since the start of the Bundesliga second half. Problem: As soon as the first unequal treatment occurs, the resolutions fly around their ears again. Part of the problem is that the referees and their agents in the Cologne video cellar recently decided a lot of strange things.

Football is a sport that is difficult to tame but also not very regulated. Where 22 people freely hunt over 7,500 square meters of terrain, without a network, throwing circle or other fixed event locations – there is always something new and unique happening. Paragraphs can only approximate this. All the more delicate is the emotions. It is precisely in the sport with the trickiest judgment that the actors are allowed to act “more emotionally” than anywhere else. It is clear that this emotionality is used tactically: to influence or intimidate the game director. In football, this type of battle ax has long been an instrument, and the more often it is used, the more a feverish fan base may feel animated to let the sow out.

Only one person per team may enter the zone

The rules of the game can only be optimized, perfection is impossible. But the excesses that the sacred emotion gives birth could be counteracted. Only the referee would need an authority that goes beyond his whistle. Those who are chased across the field by amateurs and constantly harassed by professionals have no real authority. The inhibition threshold for emotionalized actors should be raised noticeably.

So why not create a zone of respect? If the referee interrupts the game, no player may come closer than three arm lengths. Otherwise: yellow card. As for hitting the ball. Only one named person per team, such as the captain, may enter the zone. This creates clear processes. It saves the referee nerve power and could slow down hot heads: How boring is it to bark at the referee from a distance of three or four meters? Also, from a distance, all the little comments and gestures – see the yellow-red punishment of the Gladbacher Pléa recently in Leipzig – would fizzle out rather than start a fire. And what is really punishable would be clearer to see.

The great thing about such a change: It has no effect on the game. In contrast, only the good old homicide argument would speak: that such a zone of respect damages the “emotions of football”. In plain language: inflated professionals should continue to press and abuse the game master, because that’s part of the game. What if the base or the fan freak freak out? Of course, this has nothing to do with such behavior patterns – that is “reflection of our society”. We’ll talk about this homicide argument another time.

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