There are 18 laws in Association Football. A false statement, yes, you’ll know if there’s always been a copy in your house of Fifa’s little tome which governs what happens on a football pitch, from law one (the field of play) to law 17 (the corner kick).

But there’s an 18th, the most important, and that’s common sense.Turkish ref Cuneyt Cakir didn’t get the memo when he ruined a bloody good Champions League game last week and sent Manchester United’s Nani off.

ITV’s Roy Keane said the winger should’ve seen red ‘cos “it was dangerous”. Since “playing in a dangerous manner” in most cases means a mere indirect free kick, maybe a yellow card if there’s “an obvious risk of injury”, we’ll ignore his assessment of the rules.

But the Irish former Red said one thing sensible – Nani gave the ref a choice to send him off or not. Nani gave Cakir a choice when he attempted to control a high ball with his foot and from behind him came Real’s Alvaro Arbeloa, who rolled about like he’d been shot.

Without prejudice – I couldn’t give a toss who won – Nani’s foul wasn’t red card-worthy, despite Cakir telling the media he stands by his 56th-minute decision, saying, “The world will realise the truth over time.” Weird.

The truth is that Cakir could have sent Nani off, but only with the most extreme interpretation of the law.

Fouls have three levels.

1) Careless: Worth a free kick for “a lack of consideration when making a challenge”.

2) Reckless: Worth a yellow for “showing disregard to the danger to an opponent”.

3) Using excessive force: A send-off for “far exceeding the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent”.

Nani was the first, maybe the second (even if not aware of the player behind him). Not the third.

Cakir reached for the most extreme punishment when yellow was sufficient, changed the course of the game and got himself in the papers.

Sure, the ref’s there to enforce rules and ensure the safety of players, but their main role should be to not influence the outcome of a game and show common sense. 

Agree or disagree? Did Nani’s red card lack common sense?


What a difference a week makes

How quickly the tide turns.

Last week I wrote the Aussies were the new Brits when it came to slagging off our cricket team as Down Under fears the worst for the upcoming Ashes.

Then England rocks up in Dunedin, gets rolled for 167 runs and watch on as debutants in a team ranked above only Bangladesh looked like seasoned veterans.

Hamish Rutherford stood out especially in his first Test with an impressive 171 runs against a world class bowling line-up.

Bruce Martin, also on debut, earlier snagged a surprise four wickets with his gentle tweakers on a decent wicket. 

This showed a few things to give the Aussies, who are getting battered like an Edinburgh Mars bar in India, a bit of confidence. It showed England aren’t infallible.

They’re vulnerable in a first Test of a series. And experience counts for jack.

That might be clutching at straws, but it’s a long way from jumping out the window.


Photo: Getty