Refs dealing too many cards
ROBIN PARKE in Birmingham
If there is a jaundiced look about the quarter-finals or later stages of Euro 96 put it down to referees and the overuse of yellow cards.
If it goes on like this, there is a real danger of UEFA partially killing off its showpiece tournament by removing key players from the best sides taking part.
Going into last night's two games a total of 38 yellow cards had been flourished and two players sent off. And we haven't seen anything resembling a dirty game.
A similar situation arose in the early stages of the last World Cup in America where stringent FIFA dictates were followed to the letter by the men in black (or grey these days) who were themselves under threat of an early flight home if they failed to obey.
Some of the FIFA dictates - the tackle from behind and the benefit going to the attacker rather than the defender - were praiseworthy and once players and referees had grown accustomed to the new laws, USA '94 sorted itself out and went on to become a memorable tournament.
Now UEFA has come down with an even heavier hand and it is unwarranted.
It seems that a player cannot be as much as touched here - a shoulder charge is out of the question - before the whistle blows. So it is not simply the yellow cards but also the unwarranted official intervention which prevents games flowing.
A large dose of commonsense and general perception is sadly needed. A good referee should be able to recognise deliberate intent to break the rules as opposed to commitment and determination. As he should be able to differentiate between some very moderate actors and players who have been deliberately felled. But that is, by and large, not happening.