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Jamie Vardy may feel even worse if Leicester fail to win Premier League

Referees should make it absolutely clear to players that they will enforce the law when it comes to infringements in the penalty area

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2016, 7:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2016, 9:20pm

If the much-mooted Jamie Vardy movie by football biopic scripter Adrian Butchart gets the green light, casting editors will have their work cut out.

Trying to locate a thespian who can carry off a broad Yorkshire accent, able to portray a working-class rough diamond with twinkle toes, convicted of assault, been fitted with an electronic tag, caught on video making a racial slur and knocked into Premier League shape by Nigel Pearson (played by Vinnie Jones, surely), won’t be easy.

If not Daniel Craig (too smooth), Michael Caine (too old), Jason Statham (too chiselled) or One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson (too pretty), then who?

[Vardy] demonstrated last week against West Ham his flair for simulating a man being mown down Spaghetti Western fashion, an unconvincing dive that saw him sent off

Vardy could, of course, play himself in his tale of villain turned hero, or pending the season’s outcome, villain turned hero returned to villainhood.

He demonstrated last week against West Ham his flair for simulating a man being mown down Spaghetti Western fashion, an unconvincing dive that saw him sent off, resulting in at least a one-match ban that could cost Leicester dear.

Vardy will miss Sunday’s crucial clash against Swansea and will likely incur another match ban if not a trio for his thuggish reaction to his dismissal.

If Leicester lose their edge because of their marksman’s reckless absenteeism, then Vardy will be ultimately guilty of crashing the fairytale title race.

Many have wrongly cast referee Jon Moss as the villain of the piece at King Power Stadium. He will, though, be the bogeyman used by Leicester parents to scare their children to bed for generations to come should his nightmare policing of the 2-2 draw prove to be the pivotal moment the Foxes handed the title to Tottenham.

For Leicester, West Ham and Spurs fans, the game was a gripping, emotional roller-coaster blighted by an inconsistent ref.

Some claim the entanglement and flaying of limbs inside the penalty area add to the drama of football. But to any supporter with respect for the rules and fair play, such scenes are a turn-off, an insulting and gratuitous vandalism of the sporting spirit.

It was a relief when Moss finally started enforcing the law by awarding penalties, bookings and sending Vardy off.

Last week’s ridiculous manhandling was not unique. It merely shined much-needed attention on this universal blatant breach of the rules.

Law 12 of football is crystal clear. “Holding an opponent” and “impeding an opponent/obstructing” are included in the criteria of what constitutes a foul – and a foul inside the area is a penalty.

That could not be more self-explanatory. When playing football you must keep your hands off of your opponents. You must not pull his shirt. It’s very simple.

It’s a phoney defence to claim refs would be blowing up every five minutes and awarding penalties and red cards by the dozen if Law 12 was fully enforced.

If the players know the outcome if caught, they will refrain from openly cheating – just as speeding motorists slow down impulsively when they spot a lurking policeman

Let them. Yes, games would be disrupted for a short time – some even abandoned because of mass dismissals. But as the crackdown on tackling from behind proved, players would quickly adapt and obey.

Agreed, penalty area infringements can be hard to spot. But if the players know the outcome if caught, they will refrain from openly cheating – just as speeding motorists slow down impulsively when they spot a lurking policeman.

Premier League match officials and club captains met at the start of the season to discuss the issue and the consensus was that “six of one, and half a dozen of the other” should prevail unless a goal was prevented from being scored.

Surely it can be claimed any infringement in the penalty box prevents a goal from being scored. What was not considered among players and officials was how this policy of live-and-let-grabble would be quantified.

And what a pity they did not take into consideration the view from fans who too often feel they have paid to witness Hulk Hogan put a Half-Nelson on “Macho Man” Randy Savage in a WWE bout rather than Andy Carroll outjump Wes Morgan.

Video technology would have undoubtedly helped Moss – but refs should go into both dressing rooms before games and lay down the marker: holding or shirt pulling inside the penalty area is an offence and will be punished.

Players calculating their percentages would quickly abide when they realise the odds of getting away with cheating are stacked against them.

But it’s the referees who need to man up and act like the law enforcement officers they are meant to be.