Ramsey injury was horrific but should not be used to outlaw tackling

March 2, 2010

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Anybody who saw the pictures of Aaron Ramsey’s shattered shin will have winced in disgust but the hysterical reaction to Ryan Shawcross’s tackle that caused it has been based on emotion rather than cold analysis.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger muttered dark thoughts about how it was “no coincidence” that Ramsey, Eduardo and Abou Diaby had all suffered terrible injuries as teams tried to kick Arsenal off the pitch.

Shawcross was sent off for the tackle and, judging by his distraught face as his left the pitch, it was probably the best decision all round.

But though the consequences were appalling, all the more so for the victim being only 19, the tackle itself did not look too bad.

Modern TV enables us to view, in super slow motion, some of the studs-up impacts that leave shins, knees and ankles bending to near-breaking point.

Shawcross’s did not look like that and initially few would have even begun to guess what damage would result.

Analysts have been quick to jump on the tackle, suggesting that it, and the injuries caused, prevail only in the hurly-burly of the Premier League, where high-speed collisions are part of the game.

Suggestions that such tackles, and by association, such injuries, do not occur in other leagues are just wrong – as anyone who has watched some of the fruitier South American contests would readily concur.

It’s true that what is considered normal in the Premier League, or British football in general, would be frowned upon in many continental leagues but that doesn’t make it wrong.

Sepp Blatter’s campaign to rid the game of tackling is something that should be opposed on every level.

The heart of football remains the contest between one player trying to do something with the ball and another trying to stop him.

The balance is gradually shifting in favour of the creator but it’s much easier to deliver a delicate turn and lay-off or a mazy dribble against players who are only allowed to run alongside you than when they are kicking lumps out of you.

George Best, Diego Maradona and Pele all regularly endured appalling treatment from players who would have been sent off five times over in the modern game.

The days of defenders getting away with smashing through the Achilles and knees of ball players are generally gone, and rightly so, but a full-blooded contest for the ball must remain part of the game.

Sometimes it will lead to injuries, sometimes because of foul play and sometimes not.

Ramsey’s leg break was horrific but unlucky. That risk has always been part of football and must remain so.

PHOTO: Stoke City’s Shawcross and Faye challenge Arsenal’s Ramsey during their English Premier League soccer match in Stoke. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis.

4 comments

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Does not make it wrong? Mitch, it is wrong, goddamn wrong.

Posted by valentinv | Report as abusive

Six of one, half a dozen of the other Mitch. While it would be absurd to ban tackling, the level of tolerance for full-blooded, two-footed tackles in the Premier League is quite simply ridiculous. So I disagree with your latter points, you would revisit them too if you fell victim to one such “awkward” or “unlucky” challenge.

Posted by Magicwand | Report as abusive

[...] Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Ramsey injury was horrific … [...]

Don’t worry Magicwand, I’ve fallen victim to and handed out plenty of both.
I’ve had my leg broken by the most innocuous of tackles and had a stud inserted in my shin that left a hole that I can still get a fruit pastel in 20 years later – and the referee waved play-on.
Shawcross’s tackle wasn’t two-footed, it wasn’t studs-up and in my opinion it wasn’t reckless or even particularly aggressive.
The consequences for Ramsey were appalling, nobody denies that, but these things happen in sport.
Did you see the pictures of British field hockey player Richard Mantell whose ankle was similarly shattered after a collision in a World Cup match this week? Both players wearing astroturf boots and neither making a tackle in the footballing sense.

Posted by pinhead | Report as abusive

“That risk has always been part of football and must remain so.”
This bit bothers me, particularly the latter half of the sentence.
“I’ve fallen victim to and handed out plenty of both.”
And this, again it’s the latter half that bothers me, although I am sorry for the ailments you’ve suffered, I have too if it makes you feel any better.
Clearly, we have very different perceptoins of what football should be. I too thought the Shawcross tackle was unlucky, but Steven Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo two years ago deserved a life ban because it was a vicious and malicious act of aggression with no intention to play the ball. And all he got was a three-match ban. It sent the wrong message across and although I am not a great admirer of Wenger’s tirades, he was perfectly right on that one.

Posted by Magicwand | Report as abusive