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