Comment: At least some good may come from Fernando Forestieri's unjust red card
It will be of no consolation to Sheffield Wednesday that some much-needed reform may come of the outrageous banning of Fernando Forestieri.
Nor that it has highlighted the often blurred line between fair criticism and abuse of match officials, a lack of respect for whom continues to blight the game.
Carlos Carvalhal’s controlled reaction to the sheer injustice of his top player’s second yellow card in the goalless draw with Championship leaders Hull, and the ridiculous reality that it could not be appealed, was a working model of what the FA’s ailing Respect campaign demanded.
Not that this will be any consolation either.
The question is, how do we stop ourselves when a referee gets it so badly wrong? Wednesday’s head coach did slightly better than me, having tweeted at the time: “Now that is what you call a shocking decision. A total nonsense!”
But this, and Robbie Fowler’s “up there with the worst I’ve seen” is, I think, acceptable criticism - even from managers.
It is opinion on a decision, not a person. Keeping it that way round, with that distinction, is the perpetual challenge facing the cultural hothouse of football.
Rookie referee Tim Robinson was castigated, and reasonably so, for not seeing that Hull centre half Michael Dawson was the culprit, for a lunge bordering on a red card offence, and not Forestieri, who was actually caught by it and could only take evasive action.
“Diving” (and yes sometimes he does go to ground too easily) was not at the races here.
Robinson will have been mortified, not least by the refusal of the authorities to allow a public apology and their inability to right the wrong under archaic disciplinary procedures.
Where we go too far is to persecute him for one mistake, albeit a glaring one, and to ignore the inevitability of human error by suggesting, as some did, that his Sussex address aligned him with promotion rivals Brighton!
How we react is a problem, whether it’s from the top downwards or the bottom upwards.
Owls legend David Hirst came to a decision, with his prodigiously talented son George, for the youngster to withdraw from grassroots football at an early age.
“The reason I sat him down and gave him the option at 11 or 12 was that Sunday morning football was becoming a disgrace,” Hirst told me this week on The Ref Show from you-are-the-ref.com.
With young George thriving in the Wednesday academy, after two goals on his England Under 17 debut, Hirst senior added; “I’ve seen some horrendous days where officials are abused and parents are fighting over a game of football; kids football, by the way!”
A sense of proportion is sorely needed. Credit to Carvalhal for somehow finding it in the most testing circumstances. That, and the likelihood of the FA revising their rules, might be the only scraps of good to come out of this - but they are vital for the game in both cases.