When players are guilty of making poor challenges, it is usual that opposition players react by surrounding the referee. For example, when Vincent Kompany made a rash challenge on Nani during our FA Cup clash against City last season, Wayne Rooney ran straight to referee Chris Foy.
“Funny how people think I got Kompany sent off,” Rooney said afterwards. “I’m not the referee. I didn’t give the red card. But it was a clear red card – a two-footed tackle.”
Years earlier, when Rooney was judged to have stamped on Ricardo Carvalho at the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of five Portuguese players to surround the referee. Rooney was sent off and this country claimed that Ronaldo was at fault.
“As I protested my innocence, Ronnie started waving an imaginary card around, getting in the ref’s face,” Rooney has said of the incident since. “The official pulled out the red and I was off. An early bath. Tournament over. When I walked to the tunnel, I knew I couldn’t really blame -Ronaldo for what had happened because he was trying to win the game for his country. Besides, in the first half I’d tried to get him booked for diving, so I was as bad as him really.”
Essentially, when players get sent off, whether they deserve it or not, the fans and players get pissed off and they look for someone to blame. But let’s not kid ourselves in to thinking that every time someone makes a bad challenge that players on the opposition don’t question the referee over whether they are going to book them or send them off.
Hosting such a diverse league, with players from all over the world, means that not everyone playing in the Premier League can speak English very well. So when language forms a barrier, players mimic an “imaginary card” gesture to referee. This is no different than what the English speaking players do in every single game and it probably holds less sway over the ref than someone saying “come on ref, that was reckless with two feet off the ground” or “the ball was long gone then ref, surely that’s a red?” Still, for whatever reason, people in this country go bonkers over an IMAGINARY CARD.
Ryan Giggs is one of these people. Yesterday, when David Luiz held his ankle whilst chuckling away following a challenge from Rafael, Oscar marched straight over to Howard Webb and held up an IMAGINARY CARD. Well, this sent Giggsy absolutely wild. Now, you may think that Giggs was just caught up in the heat of the moment. Despite winning a 13th title, nine more than Chelsea FC have done in their entire history, Giggs is a winner and competitive, so was pissed off that Oscar was trying to influence the ref moments after we conceded a late goal. However, it appears as though this imaginary card business is something that really grates on our veteran winger.
During the 2007 Champions League semi-final, Kaka was caught waving the imaginary card, leading Giggs to angrily confront him.
Last season, during United’s league game against Wigan, Franco Di Santo raced over to referee Phil Dowd to wave an imaginary card after Jonny Evans was guilty of a poor challenge. Dowd responded by booking both Evans and Di Santo, but that didn’t stop Giggs have a pop at Wigan’s captain, Gary Cadwell, over the incident.
Yesterday, following Oscar’s imaginary card, Giggs had to be pulled away from him, but was still chastising the Brazilian’s team mates over his actions. “Don’t wave imaginary cards,” Giggs said after the game. “We don’t do that here.”