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Hector Moreno has apologised; Sorry, but that doesn’t help at all!

So, Hector Moreno has apologized for his ridiculous tackle on Luke Shaw yesterday, which saw the Manchester United left back sustaining a double fracture in his right leg, possibly a career threatening injury. But does this apology help anyone? A promising youngster, who had an injury laden first season at a massive club like United, worked his heart out during the break between seasons, in order to be perfectly ready for the upcoming season; only to see his excellent start to the season squandered due to someone else’s reckless and irresponsible actions.

One would not be thinking straight if they claim that, Moreno injured Shaw on purpose. It was pretty clear from his reaction after the challenge that he was, to a certain extent, taken aback too. However, a 27-year-old defender, who must, by now, have a good amount of experience, is least expected to get in to these kind of tackles. All Moreno had to say on Shaw’s injury was:

“I feel really sorry for him and I feel really bad because I know how it’s like. This happened to me as well during the World Cup [vs Netherlands]. I want to wish him all the best, but it wasn’t my intention to injure him. I’d rather had it didn’t happen.”

First of all, the actions on the field, post the incident, could not have deemed the apology any more unapologetic. The commentators at one point were talking about Moreno’s mental state more than Shaw’s injury, but the incident did not seem to be on his mind at all, by the looks of his celebrations only a few minutes later. Yes, one should not let, what happens on the field, affect their composure and state of mind, but if he was as “sorry” as he says so, there would have been at least a hint of consideration given to what happened earlier, before celebrating with such exuberance. And of course, it wasn’t his intentions; but saying this is as good as apologizing to someone, you hit your car with, by saying that it was unintentional; its plain meaningless as the damage is already done.

The PSV Eindhoven manager, Phillip Cocu, was sorry about the incident too and claimed that all of his squad was affected by that too. Well, its easy to say than actually go through it. While referring to the genuineness of the challenge, the winning team’s manager said:

“It was not possible to see at the moment because there were a lot of players in the way. The one thing I saw was that the ball went in a different direction so he got something on the ball but I feel sorry for Luke.”

But just touching the ball in a tackle doesn’t render it genuine and legal. As per the FIFA rule book, one of the valid reasons for a sending someone off is, if any serious foul play is involved. The serious foul play as defined in the rule book (pg 63,64):

“A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play. “using excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent. Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.”

Another opinion on ways of committing a foul is:

“Two of the most common ways are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area.”

Moreno’s tackle ticked all the check-boxes for foul play and fell in the second category mentioned above, where the upper leg was responsible for causing the damage, and exactly where it says; the lower leg. The tackle was executed with force and with no consideration for it’s after effects. Even though he got to the ball first, he should have been aware of the fact that his upper leg would get in to a damaging position, if he was to go through with his tackle. These are the things that any professional player is expected, not to ignore, in the heat of action on the field, as what it invariably does is, injures either one or both the players involved in the challenge.

The furor from the United supporters was completely justified with this regards. The anger was not directed toward the deliberateness of the tackle but its carelessness. Only the all mighty would know why the referee did not see it fit to rule it a penalty and at least a caution for the player (ideally a sending off). It also felt, that the official realised their undoing at some point in the match, following which, tackles, far less dangerous were getting players booked.

One cannot blame United’s defeat, only on this incident but it was one of the most significant factors that contributed to it. The incident not only meant that United’s arguably best player this season, would be out of contention, but also had a hugely negative psychological effect on Shaw’s colleagues. The supporters sitting miles away from the game, were disturbed by the nature of the injury, much longer than the span of the game. Please spare a thought for his colleagues/friends, who he spent most of his time with. It was bound to affect them and no matter how professional these players are, something called as human emotions, almost every time, takes over the brain and its functioning in such scenarios.

So the bottom line of this being, Moreno can apologise all that he wants, but that won’t change couple of things:

  1. Shaw’s career now is under genuine threat and he my never play the same way again.
  2. It has affected the United team, not just for this one game, but for most of the season now.

It is almost a unanimous opinion, that the tackle should have resulted in a sending off, but it went unnoticed. Looking at how evident the foul play was in this case, thorough investigation needs to be done and suitable action/s should be taken against the personnel involved in the incident. This will be the only way, such incidents can be avoided in future. Unless and until the laws and their incorporation is strict, such offenses will happen every now and then. With what Shaw, United and their supporters are going through, this is the least that they can expect.

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