I watched the last third of Wolverhampton’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea — that’s in the English Premier (s0ccer) League — and would have had no problem had the center referee issued Chelsea’s Didier Drogba a red card for his actions in the 87th minute.
Drogba went beyond the touchline to receive attention from a trainer. Wolverhampton promptly turned the ball over and it came toward the touchline. Drogba jumped back onto the pitch to play a forward ball to an attacking teammate. The pass would have resulted in a clear scoring chance had the assistant referee not waved the Chelsea attacker for offside.
Drogba continued to limp around until after the final whistle when Wolverhampton captain Steven Hunt confronted him and the two had to be separated. It was a sorry episode that could have been prevented had the referee sent Drogba off for his unsporting behavior.
Instead, the referee didn’t appear to even talk to Drogba, allowing play to resume with a free kick for the Wolves.
Environmental issues (time of match, player involved, etc.) aside, this is an English Premier League match. This is the league where there should be very little “interpretation” of the Laws Of The Game.
Drogba did not ask for, nor did he receive, permission to re-enter the match. This is a clear violation of Law 3.11 — DEPARTING PLAYER MUST NOT INTERFERE WITH PLAY. “If a player had received permission to leave the field he must do so. If the player interrupts the ball as play continues, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior.”
I’m not just making that up. It’s a Law. And Drogba, the scoundrel, violated it.