We hear it all the time from pundits on TV. When a player cynically fouls an opponent as he runs into space, “He took one for the team, there.” A knowing nod, a slight grin and a wink from Graeme Souness and Roy Keane. “It was a professional foul.” Ah, that’s all right then. So how do you describe Son Heung-min’s cynical trip on Andre Gomes that saw the Everton player career at speed into the hapless Serge Aurier and suffer an horrendous leg injury?
At first, with Gomes’s leg jutting out at right angles to the rest of his leg, referee Martin Atkinson showed a clearly distressed Son a yellow card, which he later upgraded to a red card. Son plainly did not intend to cause a devastating injury on opponent and what happened next was a rarity, a freak injury. But it still happened. He deliberately took out Gomes. Fact.
If the collision hadn’t occurred the game would have resumed with Son accepting his yellow card and the studio pundits would have returned to their “it’s part of the game” routine. “Every professional would do the same thing if it meant preventing a goal against their team.” Indeed they would – and the very same thing happens across amateur, even parks, football. I know. I’ve been there.
So, what will change? Absolutely nothing, if yesterday was anything to go by. As Gomes lay there in unimaginable pain, I thought back to the antics of his team mate Richarlison who spent the entire game diving theatrically and pretending to be injured. I thought back to a thousand other games I’ve seen live and on television where cynical defenders “took one for the team” and made a “professional foul”.
By next weekend, referees will still be dishing out yellow cards for deliberately late tackles.We can only hope that the consequences for the fouled player will not be as severe as those suffered by Andre Gomes.