GRAHAM POLL: Referees must get to grips with shirt pulling in the penalty area NOW 

Graham Poll highlights the issue
Former English Premier League referee Graham Poll wrote this piece in 2016 for a major UK daily newspaper addressing shirt-pulling:

For far too long, referees have turned a blind eye to the obvious shirt-pulling —particularly at set-pieces — and as a result, player conduct has deteriorated.

This started with defensive players holding and blocking off attackers, but now both parties are guilty.

Perhaps this is the reason why referees are failing to stop this obvious offence but there really is no defence for the way the officials have allowed this to escalate to the point where actually pulling an opponent’s shirt off escapes punishment.

It’s hard to pinpoint the Premier League’s worst offenders as every team has them. [Robert] Huth is not averse to holding and blocking opponents, and Liverpool have Martin Skrtel, a serial offender.

In the Manchester derby on Sunday we saw Yaya Toure and Michael Carrick holding each other just before half-time when City wanted a penalty, but that was a case of both players being guilty.

Referee Michael Oliver waved away the appeal but when both players are fouling you must give a free-kick one way and manage the situation.

A similar thing happened at the other end of the pitch when Martin Demichelis blocked off Marcus Rashford. Oliver again gave nothing, which prompted a melee.

At least Roger East gave a penalty at Southampton when Graziano Pelle was pulled to the ground against Liverpool by Skrtel, so it
can be done.
Graham Poll
These offences are not hard to detect but when referees do give free-kicks and penalties they lack support for their actions.

Everyone in the game, including everyone in the media, must recognise the need for action and not criticise referees if they have to award several penalties in a match.

I’m hoping UEFA will highlight this when briefing teams and referees for this summer’s European Championship. A clampdown early in the group stages will have the desired effect, and the knockout stages will benefit.

The infamous incident in 2000, when Roy Keane snapped and snarled at referee Andy D’Urso for awarding Middlesbrough a penalty at Old Trafford, provoked an FA summit to demand better behaviour from players towards referees.

The only thing that will stop this shirt-pulling is action from the referees themselves.

Here at ColorFlash we would respectfully disagree slightly with that conclusion. That is not to say that Graham Poll is wrong. Absolutely not. It certainly is up to referees to stop the shirt-pulling but they need adequate assistance from technology. Unfortunately it has been demonstrated again and again that match officials are not equipped to consistently observe the extremely quick nature of the shirt-pulling offence through no fault of their own.

VAR has been a tremendous start but that is not available universally. ColorFlash is equally applicable on the local municipal pitch as it is at Wembley, Hampden or the Maracana. We can help Graham's aspiration and give every referee at every level the opportunity to stamp out shirt-pulling.

If this all makes sense to you please take a couple of minutes to look at the Home page of this website and explore a little.

Originally published at

Sometimes it's Obvious
Some Players Just Can't Help Themselves!

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