Something intriguing happened in English Soccer yesterday that I'd like to talk about.
Before we talk about the incident in question, I just want to point out that in the Premiere League, 20 teams split £2.42 billion. Not evenly, mind you, the teams at the top of the Table receive around £150 million while the teams at the bottom of the Table receive around £100 million. Which is a big deal when you're in a relegation/promotion league.
Because when you're one step below in the League Championship, you split £100 million between 24 teams. Granted you get some golden pararchute money when you're relegated, but no matter what there are big financial difference between the two leagues.
So with that in mind, yesterday third-place Leeds was playing fifth-place Aston Villa in the Championship with a return trip to the Premiere League on the line. Deep into the second half, this happened.....
At the 71:39 mark an Aston Villa player unsuccessfully tried to take out a Leeds player. The Villa player injured himself in the process. The Ref waved his hands and signaled PLAY ON.
The Ref made the right call.
As the Villa players waved their arms in the air, for whatever reason, Leeds attempted to play on. The more Leeds played on, the more Villa stood still and waved their hands in the air with an injured Jonathan Kodjia crumpled up near midfield.
The Ref made the right call to continue.
As Leeds' Mateusz Klich broke toward the goal, the Villa defense were statues. Klich received the pass in a very offsides position and scored a goal. And that's where the mayhem ensued.
The Ref made the wrong call. You can see it in the cut of the grass. You could argue that offsides is when the ball is played, not when it is received, and you'd be right. But unfortunately BOS-VAR couldn't get that screen shot.
So as soon as Klich scored, Conor Hourihane grabbed him and started the above melee. Hourihane should have been Red Carded. He was not.
The Ref made yet another wrong call.
Instead the referee was pissed that Anwar El-Ghazi used abusive language and/or was Dutch.
Either way El-Ghazi was the only one Red Carded for the scrum, despite not being in the scrum.
The Ref made a third wrong call.
Then the action turned to the benches. Aston Villa's argument was that Leeds should have played the ball out of bounds at midfield. They did not. It was not Leeds' fault that one of the Villa players took themselves out. If we were talking U-10 in North Ridgeville, fine. You don't want to leave a kid at midfield. We are talking tens of millions of dollars on the line. Leeds was well within the rules to score (well, except for the missed offsides call).
Once Aston Villa kicked off, Leeds stood down (except for one malcontent) and allowed Aston Villa to walk down the field and tie the score 1-1. After the match, Leeds Manager Marcelo Bielsa defended his decision: “We just gave the goal back. The facts are what everyone saw, and we express our interpretation of the facts by doing what we did. English football is known for sportsmanship, so I don’t have to comment on this kind of thing."
I would not have done what Bielsa did. I commend him for his sportsmanship.
If Leeds isn't promoted, will this decision cost him his job.
Is Kodjia hurt? Or "hurt."
Feasibly, Leeds and Aston Villa could meet again in the Championship Playoffs.
What happens then?