Following on from Wilfried Zaha’s dismissal for sarcastically clapping Andre Marriner during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton last week, a new debate has sparked over whether or not Ashley Barnes should have seen red after screaming abuse at an official during Burnley’s draw with Southampton.
The former Brighton striker went down under a challenge from Saints keeper Alex McCarthy inside the penalty area and incredibly saw himself cautioned for diving thanks to the decision of the linesman a matter of yards away. Whilst Barnes had every right to be frustrated with the call, what followed was undoubtedly severe enough to earn him a second yellow and an early bath, not that former referee Peter Walton saw it that way.
In midweek, Zaha got a second yellow for clapping a referee (fair enough). However, according to this ex-ref, because ‘pushun’ overcame Ashley Barnes, causing him to scream abuse in an official’s face while out of control, then it’s okay. Interesting.
— Richard Amofa (@RichardAmofa) February 2, 2019
Working for BT Sport as an “expert”, Walton put forward the case that “passion” meant that what Barnes had done was acceptable in the eyes of the referee before specifically using Zaha as an example of a situation in which a second yellow was warranted. It’s not often that I find myself agreeing with Paul Ince and Chris Sutton but in this particular instance, both men were spot on in expressing their bemusement with that opinion, quite rightly stating that Barnes should have received his marching orders.
What Walton seems to be ignoring is that Zaha’s loss of composure also came from a place of “passion” not that either act should be tolerated in the eyes of those officiating the game. To make things crystal clear for those reading, I am not for one moment suggesting that Zaha should have stayed on the pitch at St. Mary’s, just that Barnes too should have been sent off following a comparatively worse reaction to what he felt was a poor piece of refereeing.
Without that sense of consistency and clarity where are we? The referee must feel empowered to use his or her discretion up to a point but in instances such as these, the grey area feels far too wide to ensure that supporters and players feel as though they know where the line is.
If screaming abuse (so blatant Barnes mouth was fuzzed out on Match of the Day) mere inches from a linesman’s face is seen as less severe than sarcastically clapping, I fear we’ve fallen too far down the rabbit hole to ever climb out again.