In the 16th minute of the game, Ferland Mendy was heading quickly to the Atalanta area. A pass from Vinicius into the hole made him launch the race in which he competed with Freuler to get the ball and stay alone in front of the goal. The French full-back controlled before the defender arrived from his left and fell to the ground, preventing the play from continuing after the entry of the Atalanta defender as well.
The referee Tobias Steiler did not hesitate and showed a direct red to the Bergamo defender. This was not discussed by Bastian Dankert, VAR referee this Wednesday in the Champions League match. The controversy broke out in networks and this morning it reached Italian newsstands but, Adjusting to the regulations in addition to the interpretation of the referee, the criteria on which the referee relied to leave Atalanta with one less player can be explained.
The International Board (IFAB), in charge of arbitration and the establishment and unification of rules at the international level, establishes these criteria in its regulations in the section on fouls and misconduct in which it refers to avoiding a goal or a clear chance of scoring and that mark the criteria of the card: distance between the place where the offense was committed and the goal, direction of play, probability of keeping or recovering the ball and the position and number of defenders.
What’s more, we must add one more criterion that in the arbitration world is known as the ‘DOGSO Zone’. DOGSO is the acronym for ‘Denying an Obvius Goal Scoring Opportunity’, that is, to avoid a manifest scoring opportunity, the one that the referee considered that Mendy had when he was within this imaginary zone. This area, collected by the Technical Committee of Referees of the RFEF in its circular number 3 of 17/18 as a novelty and which is still in use today, defined an imaginary conical area during the game in which if there was a clear chance of scoring inside or outside of it and there was a foul that prevented it, different penalty criteria were applied.
In this play, Mendy would be within this zone and the referee would have considered that Freuler avoided a manifest chance of scoring through a deliberate foul outside the area. That is, direct red. Applying the aforementioned criteria, Mendy would be on the edge of the area, in the central right part and even if he went out with the ball to be the way to continue his career, he indicated that he was not going to leave this area that can be seen in the graph. In addition, Freuler intervened as the last defender, which adds gravity to the matter.
In this case, many conditions were met but everything depended on Steiler’s criteria, who had to estimate in tenths of a second whether Mendy had a clear chance of scoring or not. The referee decided that if it was and so, he sent Freuler to the shower ahead of time.