Why Jozo Simunovic could have been shown a red card for PSG penalty

The latest edition of Ref Review aims to clear up any uncertainty regarding the change in the 'triple punishment' or 'double jeopardy' laws which govern red card offences inside the penalty area.

Jozo Simunovic is booked after bringing down Edinson Cavani. Picture: Getty
Jozo Simunovic is booked after bringing down Edinson Cavani. Picture: Getty

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On the BT Sport broadcast of Tuesday night’s game, there seemed to be a bit of confusion regarding PSG’s penalty and whether Jozo Simunovic could have been shown a red card for hauling down Edinson Cavani.

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Analyst Chris Sutton wondered about whether the offence could be punished as such, but lead commentator Rob McLean said this was no longer the case, citing the changes in the ‘Double Jeopardy’ laws.

Picture One

It is indeed true that the rules were changed prior to the start of the 2016/17 season. If a player makes a genuine attempt to play in the ball in his own penalty box and inadvertently gives away a foul, regardless of whether it’s denying a “clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity” he shouldn’t be shown a red card. This is what McLean was referring to.

However, this change in the rule does not apply if: “the offence is holding, pulling or pushing; there’s no attempt to play or no possibility of making a challenge; or it’s an offence which is punishable by a red card, no matter where on the pitch it happens.”

As Simunovic was holding back Cavani and making no attempt to play the ball, he still could have been given a red card.

The reason he wasn’t then becomes simple - it wasn’t a clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity. Cavani was making a front post run when Simunovic hauled him down. Even if the Uruguayan was about to change direction and perceptively sprint to the back post, it’s doubtful he would have caught up with Layvin Kurzawa’s cross. As we can see from Picture One, the ball is still well above the height of Craig Gordon as it flies past the goalkeeper, and doesn’t land until it reaches the corner of the six-yard box at the opposite side.

Picture One

It wasn’t a clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity, but it was a deliberate foul. Therefore, a penalty and a yellow card was the right decision.

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