‘For me, no doubt’

‘For me, no doubt’
Referee Rob Dieperink sends Philippe Sandler (left) off the pitch after hands ball against Feyenoord

NOS Soccer

Was it intentional hands or not? Philippe Sandler’s red card has occupied the minds of the KNVB and NEC for some time now. After the card was previously dismissed by the disciplinary committee, the prosecutor today also caught a bone at the appeals committee.

Referee Rob Dieperink’s decision to give Sandler a red card in the cup game with Feyenoord was unjustified, so the defender will not be suspended and will be available to play next Sunday against Ajax. A decision that caused incomprehension within the refereeing corps.

“Where can I bill the kilometers?” joked NEC technical director Carlos Aalbers on Tuesday evening upon entering the KNVB main building in Zeist. Sandler and team manager Muslu Nalbantoglu were already in the lobby, trainer Rogier Meijer completed the NEC delegation moments later. For the second time in a short time they had to show up in Zeist, so there was a somewhat jolly atmosphere.

Yellow card enough

“But it is a serious matter,” said Aalbers, who defended Sandler. “We thought that with the ruling of the disciplinary committee the matter was settled. We then also discussed intentional hands or not intentional hands. We are of the opinion that Sandler did not knowingly stop that ball with his hand. A yellow card would have been enough in our eyes.”

First, back to the moment it was all about. Sandler got the ball shot against his arm from close range in the closing stages of the cup match between Feyenoord and NEC three weeks ago. According to referee Dieperink, the defender thus prevented a goal by Ezequiel Bullaude and so Sandler was red.

Watch from 6.40 the moment when Philippe Sandler got red in the cup game with Feyenoord:

“With the position of the arm, the player accepts the risk that the ball can hit the arm,” Dieperink clarified his choice of red card in a small room at the KNVB headquarters. In addition to the referee and the NEC delegation, a three-member appeals committee, a secretary, two prosecutors, three journalists and a press man took their seats there. A surreal situation when you consider that it was a single match suspension of a player from the middle of the premier league.

It is not often that the prosecutor appeals a decision of the disciplinary committee, about ten times a year. But the stakes were high, because the Sandler case can be used as an example for future situations from now on. According to Dieperink, his decision was spot on. “I have seen the footage back and it confirms the red card. For me no doubt at all.”

What does the rules of the game say?

The KNVB rules of the game state, “If a player deprives the opposing team of a goal or a clear scoring opportunity by making punishable hands, the player is removed from the field of play, regardless of the location of the foul.”

According to the prosecutor, Dieperink and many other colleagues in the refereeing corps, that rule is clear. Sandler made an unnatural movement with his arm, taking the risk of making hands. Punishable hands, therefore. That there was no intent in the game is irrelevant and not in the rules of the game.

Sandler, who re-enacted the situation in slow motion in the middle of the room, felt there was little he could do about it. “I tried to block the ball with my right ankle and that caused my arm to get loose. I even tried to pull my arm away, but it shoots from one meter. It’s hard for me to remove my arm.”

So the disciplinary committee as well as the appeals committee vindicated Sandler. A decision that will resonate for some time in Zeist. In the eyes of the referee corps, Dieperink was not to blame and the dismissal of the card only creates more confusion.

Kayleigh Williams