Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartolomeu, has called for the penalty and red card awarded to a foul by the last man in the penalty box to be abolished. Despite Barcelona profiting from the rule in last night’s 6-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, there have been multiple calls from those in football to abolish the rule.
Speaking to Spanish television channel Movistar+, Bartolomeu deemed the punishment ‘excessive’, opining that it ruined football as a spectacle, saying “The rule of a penalty and red card should be changed for the good of the spectacle of a football game. It's an excessive double punishment.”
“It's evident that this action has marked the game today. To play a man less for 87 minutes is very complicated.”
Athletic Bilbao fell afoul of the rule last night, and all the excitement that preceeded the contest between two footballing sides fell flat, as Gorka Iraizoz was sent off for a foul on Luis Suarez in the 3rd minute of the game itself. Lionel Messi tucked the resulting penalty past substitute keeper Iago Herrerin, thus compounding the punishment for the Basque side.
However, there are those who point out that the rule is necessary as a deterrent, as otherwise all last-man defenders will foul to prevent a sure goal, if they can get away with just a penalty.
Red card and penalty decision was pivotal
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s decision to follow the footballing rule book and penalise Iraizoz for his foul was deemed game-changing by Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, who said “The incident changed the game completely and the tactical plans we had went out the window. It was a comfortable game for us but we still needed to work hard and stay in our positions.”
“It was much easier for us obviously but we still had to do our job, we were only 2-0 up at half-time. We had to finish them off after the break and we did that.”
Enrique’s opposite number, Ernesto Valverde made a similar claim, as the Bilbao manager branded the rule ‘harsh’, saying “It's excessively harsh, even though it's the rule. Being reduced to 10 men after three minutes is very difficult. It's a penalty, but it's excessive.”
“Before the penalty we had a great chance to score which we didn't take and then we were up against it. Our only option, with a man down and 90 minutes left, was to try and keep the score tight and see if we could get to the end of the game still with a chance.”