Crystal Palace have formally complained to the Premier League about what they deem to be the continued unfair roughhousing of Wilfried Zaha.
After Saturday’s win over Huddersfield, Zaha griped that things have got so bad he now thinks twice before attempting to “express himself” because it feels like he’d “have to get his leg broken” before referee’s begin to take action against the nasty defenders trying to impinge upon his greatness.
Why am I getting different treatment from other players? It is every week. I’ve tried to speak to the referees. There’s nothing I can do any more. It’s hard.
It doesn’t make you want to go on a run because someone will come through the back of you and it doesn’t allow you to express yourself. At the same time, I have to let my feet do the talking, which I did today.
According to the Telegraph, Palace have since submitted “representations” to the League authorities, asking for clarification (and not for the first time) as to why Zaha is continually subjected to such unduly violent treatment.
In fairness, Zaha is the second-most fouled player in the Premier League (behind Eden Hazard) since 2013, but there’s no distinction there between actual foul play committed about his person and the over-penalisation of strong, physical defensive play – which, as with Hazard, we’d estimate to comprise roughly 75% of the overall total.
Clubs have grumbled about unjust brutality against specific players before and nothing much ever comes of it as offering tailored levels of protection to individuals is simply not allowed.
Yes, Zaha is fouled. He’s a flair player and, as a defender, that’s a staple method of nullifying flair players: provoke them, incite them, take their head out of the game. Maybe even hurt them a little bit (with a stout tackle within the confines of the law) if you’re that way inclined. It’s a contact sport, after all.
Referee’s have a duty to protect players, but players must take responsibility for their own actions on the pitch too. You cheat, you go down easy, you bleat and whine; sometimes, just sometimes, you’re going to get your comeuppance.