Football GIF: Nani’s Red-Card Inducing Challenge On Alvaro Arbeloa: Was It Really Worthy Of A Sending-Off?

Alan Duffy

5th, March 2013


By Alan Duffy

Fergie was apparently too angry to do the post-match prezzer while Roy Keane thought the referee was right to send off Nani. So here’s the infamous, game-changing challenge by the Portuguese attacker on Alvaro Arbeloa. The Madrid defender’s Liverpool credentials are sure to add even more fuel to this particular fire, I imagine.

So have a gander and tell us what you think? Was it worthy of a red? Or would a yellow and a ‘stern talking-to’ have sufficed?

(GIF: 101GG)

Posted in Champions League, GIFs, Man Utd, Newsnow

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  1. […] at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. The official’s controversial decision to send Nani off for dangerous play on 56 minutes was a major turning point in a dramatic night in […]

  2. Nikola says:


  3. Saladinho says:

    That was never a red, we see these types of challenges week in week out in the PL. Nani contested the ball fairly, Arbeloa wasn’t even in his view. A great spectacle ruined

  4. Fnarf says:

    Studs chest high, hit him in the middle of the sponsor’s logo? Straight red. No question.

  5. SL says:

    It was 1000 times worse than Derrys red card at Old Trafford and I didnt hear the united players or the wino complaining about that.

    Its a red card all the time in Europe.

  6. AndyYNWA says:

    It was a red card. Dangerous play end of. I’m sure had Nani been studded like that he would still be rolling round crying now. Ferguson has zero humility or grace in defeat. Even Keano said it was a red.
    Is Jose hankering for the UTD job saying the best team lost?? I think so.

  7. Chris says:

    No chance. Wasn’t looking at the player. Common sense is a commodity under valued.

    Any referee that makes a decision based on the reaction of a player is no good for the game. He has to make his own decision. Thats when the referee fraternity will get respect back.

    BTW as a liverpool fan the cynic in me would say United got United-ed.

  8. Graham says:

    Beyond what Nani is doing — what the fucking fuck was Arbeloa doing? Trapping the ball with his bloody crotch?

    Nani was clearly going for the ball. Arbeloa jumps needlessly/awkwardly into his path. He gets grazed, rolls about for good measure. Surprised he didn’t give a peekaboo. For Nani, it was unfortunate & bad timing; an indisputable yellow. But a red card? Get fucked ref.

    Anywho, have to get off the internet now. Missus is getting concerned that I’m obsessing.

  9. Alfe Inge Haaland says:

    Roy Keane is one bitter man. It is a pity he is an ambassador for Ireland because he holds all the negative traits that Irish people are famous for and not of the positive traits Irish people are known for. He has been an absolute psychopath since 97/98 when he did his cruciate. How can he compare any of his red cards with the one shown tonight. United were unlucky. It could have gone either way. You would rather it wasn’t a red card because it would set a dangerous precedent for soccer. They could have went on to win it if they’d gone through.

  10. Paul harding says:

    Course it was a red , Nani is an excuse for a player and it says lot about the manks at the moment that that waste of air gets his game before 250k a week Shrek . If you want to see how to do a proper job on Madrid check out the real reds whipping them in anfield a few years ago. At least our European tally is safe for the foreseeable future with that bag of filth of a squad the manks have YNWA

  11. Hasselhoff says:

    Had it been the other way around and a united player was on the receiving end of the poor challenge, a red wouldn’t had been enough. He could have been killed, right Fergie?

    Weak red? Sure. But it’s up to the ref and it certainly could be a red regardless. The lack of humility in loosing makes it all up for me.

  12. Mr Sensible says:

    Terrible decision that completely changed the game.

    Interesting that the Bergkamp statue being built is based on this exact same move yet it is right never considered dangerous player or been given a red card.

    There is no force in the movement from Nani, he is trying to control the ball gently. On top of that his eye is always on the ball, he even makes contact with it before Arbeloa.

    It was a yellow at most, I just can’t think what the fuck must have been going through the refs head to be so sure it was a clear red, disgraceful, while Keane is helping his cause for being a hated figure at United, always sounds so bitter when talking about United and ready to take a swipe whenever he can, grow up you fucking twat.

    Proud of United tonight though, and the crowd were great too.

  13. Gehumbale says:

    When watching the game I thought the situation definitely deserved a yellow. The more you look at it the more justified the red card gets. Nani should never have played in the first place and I hope we get rid of him in the summer…

  14. porcelain sandwich says:

    I think if we’re going to start punishing players for trying to control any ball in the air without doing a thorough 360 degree check of the surrounding area before attempting it, then this game is going to cease being worth watching.

  15. Shrimper says:

    @graham how on earth does arbeloa do anything wrong here!? He CHESTS (nowhere near his crotch) the ball before Nani could reach it and subsequently gets a boot in the side. He won the ball in a controlled way and you ask ‘what the fucking fuck he was doing’ some people are so blinded by club loyalty it’s embarrassing. Needless? He won the ball…

    Nani was unlucky but his awareness of his surroundings was awful, people are saying hes only watching the ball but sometimes you need to know whats going on around you. It was clumsy but I don’t see why the ref has to remove him from the game, a caution would have been fine.

  16. Craig says:

    If the ref had given a yellow or not even given a card at all, nobody would have ever mentioned the incident again. Some people may be defending the referee’s decision here, but if the red hadn’t been give, then I doubt any one of them would have given it a second though. If this was a red, then Rafael deserves a penalty from Sergio Ramos.

  17. Steve McG says:

    You cannot judge the foul on just the gif. In this instance, context is everything. Watch the last 5 seconds leading up to this and you will see Nani’s foul is nothing like a ninja kick. The ball travels over his shoulder and his foot is up to control it down. Foul? Yes. But that is all.

  18. Jack says:

    “The high kick (raising the foot above waist level) is another act that may, or may not, be dangerous play. Determination must be made as to the proximity and danger to an opponent. If contact is made, and is deemed dangerous, then a red card may be brandished.”

    These are the FIFA rules. There was definitely contact (the first condition), and the referee deemed it dangerous (which it was — second condtion), and hence a red card is fully justified under FIFA rules. Referee got it as right as possible from the angle he was in. It’s a red card every day of the week unfortunately.

  19. bigdutch says:

    definitely not a red. but with all the decisions united have gotten over the years i dont mind seeing one go against them

  20. daniel4ing says:

    BBC presenters felt that it was even a foul on Nani by Arbeloa.

  21. Jarren says:

    If it was a foul, it warranted a free kick at best.

    There was no intent, no malice.

    This referee is definitely making himself a reputation.

    It’s not a good one.

  22. sloth says:

    From a neutral observer – I think it could go either way. Any time you stretch out your leg and put your studs into the chest of an opponent, you’re flirting with being sent off. Perhaps it wasn’t his intention, but he still did it. A yellow and a stern word probably could have been enough, but a red isn’t a rash overreaction either. I can’t help but feel that if it were against United but the red wasn’t given, we’d be seeing the same amount of vitriol from the fans…

    That being said, it’s a shame to ruin such a great tie – would have liked to see how this would have finished 11 v 11.

  23. Fat Nakago says:

    Red. No question about it.

    Sure if yer a ManU(re) fan yer not happy about it. But if the shoe was on the other it foot it was Chelsea v Real and it was, say, Ramires doing that. It would still be Red, and I wouldn’t be happy about it either. But Red is still a Red.

    Mentality and momentum is crucial in games like this. Maybe ManU(re) should have done as good a job of capitalizing on Ramos’ own goal, as Real did on capitalizing on Nani’s cock-up.

  24. Dont worry says:

    Shame this is what the game has come to now. If this is a sending off then whats the point of even going the ball anymore. What players should be doing is running at the oposition and dropping when they get near securing the free kick.

    Oh and how petty are some of the other PL fans here. The way you guys speak makes you look jealous, not a good look that is it?

  25. Bobbie says:

    That nani red definitely wasn’t a send off, i mean he didnt even see him… Sort of like me the other day when I ran over a midget in my car. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t see the little bastard. Oh, and Oscar pistorius.. innocent. he didnt even see who he was shooting..

  26. para says:

    yellow would have done justice, coz he had put his foot where the ball would have landed and his eyes were locked on the ball. it was not intentional, and the foot was not directed at the opponent’s chest as they both clashed whilst going for the ball.

  27. Rob says:

    Fergie didn’t turn up for the press conference, all the other premier league managers should do the same when their team gets a decision against them against Fergie’s.

  28. nlockhart says:

    It’s important to remember that the referee got one look at the incident. He saw elements in the challenge that he saw worthy of a red card, a high boot with studs up making contact another player. In his one look from one angle he would be doing a very good job if he took in the fact that Nani had his eye on the ball and the high boot may have appeared to be more vicious than it was. It was unfortunate that it ruined the game, but I don’t think the referee should be subject for any real criticism.

    It would be interesting to see if the referee stands by his decision with the benefit of replays. Seldom hear from a referee after the match though.

  29. Dave says:

    Not a sending off offence in my opinion. Thought Arbeloa made a meal of it myself but then he did used to play for Lpool so it comes natural to cheat.

  30. Adam says:

    He extended his leg after contact, that was the vindictive act. That was what the red card was for.

  31. Jonny says:

    People keep mentioning studs in the chest, his boot hit Arbeloa’s arm at best. Nani was following the path of the ball and attempted to bring it down just like we see week in week out by players like Yaya Toure, Gary Cahill, Per Mertesacker and every other long legged freak in the premier league.

    Its a well used technique and for nani to be sent off for it was harsh to say the least

  32. Alexander says:

    Not looking where you are jumping leg first is not an excuse, it makes the move even more dangerous. Definitely a red! Ferdinand was an ass with the referee at the end of the game, as was Fergie. No respect whatsoever, yet they claim its owed to the refs…

  33. Al says:

    did nobody read @Jacks comments above where he actually included the rule? I think that post makes all other arguments void, a high kick to an oponents mid section is always going to be fangerous to an opponent, intent is irrelevant, that is also in the rules

  34. Nuno says:

    Last night watching the game I didn’t think it was a red card, as Nani was only looking at the ball, but now, the more I see it, the more I remember: De Jong was also looking at the ball when he impaled Xabi Alonso in the WC final and everybody said it should be a red card. It’s dangerous play, high foot, could’ve seriously injured Arbeloa. Red card is perfectly acceptable.
    And no one can criticize Arbeloa in this play, he went for the ball, he got Nani’s studs planted HARD on his hip. Even Nani injured himself in the play so it’s only natural Arbeloa stayed down for a while.

  35. Nuno says:

    Oh, and one more thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if that clash left the studs mark on Arbeloa’s side. If the ref saw such marks, it would justify even more the red (but Jack’s comment indeed says all there is to know – the red card is perfectly justifiable)

  36. Si says:

    @Jack – you are referring to a subjective test. Therein lies the problem (not with your comment, rather the referee’s interpretation of the rules).

    No-one is arguing about the fact that the referee presumably deemed the tackle “dangerous.” The issue is whether the “reasonable football player / referee etc.” (to adapt a legal test) would similarly deem it dangerous.

    If not, the decision would appear to be incorrect.

    The contact did not appear to be “dangerous,” more “reckless” (which are not the same thing) and Arbeloa was up and about in seconds. Nani stayed down longer.

    I am a card-carrying hater of Manchester United (I live in the city and am astonished by the complete absence of fans here bar the thousands that travel up from Clapham at the weekends), however Nani was clearly going for the ball. There was no intent – dangerous or otherwise – and there is a clear deficiency in the rule that intent is not referred to. It means that an accidental breach, such as the one in question, can be punishable by the same standards attributed to an intentionally horrible challenge.

    In my opinion, the referee failed to exercise his discretion (common sense, if you will) in considering all of the variables that contributed to the “tackle” (which it was not, to start with, Nani was trying to control the ball and was not tackling anyone). This includes the fact that Nani was looking at the ball, clattered into Arbeloa accidentally and Arbeloa was walking around very quickly (after the magic sponge came out).

    However, the decision was ultimately down to him and whether we agree with it or not, it is doubtful that he will come under further scrutiny from UEFA.

    Although, by coincidence, he may not be named as a referee during the later rounds…

  37. Anonymous says:

    Darren Gibson and Carlton cole both got sent off for similar challenges in the PL a couple of months ago. I’m pretty sure most PL refs would’ve given a red card to Nani.

    I just think the United fans are absolutely amazed that a red card was given AGAINST them at OT for once. Easily a red, fuck off United.

  38. bestie says:

    Hey “anonymous” Rafeal was sent off vs Bayern in the CL league a few years ago too…perhaps you should remain anonymous.
    It is interesting to see all the venom being spewed by United-haters here though…there’s no animal more irrational than them.
    This was not a red card in a million years, but instead of going through yet another (pointless, at this time) analysis of why it wasn’t, I’ll say this: I would hate to have to play ManU in the league for the rest of this season. Fergie and the players are pissed off, and focused.
    By the way, United-haters, even City captain V Kompany tweeted “never a red card”.

  39. Dangerous Brian says:

    FIFA laws of the game 2012-2013
    Law 12 fouls and misconduct
    Sending off offences – serious foul play
    FIFA interpretation of laws of the game law 12 serious foul play

    ‘A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play.

    A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

    Any player who lunges at an opponent when challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

    Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play unless there is a clear subsequent opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player guilty of serious foul play when the ball is next out of play.

    A player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off and play restarted with a direct free kick or penalty.’ Roy Keane and the referee were both right.

    Check it for yourself at site posted below—fouls-and-misconduct.aspx

  40. Peters says:

    Fifa law 13:
    People who repost Fifa laws on websites will be subject to a Nani like kick or failing that Roy Keane reducer to the knee

    Seriously though, if this is a red then every overhead kick in a crowded penalty area warrants a card too

  41. Leoninas says:

    He landed a Leonidas spartan kick on that bastard. Good Job Nani!

  42. Ozzy says:

    If you try an overhead near a player then it is a foul… Its dangerous play. Even if its accidental, moves like that are dangerous and could potentially injure a player.

  43. Adam says:

    The question posed should be: is this even a yellow card offense? That’s a good talking point and there can be a legitimate argument for yes or no. A red card? Is that really even under debate right now? Seriously? Xabi Alonso pointed to the referees watch after the foul. His watch! He didn’t even ask for a card.

  44. Anonymous says:

    How is this any more malicious than Lopez punching Vidic straight into his face?

  45. shay says:

    Take away the teams playing, take away ucl vs. epl and just look at the challenge. Yellow yes, red no. No clear intent, likely Nani didn’t even know Arebola was right there. Ruined what was turning into a good game. Given the refs record of reds against English teams it’s not a suprise he’d give a harsh red to United. But it’s the past, on the the 20th league title and the FA cup. Roy Keane is just bitter about the way he left United. No surprise there either.

  46. Eric says:

    Why shouldn’t Nani be responsible for keeping his eyes on the ball and the other players on the pitch? Everyone keeps saying his eyes were on the ball- well in my bloody opinion that is reckless because it is reckless to be a player on the pitch and not take into account the other players on the pitch. Does anyone really think that Nani- at a Champions League Level- thought that it wouldn’t be a 50-50 ball? Did he really think there would be no Real Madrid challenger to the ball? I can see where Fergie and the United Fans are upset but as a former player you ALWAYS take into account where the other player is when going into a 50-50 ball and if you don’t it is RECKLESS and you deserve whatever the consequences of your actions are… I have never not gone into a 50-50 ball “blind” because whatever your first touch is depends on where the opponent is…

  47. Robbo says:

    It appears that a lot of people do not know the rules. Jack includes a quotation that does not appear in the current 2012/13 rules; and he also makes a flawed conclusion form his quote.

    Dangerous Brian includes a partial extract from the Interpretaion and guidance section of the rules not the rules themselves. Firstly, law 12 requires to be examined to establish the potential offences that have been committed then these should be applied to the facts/ circumstances of what actually happened. If required then the interpretation/ guidance should be used to assist with the application of the rules.

    Law 12 sets out the offences that constititute either a free/ penalty kick or an indirect free kick. It also sets out other offences that should automatically result in a yellow or red card.

    Kicking, jumping into or striking a player all result in a free kick. All these types of offences can be one of 3 types, namely careless, reckless or using excessive force. These 3 categories are defined in the interpretation section.

    The guidance expressly states that “careless” means that the pLayer has shown a lack of attention and consideration when making the challenge and results in no further action (I.e. no card and only a free kick).

    “Reckless” is defined as when a player has acted with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent. If reckless, the guidance is that the player is cautioned (I.e. yellow card).

    “Using Excessive force” is defined that a player has far exceeded the necessary use of force AND is in danger of injuring his opponent. In such circumstances the guidance is that he is sent off. For all those (like Roy Keane) that say “intent” is irrelevant, this definition clearly makes the distinction from what is reckless and when there is genuine intent behind the action.

    As nani does not appear to see his opponent until a fraction of a second before the time of impact (and when he set off for the ball there was no opposing player in the space he moved to) then it is difficult to even say he was careless. He does not appear to even be intending on making a challenge but it looks like he was attempting to “cushion” the ball with his foot to bring it down under control when the collision happened.

    If it was deemed to be careless then no caution is the guidance. To be deemed reckless would be stretching the imagination ( which would result only in yellow) and to deem what happened as using excessive force is preposterous.

    To constitute an indirect free kick then the only offence listed that could relate to the incident is that Nani played in a dangerous manner. The guidance section expressly states that playing in a dangerous manner does not involve contact (I.e. the manner is dangerous enough to threaten injury and prevents the opponent from playing through fear of injury.

    The guidance goes on to state that if there is physical contact then a free kick is awarded, therefore the rules/ guidance above would apply.

    There is further guidance under this section for disciplinary sanctions, which states that if the dangerous manner is during a “normal” challenge then the referee should NOT take any disciplinary action. If the player’s action is made with obvious injury to the opponent then the guidance is that the player is cautioned (I.e. yellow card not red).

    The only rule left which could apply to the incident relates to one of the 7 listed offences that result in a mandatory red card. (As an aside, one of the other 7 listed is using offensive, abusive or insulting language or gestures, which if applied would mean very few games ended with 22 players on the pitch).

    The offence that could potentially apply is serious foul play. The guidance notes for that offence are quoted above by Dangerous Brian. There are 3 aspects to the guidance notes. The 1st (using excessive force or brutality when challenging) is clearly not applicable, particularly when using excessive force has been expressly defined.

    The 2nd (a TACKLE that endangers the safety of an opponent) is not applicable as the Real player did not have possession of the ball (when nani went for it) and he was not making a tackle. He was attempting to control a loose ball.

    The 3rd (lunging at an opponent with 1 or 2 legs up) does not apply either. Firstly, nani’s direct route of travel was towards a space and it was his opponent that ran in front of him when he must have seen Nani coming. Whilst nani’s foot was up, it was hanging in the air to control the ball and cannot be deemed to using excessive force (see definition above). A player is allowed to use necessary force for the circumstances and there is nothing to be seen in the video that Nani has “far exceeded” any necessary force that he is allowed to use.

    Therefore by applying the actual rules and their official interpretation/ guidance, it would appear that there is no justification for a red card. The referee appears to be wrong. So does Roy Keane (even more so) given some if the nonsense he spouted (about awareness/ carelessness and dangerous play) which is in direct contradiction to the guidance notes.

    For the record, I am not pro Man Utd. My 9 years old son is football mad and I let him stay up to watch the match. Even though he does not know all the rules (like most of the population) his immediate reaction was amazement when the red card was shown. That says it all for me, it was clearly an accidental clash which, at the very very worst deserved a yellow card.

  48. bestie says:

    @dangerous Brian: a monkey can copy and paste the rule. Said monkey, however, (just like that Turkish monkey last night) can’t interpret it. “excessive force or brutality”? Seriously? Is that what Nani was doing? All he was trying to do was bring a high ball under control…..clumsily maybe, but where the hell was the excessive force or brutality? Get serious people

  49. sloth says:

    Bottom line: If you stretch out your leg and put your studs into the ribs of an opponent, you can’t complain about being sent off.

    Could a yellow have been given? Definitely yes. Could a red have been given? Also yes. The ref interpreted the rules (posted above) in a reasonable way and (gasp) it went against United.

    Moments like this are not a death sentence. Instead of rising to the occasion, Utd got butthurt and retreated into a shell until after the 2nd Madrid goal. Then they pushed back and Carrick, van Persie, Rooney, and Vidic all missed goal scoring opportunities.

  50. Pies says:

    Turkish monkey? Watch your words, Gestapo!

  51. Jamie says:

    Definitely a red. Imagine it the other way around, Ferguson would have been just as outraged if one of his players had been kicked like that and hadn’t been sent off.

  52. David says:

    Dangerous play is not a red. The key words in the rule for a red like this are ‘excessive force’ and ‘brutality’. Can anyone seriously argue that these words apply to that challenge??? The height of the foot is irrelavant.

  53. Micah says:

    Its a pity that some are saying Nani deserved a red card, FIFA rule stated that excessive force is a straight red card which was not. Arbeloa deliberately ran into Nani and deceived the armature Turkish referee who hesitated in issuing the card.
    A good referee with no bias intention can not be fooled or influence by others in taking a crucial decision.
    The referee has a record of bad officiating against English, so is not a new thing, he just succeeded in killing and interested game

  54. Jesse says:

    Okay obviously when something controversial like this occurs people need to take a neutral point of view. Now what is wrong about how people are going about this is they do not take into consideration what Arbeloa did when he went for the ball. But let’s start with Nani first, if you look at clip from a good angle of him (not one’s obscuring the ball or from Arbeloa’s angle) you will see he got there first and lifted his foot just high enough to cradle the ball and lifted his toes to cradle the ball (not his whole foot up) because if you know how to play the game you would know that a flat foot is not the best to control the ball, it is best to bring your toes up like Nani does. Now take into consideration his body position and where his eyes/head is focused; on the ball! Now let’s look at how Arbeloa came at the ball. First of all he came diagnolly/to the side of Nani where Nani more likely than not did not see him, especially if you see that his body position and focus was on the ball. Also Arbeloa comes to control it was his chest/gut where Nani is already previously controlling it with his foot before he got to the ball. Naturally if you understand physics Arbeloa’s body will collide with Nani’s foot and it will probably hurt. You see when Arbeloa came at Nani like he did he put himself at risk, more than Nani being dangerous. So let’s summarize:

    1. Nani was clearly trying to cradle the ball down in the air with his foot

    2. Nani was not being dangerous as he was going in the ball’s path and trying to bring it down, and THEN Arbeloa came in from the SIDE to try to bring the ball down with his gut, which he puts himself at risk for doing so.

    3. Nani is not even doing a high kick because he is in the air and his foot is at HIS midlevel/hip when lifted it up.

    To be fair I can see how the reff might have saw that it was a red card from a certain angle because it also happened so fast. I already see people taking stills from bad angles that don’t even show the ball and trying to flat out say Nani came in at Arbeloa, when if you really look at it enough Nani got to the ball first and then Arbeloa, which means Arbeloa put himself at risk.

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