Back in 2012, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero openly discussed his feeling that non-English Premier League players were treated more harshly by officials.
“Here in England, there are almost as many foreign players as English players and it’s not right that some have a privilege that others don’t,” he told SI in 2012.
“There is a little bit of privilege with players who come from that country, but that is normal.
“We just play our game, and the referee’s job is to know who is tricking him and who is not.”
We wonder what Aguero would have made of Anthony Taylor’s decision not to award Mo Salah multiple freekicks on Sunday against his old club…?
The Egyptian doesn’t get the freekicks he deserves. This is a stat and cannot be denied. He is a dribbler – someone who is constantly taking on opponents who try to stop him – but for some reason; he wins far, far less freekicks than English counterparts who operate in a similar part of the field.
Per touch, Jack Grealish is given four times more freekicks than Salah. That is not because he is a better footballer and more adept at winning them – it is because he is treated differently.
MoSalah has been “fouled” every 89 touches over the last 5 seasons
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) October 16, 2022
Bernardo Silva’s foul on Salah in the closing stages against City was ridiculous. He grabbed his shirt and performed a wrestling-style barrel-roll. As Silva got up, he backed into Liverpool’s no.11 and kicked him. Neither the initial incident was given as a foul and the VAR ignored Silva’s second infringement, too.
No wonder Jurgen Klopp lost the plot and ended up being sent off. He deserved it, by the way. You can’t shout in someone’s face like that. But my word, his frustration was at least warranted.
“There’s a statistic that Mo is the one player who has the least fouls against him. But not that he didn’t get fouled, just we don’t whistle,” Klopp told reporters in March.
“If you compare him to other strikers it’s crazy, absolutely crazy, how low his number is of fouls against him that the ref whistles [for]. Madness.
“So it means he constantly has contact, going down, you have to get up again and stuff like this.”
But with the referees this season deciding to let the game flow, much to the delight of many dinosaurs in TV studios, who played the game at half the pace it is now 40 years ago, Salah is getting even less.
In the first-half, his legs were hacked in the buildup to an Erling Haaland chance, and still, he got nothing. The ref saw it all. He knew it wasn’t a dive. The opposition player, without taking the ball, caused Salah to fall to the floor. It’s a foul. This is what fouling is. The FA rulebook defines it as impeding an opponent with contact, yet with Salah, the ceiling for a foul is undeniably higher than others.
Last year, Peter Walton admitted that research is done going into games on certain players and that there is a determination on how to handle them.
“Referees do study players and formations ahead of a game. They are aware that certain players need to be dealt with proactively,” he told the Times.
Laughably, Walton continued and claimed that in a match against Liverpool, Harry Kane wasn’t sent off because of his excellent reputation.
“Kane does not fall into this category. It has been ten years since his last red-card.”
During Salah’s success in England, there has been a huge attempt to discredit him by rivals and label him a diver. It’s laughable. He tries to stay on his feet more than nearly any other attacker, simply because he knows he won’t get a whistle. Yet the stats show refs have eaten up this nonsense propaganda and are judging him because of it. Walton’s admission almost confirms as much.
In the Champions League, Salah is given a foul ever 60 touches – not great – but far more often than in England.
The refs in England are a closely-knit, private club. They have their own rankings. They compete with each other for the best games. They speak constantly on WhatsApp groups. It would be mighty interesting to see what they say about Salah, because the evidence is damning.
The Silva foul on Salah not being given due to the officials attempting to keep an already brilliant game flowing is sheer stupidity.
It says a lot about Salah’s mindset and temperament that he still manages to keep a cool head and win huge matches like he did for us at the weekend in these circumstances.