#4 – The Sin Bin

Posted on October 11, 2011 by


The idea that football should introduce the sin bin system, as used in both codes of rugby, is not a new one, but it is a good one. For five years at least people have been arguing that a yellow card should result in a ten minute rest for the guilty party, the Irish FA even drew up a proposal for its introduction back in 2009. Yet still players who commit cynical fouls are allowed to carry on as if little has happened.

The sin bin was brought into Rugby Union after the 1999 World Cup, although the idea of a ‘cooler’ (literally to send to the touchline a player who was getting ‘hot under the collar’ rather than for cynical infringement) was first mooted and used inSouth Africain the 1970s. It was an obvious and instant success in the game, giving the referee a middle ground between simply penalising a player and removing him from the game for good.

It’s an option that referees need in football as well. There is often an argument that denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity shouldn’t be a red card; that was brought up again on the opening day of the season when Kieran Richardson felled Luis Suárez, but Phil Dowd didn’t want to send him off. You can bet any amount you want of any currency you like that had Dowd had the option to sin bin him,Sunderland’s lump of uselessness would have spent the next ten minutes getting an earful from Fat Head Bruce.

And it is that sort of cynical challenge where the sin bin would come in. Violent conduct would still be punished with a red card. Wayne Rooney, for instance, would still have been sent off for booting Miodrag Džudović up the arse, and Lee Cattermole would still be deservedly sent off for the simple offence of being Lee Cattermole. But there would be a common sense solution to the cynical challenge.

It would have an entertaining effect on the game as well. A team given only ten minutes of an advantage would be required to attack in that time. In the recent Merseyside derby, knowing that they had over an hour to play against ten men, Liverpool settled into a patient approach, happy to wear down their opponents, safe in the knowledge that they would tire and the goals would come. Had their numerical advantage lasted for only ten minutes, however, you can be assured that they would have gone hell for leather to get a goal while they were a man up, creating a far better spectacle for the fans.

But why stop there? Part of the punishment of a sin binning offence should be the embarrassment of having let your team down. Offenders should be required to (literally, Richard) sit in a bin. Imagine the hours of comedy derived from watching Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo sitting on the sideline in a big, black plastic bin. It would perhaps have the effect of bringing these prima donnas down a peg or two, and who can complain at that? I don’t care if you’re paid two hundred grand a week, get in the bin

What’s more, it’s affordable at every level. Unlike video technology, which is the preserve of the rich echelons of the game, if your club can’t afford to spend £20 at Homebase on a bin then there are far bigger worries around the corner.

In short, I can see no logical argument against the sin bin being brought into football. It seems that the only thing continually screeched against it is the determination not to take on any idea from “those egg chasing bastards” no matter how beneficial it may be – for the record, it should be stated here that the ‘game clock’ present in both codes of rugby should also be adopted into football. FIFA need to get off their fat, corrupt, collective arses and realise what needs doing to the game. The addition of big plastic bins to stadia the world over would be a good first step.

By Simon Furnivall. Simon is a football writer for a number of websites and publications, including his own site, the Lovely Left Foot. You can follow him on Twitter @SFurnivall.