Red cards in football don’t come much harsher than the one handed to Jimmy Corcoran against The Netherlands.
Corcoran, Ireland’s Under-17 goalkeeper, went from joy to despair in the European Championships in Chesterfield when, after making an impressive save from a Dutch player, he was ruled to have come off his line.
Rather than simply ordering a retake, the referee also opted to show Corcoran a yellow card and, as he had already been booked in regular play, he was sent off.
The youngster had to hand his gloves to outfield player Oisin McEntee, watching on hopelessly as the retaken penalty was scored to give the Netherlands victory.
You can see it unfold from 2:27 in the video below.
There was fury at the decision, and understandably so.
While Corcoran may have been fractionally off his line, plenty of others have been far more obviously guilty of the offence without suffering the same punishment. The first application of a rule will always be contentious, especially if those watching aren’t aware of it, and that’s before we even get onto the subject of whether the application was correct.
Pierluigi Collina, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer, called for goalkeepers to be booked for leaving their line when facing a penalty after at least one offence went unspotted during Euro 2016.
However, applying the rule in normal time is one thing, but doing so in a penalty shoot-out – with no chance to bring on a replacement goalkeeper if all substitutes have been used – is another entirely. Moreover, spectators were unable to point to another instance where this punishment had been meted out.
Corcoran could be forgiven for being as furious about the call as the fans watching, however he opted to rise above it, issuing a very calm and measured statement.
“As the dust settles on last night’s events, I would like to thank everyone for their support. My teammates, friends, family and so many in the sporting world have been unbelievable,” he wrote.
“Now it’s time to accept that although as cruel a blow as it was, the decision was correct and we will move on and learn from it to become stronger.”
He included the quote “Play the game, not the occasion,” implying that the significance of the game – a major championship quarter-final – shouldn’t cloud our judgement of the rules.
With this level of professionalism, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him go very far.