(Reuters) - The long-running debate over the so-called triple punishment could be ended if referees used more intuition and sensitivity, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Friday.
Coaches have long complained that the "triple punishment", where a player gives away a penalty, is sent off and then has to serve a one-match suspension, is too harsh and completely changes the course of the game.
It is due to be discussed by soccer's rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), at its next meeting on Feb 28. The IFAB has pondered changes in the past without finding an ideal solution.
However, Blatter said in his column in FIFA's weekly magazine that referees were often too quick to show the red card to players who gave away penalties.
He pointed out that red card offences were the same, whether they take place in the penalty area or elsewhere on the field.
"These include serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting at an opponent, and denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball, or by another punishable offence," he said..
"The laws apply equally to all. However, their interpretation does demand intuition and sensitivity. Not every foul in the penalty area necessitates a sending-off, yet referees do occasionally seem prone to this fallacy.
"By interpreting the laws depending on the situation referees could put an end once and for all to the vexed discussion about triple punishments. Making these distinctions is the fine art of officiating."
Blatter added: "The phrase ‘triple punishment' is based on a misinterpretation."
"It suggests a player is punished three times for an offence, but ignores the fact that the laws of football fundamentally allow no scope for discretion."