Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham), who accumulated attack points after a long time, was caught up in a sudden ‘exit controversy’. A voice came out saying that he should have received a red card for a foul scene committed in a competitive situation. It is also an unfair controversy in that there was no intention at all because it was a frantic momentary competition situation, and it was Son Heung-min who suffered the opponent’s intentional foul in the first place.

The situation was this. It was the 28th minute of the first half of the 2022-2023 English Premier League (EPL) round 21 away match against Fulham held at Kravel Cottage in London, England at 5:15 am on the 24th (Korean time). Son Heung-min hit Kenny Tete’s shin with the bottom of his soccer shoe while competing with the opposing defender during a counterattack. Tete complained of pain and the referee pulled out a yellow card for Son Heung-min. Some voices say that the referee should have given Son Heung-min a sending off rather than a warning, as he hit the opponent’s leg with a stud. 안전놀이터

However, looking back at the situation at the time, giving him a direct exit was also excessive. At that time, Son Heung-min caught the ball from near the half-line and launched a counterattack, and four Fulham defenders chased after Son Heung-min at explosive speed. It was also an urgent situation to the extent that Fulham defenders clashed with each other. Son Heung-min continued dribbling, trying not to miss the ball until he turned round, and the moment he reached out to touch the ball, Tete put out his leg first and hit the ball. In the process, Son Heung-min’s foot, which was trying to touch the ball, inevitably hit Tete’s leg.

It could be a dangerous foul scene just by looking at the slow replay screen or the scene captured at the moment of the collision, but we had to take into account that the situation was moving so fast at the time. If he deliberately lifted a stud and hit his opponent, direct exit as well as follow-up punishment would be natural, but at least in this foul situation of Son Heung-min, it happened so quickly that it was difficult to even consider the intention itself.

Of course, the referee’s warning was inevitable just because he hit the opponent with the bottom of his soccer boots. However, the referee also judged that Son Heung-min’s tackle was not intentional in a fierce ball competition situation, and it can be interpreted that he did not even bring out a red card. It is in the same context that there was no additional controversy, such as harsh protests from Fulham players after the yellow card decision at the time.

Rather, from Son Heung-min’s point of view, in the scene where he first received a pass and increased his speed, the scene in which Tete ‘intentionally’ grabbed himself was more regrettable. Without this scene, it was because he could have dug in between the opposing defenders with his unique explosive speed. Son Heung-min, who almost lost his balance due to Tete’s intentional foul, managed to regain his balance and speed up, but after that, the previous controversial scene came out. If Tete’s intentional foul was pointed out from the previous scene, the card may have belonged to Tete, not Son Heung-min, in the first place. This is the reason why Son Heung-min is inevitably controversial in many ways.

Meanwhile, Tottenham overcame Fulham 1-0 with Harry Kane’s winning goal, assisted by Son Heung-min, and escaped from the recent two defeats. The gap with 4th place Manchester United, who played one less game, narrowed to 3 points. After scoring against Crystal Palace on the 5th, Son Heung-min accumulated attack points (3 assists) in 4 official matches.

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