Actus Reus and Aaron Ramsey: Liability In Professional Sport

John SmithCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2010

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City is sent off by Referee Peter Walton for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at The Britannia Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images


That was really unpleasant.

I remember where I was. I was in St. Pat's Irish bar. Celebrating the success of the Valencia Gaelic Football Tournament 2010. Fantastic day. My mood spoiled in a moment.

Where were you?

In the stadium, in the pub? Did you watch the match live? The highlights? YouTube?

What a shame. Ryan Shawcross with a completely insane tackle. That's the word to use. Insane. Lifting his leg and swinging it as hard as he could at young Aaron Ramsey's standing leg. No play on the ball. Just one of those, "I'm gonna do this chap in just because I can."

Good. Hard. English. Football.

Go. F**k. Yourself.

I had a mate of mine in Valencia ask me why I thought Diaby, Eduardo, and Ramsey all had their legs broken in half in recent seasons. The answer is clear.

We play nice football.

The way to stop nice football is by tackling hard. This tactic is appraised by the English media. These tackles are not penalized by the English FA. And thus Arsene Wenger and his pretty foreign footballers suffer because they choose to play the game beautifully and rarely if ever put in rash, ridiculous challenges.

Arseblogger, who's blog turned eight on Saturday, did a fantastic piece today about the ridiculous media coverage Eduardo's dive against Celtic got, and how people are standing up to defend Shawcross because "he´s not that sort of player." I completely agree with him when he says "who the f**k cares?!".

I'm a lawyer. Now, my knowledge of the law is patchy at the best of times, but I am pretty sure if you bottle some lad outside a nightclub, it doesn't matter if you are "the sort of bloke" or not. You are going to be punished sufficiently for your actions.

Now, I'm not really an advocate of prison, or banning players, or just locking up/ separating people from society as a form of punishment, because they don't learn, and one of the goals of the penal system is recuperation. To rehabilitate those who have done wrong.

Giving Ryan Shawcross a three-match ban isn't going to make him think about what he has done. He isn't going to change his style of play for that. You know why? Cause he just got called into the f**king England squad.

He's going to be capped for one of the best nations in the world in the sport he loves to play, and loves to stop other people from playing. He is receiving praise for his hard-nosed behaviour and never-say-die attitude. So sit out for a couple of weeks, come back, and do the same.

My proposal is have the player meet with Ramsey, if Aaron agrees to it. Have the player attend the player's physio sessions. Have the player speak with the doctors who perform the surgery to explain the excruciating pain involved in an operation like that. Put the player in the victim's shoes for a day.

It's all a bit far fetched, but having the player miss a couple of games when his intentions were clearly outside the rules of game is not sufficient nor is it adequate punishment. The bottom line is, Ramsey is out of football indefinitely; Shawcross for two weeks. That's not fair.

People will say Shawcross didn't have the necessary mens rea (intention) in order to make him liable for the consequence of his actus reus (guilty act). I disagree. I think it's a situation of strict liability. If you do something which you know is outside the rules of the game, ie, kick someone as hard as you can without the intention of playing the ball, you are liable for whatever ensues.

If I were Aaron Ramsey's lawyer, I'd sue Shawcross for loss of prospective earnings in his future. I would claim that as a result of my client's injures, his development will stall for a year, club's will be less inclined to take a risk on this player, to give him a raise, because he's damaged property now.

It is very seldom that a player returns from such a tragic injury and is the same player or better. Fact. Djibil was decent before he injured his leg. Now he's playing in Greece, albeit well, but he's certainly not playing for France, or the most successful clubs in the history of English football. We've all seen the form of Eduardo this season. We've all seen what happened to Van Basten, David Bust, Ben Collett; the list goes on and on.

These players were certainly denied the chance to earn money as the result of other players' actions. The last name I mentioned, Ben Collett, was injured because of an "over the top" challenge when he was 18 and he just recently won a case for 4.3 million euro (or something like that) for his loss of prospective earnings.

Poor Aaron. I'm tired of this in football. I'm tired of anti-football. I'm tired of pundits telling us about the poetry of the hard English game.

Black boots.
In the rain.
Pint of bitter.
After the game.

What a bunch of macho crap. I've got a poem for any pundit or person who thinks along those lines.

I'll snap your leg,
You'll scream and shout.
For 12 long months,
You will be out.

After I read you this poem, I'll have all me mates tell you what a good guy I am, and how I didn't mean anything malicious. It's just part of the game, you see. Hard luck. I can't believe this horrible situation will go unpunished.

Sorry, that's a lie. It will be punished. Shawcross is going to be a little chilly in the stands for three games. Poor Ryan, I suppose. He was just playing the game "the way it's supposed to be played."

Hard. Strong. Brainless.