Should Youri Tielemans have been sent off vs Bournemouth for his challenge on Callum Wilson?

Updated: 16/08/2022


Leicester beat Bournemouth 3-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon courtesy of two goals from Jamie Vardy, one a fantastic lob on the sprint from 25 yards out.

He assisted the other Foxes goal, tapped home by Youri Tielemans in the 41st minute to take a lead before half-time after Callum Wilson‘s equaliser.

However, some spectators believed that the Belgian midfielder should have been red carded during the game for a 54th minute challenge on the Bournemouth goalscorer. In addition, fans have claimed that VAR should have intervened to issue a red card.

Here is what happened and what the rules say.

The incident

Tielemans went to challenge Callum Wilson for the ball in a 50/50, but in trying to shield the ball from the Bournemouth striker he raked and stepped on his ankle, causing Wilson obvious pain.

A highlight of the challenge will likely be shown on Match of the Day tonight, which starts at 11.30pm on BBC One.

Why didn’t VAR intervene?

Callum Wilson of AFC Bournemouth celebrates after scoring his team's goal (Getty Images)
Callum Wilson of AFC Bournemouth celebrates after scoring his team’s goal (Getty Images)

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VAR will only intervene in the incident of a direct red card – not a second yellow card.

The incidents that fall under the remit for a check according to Ifab are:

• Denial of a goal scoring opportunity (especially position of offence and positions of other players)
• Serious foul play (or a reckless challenge)
• Violent conduct, biting or spitting at another person
• Using offensive, insulting or abusive gestures

It is clear that Tielemans’ challenge could have been classified as reckless, given he made contact with only the player in a robust fashion. However, VAR needs to be confident the issue is worthy of a red card to intervene.

A VAR check did appear to take place following the challenge, suggesting the check found it was not worthy of a red card.

What the rules say constitutes serious foul play or a reckless challenge

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An incident of serious foul play, which can be punished by a red card, is defined by Ifab as follows:

A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

For a challenge to be dangerous enough to constitute a red card, it must not merely be reckless, but using excessive force. According to Ifab this is as follows:

Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off

Reckless challenges, worthy only of a caution, are defined as follows:

Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned

While Tielemans’ challenge was probably attempting to shield Wilson from the ball, it was certainly reckless and worthy of a caution. However, in challenges of this variety, VAR is not permitted to intervene. It needs to be defined as using excessive force to be worthy of a red, according to Ifab’s rules.


After the match, Callum Wilson said: “[Tielemans] missed the ball and went over the top on to my ankle. If it’s not clear and obvious then I don’t know what is. I’d like to watch [it] back and see why it wasn’t [a red]. He went straight over the top and on my shin. He almost broke my ankle.”

For reference, the ‘clear and obvious’ quoted part of VAR regulations refers to a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in relation to the following types of event:

  • A goal/no goal
  • A penalty/no penalty
  • A direct red card
  • Mistaken identity in a caution or sending off

Therefore, for VAR to intervene it had to be ‘clear and obvious’ that Tielemans was exceeding the necessary use of force to contest for the ball. We will leave that interpretation up to you.

Others reacted to suggest Tielemans should have received a red.

This post first appeared here

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