Sunday, during Nice-Angers, Jean-Clair Todibo received a red card after only nine seconds of play. An absolute record? Impossible to be sure. On the other hand, we already know that the Niçois did “better” than Maxime Spano-Rahou, asked to join the locker room after forty seconds during a trip from Toulouse to Lille in 2014. Testimony of an early expulsion.


Do you remember exactly the action that led to your express expulsion from Lille on December 14, 2014?
Sure. Just after kick-off, a central Lille plays long. First, a Serbian defender from our country, whose name I forget (this is the Romanian Dragoș Grigore, editor’s note) loses his duel of the head. Then, François Moubandje is overtaken by Divock Origi. And me, who is not at fault in the story, I continue my race to try to catch up with the opposing attacker, except that I unbalance him. Penalty, red card, double penalty.

What goes through your head when you see the referee pull out the red?
There is a movie running. Just imagine, I’m twenty years old, it’s my first tenure in Ligue 1 and I’m putting my team in difficulty after only 40 seconds. We are living through a complicated season, I’m afraid that the coach is no longer counting on me, of never playing again, I’m thinking of my career… I went straight back to the locker room. There was no point in arguing with the referee, anyway I was more shocked than anything else. What is certain is that today, with more experience, I would have acted differently. Instead of trying to make up for my colleagues’ mistakes, I would have let Origi go to a duel with the goalkeeper.

What is the prevailing feeling when leaving the field?
A feeling of shame, though, because I abandoned my teammates very early in the game. In addition, unlike Todibo, I was almost starting out as a pro. Lots of things were swirling around in my head. Besides, my brother, who was playing in Lens at the time, had planned to come and see me play that evening. He arrived at the stadium late, so he didn’t even see me on the pitch! (Laughs.)

“I went up to the stands straight away, to see my brother and discuss all this with him. I had to release the pressure. »

Still, did it help you that your brother was there?
Yes. After the expulsion, I immediately went up to the stands to see my brother and discuss all this with him. I had to release the pressure. If I had stayed alone in the locker room, I would have gamberged, I would have asked myself too many questions. A week later, there was the winter break, and I still moved on pretty quickly.

Going back to more recent events, was Jean-Clair Todibo’s expulsion on Sunday too severe in your opinion?
In my opinion, yes. It was worth a yellow. OK, he cuts off a big chance for Angers, but other defenders can come back. As it happens very early, the referee must show psychology. He knows that by putting a red after not even ten seconds, he kills the match. There, he could have taken the time to better analyze the situation.

“The players are the same, they did not become butchers overnight. »

In general, we see that the refereeing corps has a heavy hand at the start of the season: 34 reds after eight days of Ligue 1, 45 after nine days of Ligue 2.
I still watch a lot of dating (he has been looking for a club since the end of his contract with Valenciennes, editor’s note), and yes, those eviction stats are totally insane. However, the players are the same, they did not become butchers overnight. The problem does not come from them, and undoubtedly that the referees only apply instructions resulting from in top. But all this should be quickly remedied. Because a red kills the team receiving it and completely changes the face of the game.

OK, but how do you fix it?
The referees should be a little more “lenient” and tend towards what is done in England. If the spectators love the English championship, it’s also because the referees let play, there are guys who beat each other, but that doesn’t lead to expulsions all the way… We could get away with it. Inspire. Because there, when I see Saint-Étienne find themselves at eight, Metz do the same a few weeks later, Annecy receive a red at almost every match, I wonder where we are going.

Interview by Raphaël Brosse


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Peggy McColl

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