Two-footed challenges will be red cards

EXCLUSIVE: Go two-footed and you're off! Referees to clamp down on dangerous tackles

Referees are to be ordered to punish all two-footed challenges with red cards in a hardline move to clear up confusion over dangerous tackles.

An imminent instruction from referees’ chief Mike Riley will apply whether or not there is contact or injury to an opponent — and even if the ball is won first.

Referees are understood to be aware from recent get-togethers that a firm line is being taken and Riley is in the process of providing further clarification on how the existing law is to be applied.

Red: Vincent Kompany was sent off for this challenge on Nani

Red: Vincent Kompany was sent off for this challenge on Nani

It means the recent controversial dismissal of Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany against Manchester United is to become a standard sanction for the type of challenge that has the potential to harm a rival player.

The move is a clear attempt to draw a line under an issue that has led to cries of inconsistency.

Three days after Kompany saw red for what was widely seen as a clean, ball-winning tackle on Nani at the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool’s Glen Johnson escaped any punishment for what looked a cruder lunge on City’s Joleon Lescott.

The lack of even a yellow card infuriated City manager Roberto Mancini, who was so incensed he waved an imaginary card in the direction of the referee, Lee Mason.

No red: Glen Johnson got away with this challenge on Joleon Lescott

No red: Glen Johnson got away with this challenge on Joleon Lescott

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has called for referees to show consistency, saying: ‘These inconsistencies are confusing to everyone. Referees have to be given direction about what are the laws of the game and what should be permitted in terms of tackles.

‘Mike Riley has to be given the rope to say this is not allowed, two-footed tackles are not acceptable, whether you take the ball or not.’

Now Riley is set to do just that by telling referees they must send off players guilty of two-footed challenges for the ball if an opponent is in the immediate vicinity.

It is a judgment call that could be regarded as equally controversial. But it is aimed at letting all players — and referees — know where they stand.

Come on ref! Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini waves his card

Come on ref! Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini waves his card

It follows that referee Chris Foy, widely criticised at the Etihad earlier this month, was deemed to be right to send off Kompany in the FA Cup third-round clash while Mason was wrong not to dismiss Johnson in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg.

FIFA laws themselves are open to interpretation. ‘Using excessive force’, a sending-off offence under Law 12, applies in cases where the player has ‘far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent’.

Referees are advised that if both feet are off the ground players have no control over their actions.