‘Has football gone soft?’ – Michael Essien says red card decisions at AFCON are shocking

Former Ghana midfielder Michael Essien believes referees at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) have been very harsh in showing red cards.

Michael Essien involved in a tackle

The 39-year-old was reacting to the five red cards shown in the four last 16 matches that have been played so far.

Gabon's Sidney Obissa was red-carded during his country’s 7-6 defeat on penalties to Burkina Faso in the first round of 16 game on Sunday.

Alex Iwobi was also given his marching orders as Nigeria lost 1-0 to Tunisia in the second round of 16 game.

The game between Guinea and Gambia saw both teams reduced to 10 men after Ibrahima Conte and Yusupha Njie were both sent off.

Meanwhile, a Covid-ravaged Comoros team was also forced to play with 10 men for larger parts against Cameroon after captain Jimmy Abdou was shown a red card in the seventh minute.

Observing the rate at which red cards are being shown at the AFCON, Essien wondered if football has gone soft.

“Some of these red card decisions in #AFCON are shocking. Is football getting soft?” the ex-Chelsea midfielder wrote on Twitter.

Essien has featured at multiple AFCONs and was part of the Ghana team that finished third at the 2008 edition and reached the final in 2010.

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