I've just finished reading several thousand words on free kicks by Julian Carosi, a referee/writer who's perhaps the most knowledgeable ref outside the elite panel in Britain. He confirmed the view that Chelsea's Deco should have not received a second yellow card for a free kick offence from veteran Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo, one of Fifa's top officials. (www.corshamref.org.uk)
Awarded a free kick just outside Roma's penalty area, Cantalejo signalled clearly to Deco that the free kick was to be a "ceremonial" one, not taken until the wall was in place and all was ready. He could clearly be seen showing Deco the whistle, the universal signal to wait until the ref gives permission for play to restart.
But Deco, having apparently agree to this, then took a quick free kick. Cantalejo quite correctly stopped play, but he then cautioned Deco and sent him off. It's that punishment that I don't understand.
As far as I can see, the correct sanction is simply to order the free kick to be retaken, and the offence does not result in a caution. I would be delighted to be proved wrong if anyone out there is reading this.
The free kick is generally what it says: Free. Players are free to take quick free kicks. It makes the game exciting. But if there is a reason not to take it quickly - an injury, player to be disciplined etc - then the ref shows the apparent free kick taker the whistle and tells him to wait. It's all pretty universally understood.
Perhaps Deco was booked for unsporting behaviour, for trying to trick the referee. But in fact he should sinply have been hauled back to take the quick properly. Deco would have stayed on the field and who knows what might have happened.