Kompany's defence was made by the arbiter of all things fair, with a spirited argument made by Scotland's prodigal son; Alan Hansen. Those unfamiliar with the Laws of the Game may have been persuaded by his justification, ailing that "tackling is gone forever if the [red] card stands" and further defended this stance with "at times you tackle and the other foot may come off the floor".
In the first instance, Hansen seems to be defending 'hard tackling' needing to be retained to avoid 'football getting soft' as if a potentially leg-breaking challenge is somehow an integral part of the noble game. Again he qualifies this with "his challenge was not two-footed and the ball was won cleanly", as if winning the ball first is an irrefutable defence of a tackle. Finally he offers us his interpretation of the laws by arguing: "the law says that it is a red card if a player is reckless or out of control but, if you look at Kompany, then he was in control".
Is he right? Is he wrong? Let's look at what the evidence shows and what FIFA says on the matter.
Law 12 of The Laws of the Game (easily found with any quick Google search) clearly states that using 'excessive force means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent'. At this point it should also be noted that being 'reckless' is worthy only of a yellow card, not a red. Now if one looks at the challenge it is clear that the tackle is two-footed, albeit that both feet don't make contact with either Wilshere or the ball simultaneously.
From one angle the tackle looks more innocuous than the other, yet when viewed in real time, the potential for injury to Wilshere is absolutely clear.
It is not possible to be in control of one's body if both feet are off the ground. Simple physics dictates that a player cannot avoid a collision if he's already in the air. A well-time slide tackle is not one that is challenged directly through the front of a player tacking the ball with the studs but rather one that is timed from the side and sweeps the ball away with the laces. In this case it would perfectly valid to make contact with the opponent, but in doing so the player's safety has been ensured (to the greatest extent it can be) and there's no danger of the tackler's momentum going through him.
Hansen's defence that "I defy anyone to make a high-speed tackle and keep both feet on the ground - one foot has to come off the floor at some point' is again another utterly irrelevant point, despite it being fairly accurate. Anyone who's played football at any level is familiar with a slide tackle, even ones that are poorly timed or where a foot is too high. Yet, when tackling from the side a high foot missing the ball is only in danger of catching an opponents leg and bringing him down or causing a simple trip. The great danger of a tackle from the front with momentum directed through an opponent is that any contact does not just trip- it injures. This is at a minimum a reckless act but can often be seen excessive use of force by the referee.
Possibly the most important point to note is that not touching an opponent or even winning the ball cleanly or before touching the man is not a defence of excessive use of force. Just think of dangerous play for instance, it is widely accepted and known that a high footed challenge, even when winning the ball and not touching an opponent results in an indirect free kick. Yet despite this, when a tackle is made with both feet off the ground and in no control of one's body, many of us are outraged at the decision. "It's not even a foul!" we cry. So why are we outraged at a potentially career-ending challenge yet accept a merely high leg as a 'valid' foul?
In law, the intent, or threat to harm someone is judged to be equal to having carried out that act. But in football, it seems that we are only willing to get animated when a leg is actually broken. As long as Vincent Kompany's challenge doesn't actually touch anyone, what's the harm right? Challenging for the ball without control of one's body or with force excessive to that needed for a fair tackle is grounds for being sent off. And since such tackles are viewed at the time, not by our particularly vociferous, yet in many ways utterly clueless media, but rather by the referee, who's opinion the fate of the challenger must side. Not what Alan Hansen may think and certainly not the apparent collective wisdom of the vocal anonymous online masses.
Football is not in danger of becoming 'soft', it is just getting better at cracking down on the challenges that rob us of time with some of greatest players. What's more is that clubs and managers should be behind these changes. How long was Wenger without Ramsey for? What would Man Utd do without Van Persie or Man City without Aguero for 18 months should a leg breaker come their way? That's something football can do without.
It remains to be seen whether City's appeal will be successful. Occasionally decisions are made by the appeals panel that are baffling. Sometimes harsh decisions are upheld and acts of violence are overturned. One thing is for sure however, for someone as experienced as Kompany with a record of ill advised challenges and as an example for young footballers, it's time to stamp these kind of tackles out of the game. Overturning this decision implies that it is okay to tackle with your bodyweight directly going through an opponent and invites yet more vitriol at officials who get to see a tackle only once and from only one direction.
Then again, regardless what decision is made our pundits won't learn or even read the rules to the game they claim to know so well. One thing is for sure however, we certainly deserve better.