I know it’s going to start sounding like paranoia-central on here before long but either the FA don’t like us very much or they’ve lost their grip on their own rule book because I can see no other reason to explain their inconsistent practice now.
You see, it’s my understanding that under FA rule E 3(1) “A participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.” I mean, that’s one of the charges John Terry faced wasn’t it? And ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ is the misconduct charge Ashley Cole faces because of a tweet isn’t it? Well, of course I know it was because a statement on the FA’s website said: “Chelsea FC’s Ashley Cole has been charged by The FA in relation to a Twitter comment which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”
I mean, please correct me if I’m wrong (because I actually hope I am) but Cole’s “foul-mouthed” tweet, where he used the word ‘twat’, in a similar way that the Prime Minister did on national radio, has already seen him fined by his club and is now likely to see him receive a ban from the FA. Of course, given he deleted the offending tweet and apologised ‘unreservedly’ as soon as he realised he’d crossed a line, he may well have got away with a right telling off and another hefty fine from football’s governing body as well…..until Alan Shearer not only publicly jumped aboard the media bandwagon but virtually parked it outside FA headquarters for the press.
Anyway, I digress because the issue isn’t really whether Cole gets a ban or not. Perfectly understandable he was angry with the FA (who wouldn’t have been) but clearly it’s never going to be acceptable for players to publicly bad-mouth them, so he’ll have to accept the punishment (as long as it’s proportionate to the offence). No, the issue I have is that whilst the tweet is regarded as misconduct and is duly being dealt with, the FA seem to have ignored several other cases of misconduct over the weekend without any apparent rationale.
First up, Robin van Persie. Howard Webb’s United’s latest golden boy gave Cabaye the benefit of a close-up of his elbow in their game against Newcastle at the weekend and apart from several thousand United supporters and Ferguson, nobody else who saw it regarded it as anything but violent conduct. Indeed, Alan Pardew wanted van Persie charged for the offence and I do believe I even saw the odd tweet from journalists calling the incident (very briefly) into question. Howard Webb however, even after the benefit of replays, didn’t consider it to be an act of violent conduct and so retrospective action from the FA won’t be taken.
Next, Tiote in the same game appeared to be trying to get rid of some excess mud from the bottom of his boot – via Tom Cleverley’s leg. At least that must have been what Howard Webb thought he was doing because having witnessed it at the time, he decided it wasn’t anything he needed to be unduly concerned about, so the FA again won’t be taking further again.
Finally, we have former Chelsea man Robert Huth, who clearly had his foot on Suarez’s chest at one point during the game – presumably in an effort to deter the Liverpool man from his Tom Daley impersonations. Referee Lee Mason however, clearly happier with the stud marks left behind than Suarez must’ve been, allowed Huth to continue unpunished at the time and so…..here we go again….no retrospective action from the FA.
Now I appreciate that as a general rule, if these fouls are seen and not deemed to be an issue at the time, the FA don’t take retrospective action, however, what about incidents that have clearly been misjudged? There can’t be any argument that stamping on a player isn’t playful, it isn’t an attempt to win the ball, in fact it isn’t anything except violent conduct – and according to rule E 3(1), is conduct which should carry a charge.
What’s more, when a referee has had a second (and probably third or fourth) chance to look at an incident involving deliberate use of an elbow off the ball and yet still doesn’t regard it to be an act of violent conduct, it could almost be suggested that condoning such an act is, in itself, is in danger of bringing the game into disrepute.
Just a thought.