Editorial

Football crime can’t pay

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION maintain they cannot take action against a player if the referee has seen the incident even if his decision at the time seems obviously wrong.

FIFA, the FA say, do not allow this course of action so Wayne Rooney escaped disciplinary action for what most observers believed was an act of violent conduct on Wigan’s James McCarthy.

I doubt if I am alone in believing that had a player done what the Manchester United striker did during the World Cup finals FIFA would have found a way of punishing the guilty party.

The FA are happy to ignore one of FIFA’s disciplinary rules. Article 18 (4) states: ‘An expulsion automatically incurs suspension from the next subsequent match.’

Yet if a player successfully appeals against wrongful dismissal the red card stays on his disciplinary record though he serves no suspension…contrary to the regulations of world football’s governing body.

I have searched for the FIFA regulation (yes, I know I should get out more) that says ‘if a referee sees an incident the national association cannot take further action’ but can find it nowhere.

However, I did come across Article 77 of FIFA’s disciplinary code – specific jurisdiction – states that the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for:
a) sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention;
b) rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions;
c) extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art 18, par. 4);
d) pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.

Surely B allows the FA to look again at incidents where the referee, perhaps understandably from one angle in real time in the heat of the action, has made a human error? While few would be comfortable with matches being re-refereed, at the same time there should always be a natural sense of justice. A dangerous elbow in the face of an opponent should be punished accordingly even if initially the referee deemed it only a yellow card offence. Football crime must not be seen to pay.

While I accept the laws of football should the the same at all levels of the sport I find it difficult to comprehend why a national association cannot have their own disciplinary system. Well, they do. In

Spain for example players can appeal against yellow cards which is not the case in English football. In Italy players have been banned because they have retrospectively been found guilty of simulation which wouldn’t happen here.

How refreshing it would be for the FA to take the lead and say to FIFA ‘we are going to ensure that players who commit serious infringements of the laws are punished.’ Article 77 B of FIFA’s disciplinary statutes appears to suggest they can. I cannot see how FIFA could do anything. Their law-making body, the International Football Association Board, are responsible for the laws of the game but FIFA should not be able to control domestic disciplinary systems especially if they punish offenders. After all, FIFA’s slogan is Fair Play.

REAL MADRID are set to follow the lead of Arsenal and rename their stadium the the Santiago Bernabeu Emirates.

Florentino Perez, the Real president, has been in the Middle East for talks with the Emirates group who sponsor Arsenal.

The company are willing to finance the refurbishment of the Bernabeu stadium – named after the former Real president – to make it a modern sports complex.

Part of the deal is that the stadium would be called the Santiago Bernabeu Emirates with the Fly Emirates logo on Real’s shirts. Their current sponsorship deal with Bwin ends in 2013.

MAYBE JUST MAYBE members of the Football Writers’ Association will finally hear Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich speak in public.

The Russian billionaire has never given an interview since taking charge at Stamford Bridge, such secrecy adding to his mystique.

But Abramovich is set to appear in the High Court, probably in October, to answer claims of breach of trust and contract brought by Boris Berezovsky, a former friend and protégé of the Blues’ supremo. If the case actually goes to the High Court it is likely to last 10 weeks, according to the Times’ business section.

Abramovich is being represented by Skadden whose European head is Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman.

Christopher Davies

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