Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The FA and Retrospective Punishment

Today it was announced that the FA would not take action against Callum McManaman for his tackle at the weekend. The BBC quotes the FA statement that "Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge. This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents".

So far, so good, but clearly this isn't a consistent line. Go back to September 2006 and Ben Thatcher's elbow on Pedro Mendes, as covered here. The BBC's own description of events ran "Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher has been suspended for eight games by the Football Association for elbowing Portsmouth midfield man Pedro Mendes.... Thatcher was only booked at the time by referee Dermot Gallagher".

Clearly, then, it's not unprecedented for the FA to take retrospective action, even when an official not only saw the incident but when punishment was meted out at the time. In fairness, the BBC story on the Thatcher case notes that because "of the severity of the incident, the FA circumvented its own rules to lodge a charge of "serious foul play" against Thatcher". Since that set a precedent, however, it's disingenuous of anyone to suggest that the FA could not have acted in the recent McManaman case, had they wanted to; the fact is that they chose not to.

(For the record, I've not seen the McManaman incident and am therefore agnostic as to whether it deserved retrospective punishment; my point is simply that the reasoning offered by the FA for not taking such action seems weak, given that they have done so before.)


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