The Football Association released a statement yesterday revealing their decision not to take any further action against Wigan youngster Calum McManaman for his horrendous challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haïdara last weekend.
The statement consisted of this:
“Following consultation with the game’s stakeholders in the summer, it was agreed that retrospective action should only be taken in respect of incidents which have not been seen by the match officials.”
Straight off the bat, this is infuriating – well, if you are an avid football enthusiast and you have even a modicum of rationality or intelligence, then that statement is an insult.
Yes, we have all been well aware now for quite some time that the FA is reluctant (key word) to take retrospective action against players who breach the rules of the game if the referee and officials have seen (also a key word) the incident.
The official line on the reasoning behind this decision (made by the FA and no else) used to be that it was regulations handed down to them by FIFA.
“In agreement with FIFA, this is how ‘not seen’ incidents are dealt with retrospectively in England. It is a policy that is agreed with all football stakeholders.”
That was an official statement released on April 10th 2012, upon their ruling not to rescind a red card shown to QPR’s Shaun Derry last season. Yesterday’s statement clearly contradicts that and exposed it to be a fabrication at best and a barefaced lie at worst.
FIFA has nothing to do with it. This is all on the FA, I’m afraid. When they decided not to punish Mario Balotelli for his stamp on Alex Song last season, that was their choice. When they decided not to punish Calum McManaman for his gruesome late studs-up knee-high lunge on Haïdara, that was their choice.
I’m sorry to say that when it happens every single season that a bright young talent gets injured by reckless and dangerous foul play, that is their choice, not the players’.
The FA should not be leaving the players any choice in the first place. We all know what happened to Eduardo, to Abou Diaby, to Aaron Ramsey, to Hatem Ben Arfa and countless others before them and we all know what happened to Martin Taylor, Dan Smith, Ryan Shawcross, and Nigel de Jong.
The first group spent months and in some cases years of their careers rehabilitating from horrible injuries inflicted upon them. Some of them never fully recovered.
The latter group – well, some of them were given red cards meaning they missed one or three games. Some of them, however, as Anne Robinson might say left ‘with nothing’.
The weakest link in this chain of events is not the referees who see the game at full speed from a distance though obstacles whilst running. It is not even the players who inflict these injuries with their recklessness. It’s the FA.
Until they pull their heads out of the sand and use their power to honour their responsibility to those whose safety is entrusted to them, these incidents will continue to be the rule, not the exception.
I take exception to their rules on that basis. It is their responsibility to set the precedent to players that dangerous play will have consequences that match the consequences their victims bare and endure. That’s what justice is.
image: © Mick Baker