Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings can expect to discover on Monday whether they will be charged with violent conduct by the Football Association, with the Bournemouth defender at risk of a lengthier ban.
The Manchester United top scorer faces the prospect of a three-match domestic suspension, which would have been his sanction if he had been sent off for elbowing the Bournemouth defender in the 1-1 draw on Saturday and which would rule him out of the FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea next Monday as well as the Premier League matches against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.
As stamping is considered a more serious offence, Mings could receive a heavier punishment for treading on the Swede after the referee, Kevin Friend, submits his report on Monday. Both are likely to face disciplinary hearings if Friend either says he did not see the incidents at the time but would have considered them worthy of red cards or if he had only a partial view of them and asks the FA to review them.
Ibrahimovic said on Saturday that the contact with Mings was accidental, claiming: “It was unlucky, he jumped into my elbow. But it was nothing on purpose.”
The former referee Dermot Gallagher expects the striker to be charged and banned. “The pictures do him no favours whatsoever,” he told BBC 5 Live. “That will definitely be one that the FA will look at; they’ll speak to the officials. Obviously they didn’t [see it] because, if they’d seen it, they would have acted. There’s no doubt about that.”
The 35-year-old Ibrahimovic, who has scored 26 goals this season, has served a one-match ban this season for collecting five bookings, will be eligible for both legs of United’s Europa League tie with Rostov regardless of any domestic suspension. United’s captain, Wayne Rooney, called for Mings to face a retrospective ban and one threatens to rule him out for a chunk of Bournemouth’s relegation battle.
They are the kind of incidents that could be cleared up sooner in the future after the FA announced plans to trial video assistant referees (VARs) next season. An additional official, with access to technology, could be in the stands in next season’s FA Cup, able to inform the referee if a major error has been made. Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, is also a supporter of the scheme and hopes to use VARs in the 2018 World Cup.
Had a VAR been used at Old Trafford on Saturday, Mings might have been sent off for the initial stamp, which would have prevented Ibrahimovic exacting retribution soon after.
Friend will also discover his fate on Monday when the refereeing appointments for next weekend are announced. Officials are not automatically demoted to the lower divisions for making mistakes but it may count against the 45-year-old that he seemed to forget he had shown Bournemouth’ Andrew Surman the yellow card twice before eventually sending him off.
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