Tottenham’s complaint, which they’re about to launch following Charlie Adam’s tackle on Paulinho on the weekend, is likely to fall on deaf ears.
The problem Spurs face in their pursuit for retrospective justice is that they’re not the first club to feel the lasting effects of players whose sole purpose is to take others out of action. Tottenham themselves may find action justifiable due to the nature of Paulinho’s injury, reportedly out for up to four weeks, but governing bodies such as the FA will ask why the exception should be made now.
That’s not to say Spurs shouldn’t seek to act. The issue, as is usually the case, is the governing bodies’ lack of interest in matters such as dangerous tackles, where a three-match ban is seen as sufficient punishment. Instead, the Premier League show more interest in stamping out what they believe to be damaging or insulting actions, such as Jack Wilshere’s salute to the Manchester City fans earlier in the month. On that occasion, there was no interest in the reckless tackle from Yaya Toure on Olivier Giroud – a potential leg-breaker.
The FA are far too concerned with the matter of undermining their own referees, refusing to take action retrospectively and upholding the authority held by their officials. You have to wonder where that tired and at times infuriating excuse is simply a smokescreen for their lack of willingness to come down hard on tackles which are perceived to be reckless and dangerous. After all, there is never further punishment handed out beyond a three-match suspension resulting from a red card – and that’s only if the offending player is caught by the referee during the game. It’s seems to be a case where governing bodies are happy to let such actions fly, rather focusing their time on matters of less importance.
It’s not to say it’s time now for the FA and Premier League to dish out greater punishments to offenders and repeat offenders of dangerous play – it’s to say that it should have been done a long time ago.
But where do you draw the line? What’s an accident and what is intentional? Problematically, every player who is found guilty of reckless play will plead their innocence and receive backing from their club, citing the age-old cliché that he’s “not that type of player.”
Moreover, from a public perspective, is there a definitive line we can draw where we can say with absolute certainty that a tackle is dangerous or not? Take Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s disagreement over Gareth Barry’s tackle on Mikel Arteta, which again could have resulted in a break. One condemned the tackle, while the former said Barry had a right to make the challenge. Nevertheless it was reckless. Shouldn’t players have a responsibility to ensure the safety of others on the pitch? Or does that strip the game of its masculinity?
England’s focus on the game is pace, power, strength and meaty challenges; it’s what the majority of the country have been brought up on. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between a tackle that should be outlawed and one that is well within reason. To some, every tackle has a place in the game, where if it doesn’t come off, it’s simply a matter of misfortunate rather than malice. It seems the FA are advocating this line of thinking too.
Tottenham are likely to be unsuccessful with their appeal, but that’s not to say they’re incorrect to pursue the matter. Paulinho has become Adam’s third victim in a Tottenham shirt in three years, of which Gareth Bale was the recipient of a reckless challenge on two occasions.
The FA, however, will simply bat away the protest for action, probably with one eye on the increase in appeals in the future if they do address Spurs’ complaint, but also because they just don’t appear too bothered by that side of the game.