Andre Villas-Boas’ frustration is more than understandable. In his view, Fernando Torres got away with it, an altercation with Jan Vertonghen that the Tottenham manager feels should have been retrospectively punished.
But is that the primary source of Villas-Boas’ stinging condemnation over a lack of action? On some level, you have to feel that the frustration is in the FA’s incompetence, or perhaps its insistence to pick and choose when it wants to take action.
It once again boils down to governing bodies wishing to maintain the idea that their officials do have authority, no matter to what degree, over football matches. Or, obviously, the favoured line is that they don’t want to undermine referees and their decisions. In this case, Mike Dean had seen the ‘coming together’ between Torres and Vertonghen and had decided that the scratch, which was clear, had little in it and certainly not worthy of a card.
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But it’s nothing new. The FA’s lack of action isn’t central to the Torres incident. They insist that referees don’t need help – why else would they toe the line that retrospective action can undermine an already ‘good call?’ – and yet they fail to make referees’ jobs any easier. How about video technology for this sort of thing? How about another official behind the line? Another pair of eyes can do little harm when the first two (or three) may be restricted from certain angles.
You have to ask though, in the case of Torres, whether the FA were looking at the bigger picture and choosing not to open up an avenue of stress for themselves. It may be cynical, but in turn there may be some truth to it. Had Torres been playing for another team, say one that didn’t have so much power in the league, would we have seen action? Chelsea are not quite Manchester United under Alex Ferguson, but getting into a lengthy war of words with Jose Mourinho isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
And it stretches beyond domestic football. Only this week, UEFA have decided to extend Jurgen Klopp’s touchline ban by one extra game. The Borussia Dortmund manager has already missed a game, his side’s 3-0 win at home to Marseille, so here’s a question, why wait until now to dish out another ban? And what was it for? Klopp confronted the fourth official over an incident which left his team exposed at the back and allowed Napoli to score in week one.
Ok, intimidation, confrontation, but it’s not really anything we haven’t seen before. Again, Dortmund may be a big team, but they’re not one of the most powerful. Arsenal have been down this road a number of times with UEFA, and you do get a sense that they choose when to fight their battles based on the likelihood of victory. After all they wouldn’t want to undermine themselves by getting caught up in a battle that they had little chance of winning.
Though again this could all be very cynical and a case of wishing to see conspiracies that aren’t actually there.
Villas-Boas, though, could find himself in hot water following what could be interpreted as an attack on the FA and their decision-makers. There is a level of incompetence, but it’s also a failure to properly enforce the rules of the game.
Will the FA’s lack of action open up more problems?
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