While the NFL is coming off the extremely heavy punishment handed out to the New Orleans Saints, their head coach Sean Payton and other members of staff for their participation in the bounty program, the FA are steamrolling in the other direction and avoiding justice in any ridiculous way they can.
Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have been punished due to their participation in a bounty program which saw Saints players receive rewards upwards of $10,000 for targeting and injuring players, and specifically those with serious injury in their history. The Saints head coach has been suspended for the entire upcoming season, while similar punishments have been handed out to other members of the organisation who took part.
In unbelievable comparison, the FA have completely ignored violent play, rather looking to uphold the authority of their referees, who show nothing but incompetence. This has absolutely nothing to do with player safety or stamping out violent challenges, it’s simply the FA doing their best to avoid undermining their officials. And once again, they’ve done absolutely the opposite of the right thing.
The FA’s decision to avoid punishing Mario Balotelli following his ridiculous, undisciplined and violent attitude against Arsenal players on the weekend, specifically the challenge on Alex Song, is beyond laughable. So Martin Atkinson has admitted to seeing the challenge but not deeming it worthy of a red or even yellow card. Forget the almost unanimous cries for video technology, assaults such as this is where the governing bodies need to start doing their job. Sadly, players’ comments on Twitter seems to take priority over any important matters.
Again, this is nothing to do with wanting to uphold the laws of the game; any referee with a bit of sense would have sent Balotelli off, as would his manager, the Arsenal manager, as well as any of the large number of players and former players that were sitting on both benches. The FA were rather seeking to avoid the hysteria created by the media and fans and simply look the other way. Well honestly, who cares if Martin Atkinson is undermined and his judgment called into question? He’d still be able to walk, which is more than could be said for Song had his leg been planted in the ground.
As well as this, the Shaun Derry incident sparked more than one debate, rather than just the single foolish misjudgement from the officials. Where was the outrage for Ashley Young conning the referee? Or to put it in language they’d understand, “Young was looking to ‘deceive’ the referee.” The ridiculous language used to describe Eduardo’s penalty incident against Celtic a number of years ago in the Champions League. Well that aside, the FA have once again got it so obviously wrong. There’s no concern for a club fighting relegation—no, no, they prefer to fine clubs for fielding ‘weakened sides’—instead, they’re simply looking to uphold the judgment of their referee, despite him and his assistants being wrong.
In a time where the National Hockey League hand out anything up to and beyond 10-game suspensions for hits to the head, and the National Football League being persistent with their initial punishment towards the Saints despite appeals, the football world, headed by FIFA, need to start taking similar acts to ensure player safety. Unfortunately, leaders of governing bodies like Sepp Blatter are more interested in creating talking points from the game and offering fans a number of topics to engage in discussion. Despite the dislike—a very polite term in this case—for the NHL’s commissioner Gary Bettman, he, nor any of the league managers would stand for such nonsensical notions against their game.
Last week it came to light that the MLS had suspended three players for violent conduct upon review. How embarrassing must it be that a league so far down the pecking order in quality such as the MLS is light years ahead of where the FA and English football should be with regards to player discipline.