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Thursday, August 24, 2006

If Rooney is out of order, Ben Thatcher should be out for longer

Last night, during the opening minutes of the second half of Manchester City v Portsmouth, the ball was cleared from a City corner and Pedro Mendes chased it to prevent either it from going out or a City player reaching it. He saw City left-back Ben Thatcher racing down towards the ball and kicked the ball out of play. Thatcher then collided with Mendes which sent the Pompey midfielder down to the ground and in contact with the advertising boards. Glen Johnson was nearby and aimed to hold up Thatcher to have a word, then realised Mendes was potentially in a serious state and quickly summoned the Pompey medical staff, who attended to Mendes along with the City medical staff and a stretcher. Several minutes went by and Pompey manager Harry Redknapp even came to attend the scene as Mendes developed a seizure and required oxygen. He apparently suffered another seizure en route to hospital.

Referee Dermot Gallagher deemed the incident as a bookable offence, not a straight red.

My heavens. I saw this on Sky Sports and the commentator said it looks uglier every time it was replayed, and he was right. Every time I saw it replayed it looked horrendous, Thatcher simply came in on Mendes, no challenge for the ball, no tackle, he literally came in on Mendes' left-side jaw with a high elbow from nowhere, so imagine the impact and the shock to the brain, hence the seizures and the concussive state. Appalling is an understatement, horrendous, horrific, vicious, and premeditated certainly wouldn't be. After the challenge, if one wishes to label it as that in football, you could see one or two Man City fans hesitatingly applauding Thatcher. You couldn't miss the elbow at any speed, much less the speed Thatcher was going at. Surprisingly, Mr Gallagher did.

Thatcher previously elbowed Nicky Summerbee of Sunderland at Selhurst Park back in January 2000 and received a two-game ban. He should have been arrested last night, because that was a clear case of GBH with intent. I understand Mendes is stable and will be supervised medically and neurologically, returning to Portsmouth today. And yet this is another case of reckless conduct in football that simply proceeds to serious injury and could potentially worsen into a fatality.

This is partly the reason why I endorse the ban on tackles from behind, probably why FIFA did too, owing to the recklessness of some players. Redknapp said he knew what would happen once Thatcher was seen at such pace, either he was intent on a late tackle or something else, and last night it was viciously something else. I even wrote in my weekend review "....Ben Thatcher, for me a defender with a self destruct button at times....". Mendes may well be out of action for a month and a speedy recovery to him indeed. Thatcher should be out for longer than that.



Blogger BlindJak said...

This incident will highlight another failing of the rules governing our game. Due to edicts from FIFA and UEFA the FA can take no further action on Thatcher because the ref has been deemed to have dealt with the situation during the game.

The FIFA/UEFA rules are based on the reasoning that refs NEVER make mistakes nor miss any incident. While refs need to be backed up by the associations this sport of thinking is erroneous in the extreme and refs themselves would hold up their hands and say they miss things.

So now the FA’s hands are tied. Despite it being clear as day that a very lengthy ban should ensue it will remain a yellow card.

This quote says it all. - A Fifa spokesman confirmed to BBC sport: "It is one of the fundamental rules of the game that the referee's decision is final.

"Therefore, if it is his decision that an offence warrants a yellow card, that cannot be changed later."

Sheer short-sighted stupidity.

8/24/2006 3:05 pm

Blogger T said...

Redsman, I can't remember being as angry with a challenge on the football pitch as when I saw this assault by Ben Thatcher last night on Match of the Day.

To deliberately aim a forearm smash at the side of Mendez' head while travelling at maximum velocity is a total disgrace. Mendez was knocked out unconcious and suffered a seizure, but although I'm no medical expert I fear that could he have suffered an even worse injury.

Because Dermot Gallacher only gave a yellow card (which by the way was a shocking decision subject to a defence that he did not have a good view of the incident) the FA seem to be hamstrung in being able to substitute this punishment for a a violent conduct charge.

If ever there was an incident that should be a catalyst for changing this state of affairs, than this is it. Ben Thatcher should be given at least a three match ban, although I would consider a five to ten match ban more deserving.

This tackle comes after seeing the Fulham midfielder, Michael Brown, disgracefully jump and stamp with two feet on Ryan Giggs upper leg on Sunday. This tackle was also only punished with a yellow card, which left Giggs completely incensed, and also meant that the FA were hamstrung to deliver further punishment.

Where the referee, for whatever reason, fails to give a red card for clear violent conduct the FA should exceptionally be able to step in to substitute a tougher and more appropriate punishment.

The cruelty of Thatcher's assault gives them the perfect opportunity to introduce such a rule..

8/24/2006 3:07 pm

Blogger T said...

Just seen your comment BlindJak, and I couldn't agree more.

If the FA has no authority on their own to change the status-quo, than they should lobby UEFA/FIFA to legislate for the exceptional circumstance where the ref has clearly delivered an insufficient punishment for deliberate violent conduct.

They owe it to Pedro Mendez to do this.

8/24/2006 3:19 pm

Blogger yellowcheesemonkey said...

Agree with all the comments above.At present it looks as though Thatcher could get the same punishment for GBH as the Hearts player got for an uncovered earring -a measly yellow card. Thatcher should get 3 months in prison and City should pay Pompeycompensation for the loss of Mendes...
I am one unhappy Pompey fan right now...

8/24/2006 3:27 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can all debate about how the FA should/shouldn't be able to undertake punishment but this entirely misses the point. Thatcher should be charged (and it looks like he is being investigated for it) by the Police for GBH with intent. If I did that at work I would, rightly, be arrested and put on trial.

This incident has no place in football. It definately has no place in a civilized society. Given Thatchers past history on this the deduction is that he has no place in a civilized society. This is what we have prisons for.

(btw I am not a Pompey fan (Lincoln City) but my thoughts go out to Mendes and his family as I know what it is like to have a seizure)

8/24/2006 4:10 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Though I welcome any dissenting comments, those above are on the ball. My goodness, that incident has to do with football as civil rights are with the Ku Klux Klan. And when he collided with Mendes he got up and was about to trot off like nothing serious happened, not a care. Vicious, and he writes a letter of apology, which I would return ripped up. The original title of my article was 'If rooney is out of order, Thatcher should be out of football', but I felt that would be too strong to say. Maybe I should have let it stay....

Disgraceful is yet another understatement.


8/24/2006 6:48 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

The FA must clearly, clearly, IF they value the interests of English football, make this an exception and intervene into the incident. When it is seriuos enough for the local police to be invloved, it has to be an exception.


8/24/2006 6:51 pm

Blogger SKG said...

i agree with everything that has been written. thatcher is a disgrace.

8/24/2006 8:07 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

This really does push the boundary for video evidence on the spot for the refs...and I am amazed the linesman didn't speak up about it to Gallacher. Surely, a quick video playback helps the ref make the correct decision, as well as in the case of two-legged tackles etc.

Disgraceful, but who is to blame? The rules or the ref?

8/25/2006 2:56 am

Blogger EL said...

I agree with virtually all the comments made. I never liked Thatcher when he was at Spurs and i still don't. He reminds me of Terry Yorath at his worst. For some reason we accept things on a football field which we would never in a town centre on a saturday night. I'd love Mendes to press charges and for the FA to ban Thatcher for at least three months if not half the season. How many of you are aware that during Man city's pre season tour of china, during a 'friendly' which city lost 4-3, Thatcher put Yang Chun Chang in hospital with a punctured lung after a challenge which went unpunished by the ref. Although Thatcher was later sent off for two bookable offences. He always has been and always will be a very nasty piece of work.

When a player is injured badly enough that he is out of the game for a period of time and it is accepted by fooballing authorities that the perpetrator's act was intentional. Why shouldn't the aggressor's punishment include a ban which lasts as long (or a little longer) than the amount of time the victim is unable to play?

Just a thought.


8/25/2006 10:27 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, El, wasn't aware of that during Man City's pre-season, and adds more to Thatcher's dismal behaviour. Fortunately Mendes has spoken and given his thoughts on the issue, he could have been brain damaged. Stuart Pearce has not defended Thatcher and has in fact labelled the moment as "indefensible". But he did mention that "[a]nything that happens on a football pitch should be governed by the FA and FIFA. Once you start involving the police, the floodgates can open and you could end up with a situation where players are arrested during a game."

I disagree. Conduct such as Thatcher's is grounds for a police investigation when someone makes no attempt to play within the rules of a sport and instead display a manner that would be an arrestable offence in public streets. There is a yardstick that can judge as to what is and what isn't necessary to act on. For instance spitting would not be necessary yet intentional use of conduct to severely injure another player could very well be.

Football has still far to go to reduce terrible incidents. The FA say the referee dealt with the matter so they are powerless to intervene, except maybe in exceptional circumstances. I suggest someone at the FA investigate their definition of 'exceptional circumstances'. Isn't it the rule that straight reds could only be appealed in the case of mistaken identity? Yet Andy Todd of Blackburn had a successful appeal from his sending off on Saturday, contrary to FIFA regulations. What the *&$)$*!!* is the FA playing at?


8/25/2006 11:14 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks a lot EL for that piece of info about the challenge on Yang Chun Chang at the beginnning of this month. I googled the incident just now and read these words attributed to Thatcher from the Manchester Evening News:

"When I discovered that Yang Chun Chang was in hospital, I was shocked and saddened,"...

"I would never want to see a fellow professional hurt. I have suffered two punctured lungs during my career, and have recovered. I know he is getting the best medical attention, and wish him every success."

Less than a month later he has to make a similar public apology... unbelievable!

El, as for the idea about a ban lasting for the extent that the player is out, it may not work because some players may have quicker recovery times than others meaning that a challenge that is equally bad can be met by different length's of punishment. Similarly a challenge to the head like against Mendes may involve a far quicker recovery time than a two footed challenge breaking someone's ankle like against Abou Diaby who was injured against Sunderland in May and will not be back until October... which means that despite the equality of the severity of assault there will again be differences in length of punishment.

I prefer the proposal that there is a fixed one, three or six month penalty for such an action... i.e. one not dependent on the length of recovery.

8/25/2006 11:22 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...This man Thatcher is, and has always been a dual character. Apparently, he is a decent bloke off the pitch, well thats where he belongs...OFF THE PITCH FOR GOOD.

Over many years as a supporter ive seen many very bad attacks (they are not tackles but assaults) none have been given the punishment they should have. Thatcher has done this before several times, and his record suggests to me that he should be banned for a whole season, and made to work for Portsmouth & the Mendes family as a skivvy during that time.

Whne you remember Paul Davis, the mildest player in AFC history got a massive ban for retaliation to racist comments, it says it all about how our stupid FA works.

Sorry to say, but coaches, managers, and other players know every one of these thugs, but are quite happy to work with them until one of them goes completely over the top as Thatcher does on a regular basis.......why? I can name quite a few that, for one dodgy reason or another, got away with filth, and others got blasted.

We have to now join together and lobby our useless Association until they have to pre empt further abuses like this one. I agree with so many about a video ref sitting with the SKY team, who has direct contact with the ref, and could in less than a minute relay to him " that this is a red card offence" this would help inept refs like Gallagher to due their job as it should be done.

8/26/2006 11:06 am

Blogger T said...

GP, according to the referees' chief, the powers within the FA are on the verge of lobbying FIFA with the idea of using video replay's during matches.

Even if this proposal is not accepted, this incident (as well as the Michael Brown incident)highlights that the fourth official, as well as the two linesman, needs to step up and take on their responsibilty for watching the game closely and informing the ref of any incident that they may have missed. The fact that the three officials assisting Dermot Gallacher in the Man City match were either unable or unwilling to say that it was a red card offence is bemusing...

8/26/2006 12:07 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Good heavens, T mentioned about Michael Brown on Ryan Giggs, and it was Mr Brown of Fulham who lunged two-footed on Sean Davis of Portsmouth which earned him a straight red. Last season I believe it was. I'm contemplating a name and shame list of tackles that simply, simply at the least are misnomers and at worst deserving of a custodial sentence.


8/26/2006 3:32 pm


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