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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fulham v Middlesbrough: The FA's 'exceptional circumstances'

I'm not a fan of Andrew Johnson of Fulham. I think he dives or feigns contact for decisions, not regularly but often enough. He has, in his brief spell with Everton, wound up the LFC fans like the mischievous child who sticks his/her tongue out at you whilst shopping with parents or travelling in the car, for no good reason other than boredom.

Yet when I say he was very, very harshly denied proper justice yesterday following an horrific challenge by Middlesbrough's Julio Arca, it must have been something. Johnson and Arca went 50-50 for the ball at one point and the Argentinian placed his foot nowhere near the ball, and ended up nearer Johnson's knee than Johnson's own sock. Arca's foot then trailed down Johnson's leg towards his ankle.

Replayed on last night's Match Of The Day, you heard Johnson yell out in pain. I would submit that Arca's contact was not enough to severely injure Johnson but the placing of his foot made the contact look far, far worse than it probably was. Who knows how players genuinely react to sudden contact, Johnson thankfully was OK afterwards and did not suffer a leg break or anything like that. But astonishingly referee Keith Stroud gave Arca only a booking!!! When he sees the replay, he should be feeling quite ashamed to have registered he saw the incident and issued only a booking, because if he had, there is no question Arca should have been dismissed.

Middlesbrough's manager Gareth Southgate felt aggrieved at the penalty decision given against his defender Tony McMahon. McMahon and Fulham's Bobby Zamora went to challenge in the Middlesbrough penalty box and McMahon's attempted clearance spun up and came off his left forearm. Now replays showed, for me, that it was McMahon's momentum that led to his arm touching the ball. Referee Stroud didn't give the decision but alerted by his linesman, he did. From another angle, you could see the linesman in question not give the indication of a handball the moment it occurred but the crowd and a few players appealed immediately and he then indicated with his flag. He may have looked to give the benefit of the doubt but then found his mind made up by the appeals.

Southgate may well find himself on the end of yet another bad decision, but nothing was mentioned of the potentiality of Arca being dismissed. However, the FA spoke of intervening in 'exceptional circumstances' when they dealt with former Man City defender Ben Thatcher for his thuggish elbow contact on then Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes during the Man City v Portsmouth match, August 2006. They were quoted as saying: ".....the incident is being considered as an exceptional case. The FA contends that the challenge was sufficiently serious that had Thatcher been sent off, an additional sanction would have been merited."

I can compare Arca's challenge to that of Birmingham's Martin Taylor on Arsenal's Eduardo at St. Andrew's, February this year. Similarities are Arca made no contact with the ball; his foot was nowhere near the ball; it made contact directly with Johnson's leg and trailed down towards the ankle. The only exception is Arca didn't go as far as the ankle.

We have had the appeal over respect being paid to officials during the game, the FA should now reconsider about non-intervention in such circumstances. The publicity over Taylor's tackle is clear in the memory. Arca's was almost identical. We need to stamp this challenge out, it has nothing to do with football, it will cause another serious injury and it can end the footballing career of two players, much less one.

Eduardo enjoyed 45mins of a recent reserve game against Portsmouth, I believe, and I can't applaud that fact enough. I also believe Taylor is still with Birmingham. Both of them, as a result, could have walked away from football. If the FA will not re-consider intervention, then continue to expect the type of horror challenges and the resulting injuries we came to acknowledge at St Andrew's in February. Because the FA will not.



Blogger darkone said...

just a point of around half a season while everton took videos of 10 penalty incidents, many involving johnson to keith hackett, the referee head honcho for his opinion....he said 8were stonewall(maybe not his words)and the others were borderline... if gerrard or ronaldo had been involved we know these would have been 'exceptional circumstances'

12/21/2008 12:14 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks a lot worse in slow mo. You have to remember johnson was running at pace Arca did not do it intentionally.

12/21/2008 1:12 pm

Blogger T said...

Arca's challenge was a nasty one and he could have had no complaints if the red card was shown. It is difficult to understand why he made contact so high off the ground.

Yet, I can't see the FA invoking the 'exceptional circumstances' principle. The reason why is that I can't see them doing anything of the sort while Barnsely attempt to legally challenge the FA's decision to refuse to act on Morgan's elbow on Hume - which was missed at the time by the referee.

I've been meaning to mention this on EFT for a while. I find this refusal by the FA to be an appaling decision. Hume was left with a life-threatening head injury and is out for the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on a fractured skull after being the victim of an intentional elbow to the head by Morgan - a player with a history of violent actions. For me it was an irrational decision.

After this decision I have no faith in the FA acting on Arca's challenge - which thankfully did no serious damage.

12/21/2008 1:48 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Darkone, is that the only point you can make in relation to the article? My goodness. Can Mr Hackett give a thorough opinion without having been there actually at the moment? How much weight does his opinion carry? None.

The referees' in question aren't going to be pulled up on not granting penalties Mr Hackett deemed 'stonewall'.

The 'exceptional circumstances' phrase doesn't apply to penalties. Read further. Properly.

Anon, agree. Slow-motion highlights the incident all the more, where the eye can take in more points than it can at the speed of play.

T - the Morgan/Hume incident. I find that deplorable every time I hear about it. Just absolutely ridiculous. The FA declared there was no proof the contact was intentional why they will not intervene. They've sent others to the gallows for less, in front of them. You have footage from a clear angle and they refrain from getting involved. I would guess they wish to step back while Hume and/or Barnsley decide over legal action.

They most certainly, most certainly, should intervene in the Arca challenge and punish him. start having more of an authoritative hand in matters and make players aware their conduct is under heavy scrutiny.


12/21/2008 2:39 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

Nasty tackle indeed, but I don't think the FA will act.

12/21/2008 7:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice write-up mate. Being a fan of the big 4 didnt think it would bother you much but you must have heart in there somewhere. The F-All are spineless gits who sponge a salary off from paymasters and try to convince us they are doing a job. Dont get stuck in, dont do their job of stopping bad tackles, bad behaviour and the rest. That tackle was way over the top so how did the ref not see it to give it red?

When you look at how Ronaldo gets away with a kick out at Spurs you know they only act when they feel like. Funguson has riled them up chronic over Evra and his own outburst so he puts pressure on them to stop acting over Utd's dirty tactics. Best team in the world? Jesus, that's bullshit. That man comes like the godfather of football, mess with him at your peril. Only thing is he dont get you to sleep with the fishes, he gets moany and cries when he cant get it his way. Cant wait for utd to fall down, then the FA would be so scared to bloody act when bad things happen.

12/21/2008 7:20 pm


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