Punish the Referee?
Another broken leg in the EPL, this time to Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa, and the FA is — according to more than one press report— likely to take action against the referee! As Angus would say, Holy Cow, people!!
The perpetrator, Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong, broke the leg of USA’s Stuart Holden in a “friendly” last spring, and infamously stuck his studs into Xabi Alonso’s chest in the World Cup Final in July. He stayed on the pitch in all three cases, although Howard Webb now claims he’d have sent him off in the Final if he had a better view of the incident. No retroactive punishment has been forthcoming in these rather obvious cases of maiming, due to a FIFA rule that the ref on the pitch is ….. God or something: retroactive punishment apparently requires a court order. Which means if you get “done” by an obvious but unobserved (by the referee) criminal act, you just have to take your lumps, bruises, and shattered bones. Perhaps the cops will intervene and prompt the FA to take action, as in the case of Pedro Mendez who is lucky to have a partial set of teeth after an elbow from Man City’s Ben Thatcher a few years back. But Ben Arfa’s leg was broken not by an elbow with clear intent, but a reckless tackle which the local magistrate has little or no ability to distinguish from a fair one.
FIFA: you are fucking nuts. Same with the FA. You’ve got an arachic rule here, so get rid of it. Video technology is perfectly capable of delivering criminal evidence. Do you not use it to ban unruly fans from attending future matches, for years? Then use it to keep thugs from wiping out the talent that we want to see on the pitch.
But no. Since referee Martin Atkinson admits to having seen the tackle, but not deeming it worthy of punishment at the time, he is likely to be demoted from the EPL to the “Championship” (one rung down the league ladder ) for the next set of fixtures. That’s what the papers say. England could take a lesson here from MLB and Jim Joyce, I think. Umpires do miss calls you know, like Webb did in the World Cup Final. But FIFA has no intention of sitting him down for a match.
Seriously, FA, look at the video again, take action, and tell FIFA to take a hike. You might get a slap on the wrist, but it would be worth it.