FA needs more common sense after Aliadiere affair

February 27, 2008

Many pubgoers get a bit overzealous on an evening and hands are sometimes raised, but it doesn’t force them out of the next four Friday nights on the town.

In contrast, Middlesbrough striker Jeremie Aliadiere earned a three-game suspension for his exchange of handbags with Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano, before the ban was extended to four matches after the FA rejected Boro’s “frivolous” appeal.

Boro chairman Steve Gibson has branded the FA “amateurs and silly little men” while chief executive Keith Lamb is “furious and astounded” at the lengthening of the ban.

Punishing a genuine appeal – Mascherano did in fact grab the Boro player’s face prior to Aliadiere’s petulant slap – gives the impression the FA simply doesn’t want the hassle of dealing with such pleas and sets a worrying precedent.

Their decision is also inconsistent. As Lamb pointed out, Chelsea appealed a similar decision against Michael Essien last November and although it was dismissed, he was not punished further.

The greater problem lies in the “you can’t raise your hands” line that means referees feel they have to show red cards for any little slap or poke.

Did Aliadiere’s transgression initially deserve the same punishment as Martin Taylor’s clumsy and far more damaging lunge on Eduardo? Certainly not.

If officials are allowed to give attackers the benefit of the doubt in a tight offside call then they should be permitted to use common sense when faced with a mere slap.

Like with most disciplinary procedures, the FA could do worse than speak to their counterparts in rugby or more particularly watch a re-run of Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Scotland at the weekend.

An hour after Aliadiere saw red, the more powerful flailing arm of Scotland’s Nathan Hines caught Denis Leamy while the Scots attempted to take a quick penalty on the Irish line. A reversal of the penalty was deemed sufficient with a letter of the law sin-binning not necessary.

Common sense, simple common sense….

Padraic Halpin, London


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I don’t think we have had a day in sport with two such great quotes.Gibson calling the FA ‘silly little men’ and Aussie cricketer Matthew Hayden labelling India’s Harbhajan Singh an ‘obnoxious weed’.
Gibson probably has a point in this instance, I have no idea about Hayden.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

You seem to fail to realize an important difference between the red card Taylor received and the one Aliadiere received. Aliadiere was sent off for a second yellow card offense, as opposed to a straight red card. He played 60 minutes with that yellow card, and amidst a Middlesbrough team that has the worst disciplinary record of any team in the Premier League. Perhaps the extension wasn’t deserved, but there can be little doubt that both yellows were deserved given the letter of the law. Mascherano also should have received a yellow card at least though.

Posted by Bryan | Report as abusive

I havent seen the incident unfortunatley but if Aliadiere put his hands up, under the rules it is violent conduct so it has to be a straight red.
You could maybe give a yellow for unsporting behaviour but it is a grey area. Maybe, as Padraic says with the rugby example, refs should not show any card for an incident like that if it is just basic handbags with no malice, when they both did it to each other

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

The letter of the law should not always be exercised to the extreme. Common sense should be applied in my view. With regards to the Alliadiere incident, as he had already been booked the referee was left with no alternative but to send him off. What I would say is that in other games, people have been shown a straight red for a similar action – handbags are apart of football.

As for the additional ban, that is ridiculous. It was hardly a savage attack!

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

Bryan, looking back it does read like I overlooked that fact and my gripe with the lack of consistency lies – like you say – in the fact that Aliadiere got a yellow, but Mascherano did not. I still do think that common sense should be used in disciplinary procedures but thanks for the clarifying post.

Posted by Padraic Halpin | Report as abusive

I am okay with the punishment meted out to Aliadiere but there is a double standard in dealing with appeals.

In most cases, clubs will not expect appeals to work as a large number of successful appeals will undermine the authority and judgments of referees. The appeal could just be a matter of principle and to register some unhappiness.

Lengthening the ban in this case is ridiculous. The FA should not use such a tactic to discourage appeals.

Posted by JohnST | Report as abusive


I do agree with you on the point that the FA could use more common sense. This is one of many situations where they have cocked up what should have been a simple situation. Unfortunately for fans of smaller clubs like Middlesbrough, Gibson lacks the proper Scottish accent that seems to draw a response out of the FA.

Posted by Bryan | Report as abusive

I feel that the FA are completely out of touch.
The week before an Arsenal player Kicked Nani of Manchester United, FA’s decision “NO action to be taken”
The liverpool game. A Liverpool player grabs the face of an Aston Villa player, the Villa Player retaliates by appearing to slap the liverpool player. ” IF it was a red card BOTH players should have walked”
Somebody should actually CHARGE the FA with
” Bringing the game into disrepute”
When are we going to get rid of the geriatric committees in the FA and have forward thinking younger people.

Posted by Peter Digney | Report as abusive

The same happened to Burnley this season, they challenged a decision and the ban was extended from 3 to 4 games. Now Owen Coyle won’t attempt to challenge bans to the fear of they’ll be called “frivolous” and the ban gets extended!

Posted by winning-is-everything | Report as abusive