Middlesbrough’s Jérémie Aliadière, the man with the last name that takes me 73 tries to pronounce correctly, had his red card appeal denied today on the grounds of its “frivolous” nature and his ban increased from three to four games.
This is one of the biggest farces I’ve seen all season.
I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories suggesting that the Premier League publicly wants the “Big Four” to finish in the top four, so I don’t believe that this is a case of Middlesbrough being harshly done by and Liverpool escaping without penalty simply because they are Middlesbrough and Liverpool.
With that said, this is simply outrageous. Aliadière should NEVER have been sent off in the first place. Sorry, the “violent conduct” section in FIFA, UEFA, and the FA’s rules dealing with this sort of thing shouldn’t apply to what Aliadière did; it should be reserved for actually striking or punching, or attempting to punch, an opponent in a malicious manner. This was nothing more than a light tap on the face, so I don’t buy the red card for a second.
Not only do I not buy the red card though, I have a problem with the way match referee Lee Mason handled the situation. First of all, Aliadière was responding to Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano putting his hand on the Frenchman’s mouth in a muzzling, shut-your-mouth-type manner. If you’re going to send Aliadière off, then surely Mascherano should’ve been dismissed as well since he instigated the whole thing to begin with.
Coaches always say that it’s not the first one that gets caught, it’s the retaliation. That certainly proved to be true in this instance.
As a referee myself, I would’ve handled the situation much differently. This is a professional game we’re talking about here, a match in one of the top leagues in the world. We’re not talking about kids, where sportsmanship and safety and all those things are more important than winning. Liverpool are battling for every point they can get to climb back into the 4th spot, and Boro need every point they can get to feel safe from relegation. Understandably, emotions were running high as Boro were frustrated that they were losing. If I would’ve been in charge, both players would’ve been called over, warned, and that’s it, end of story, let’s move on. No need to hand out cards, certainly not a red card, and especially not a red card to one player and not both. It takes two to tango, does it not?
To make matters worse, Aliadière had his already unfair suspension increased by another game. He’ll now have to sit out Boro’s next four matches, including their FA Cup Fifth Round replay and potential FA Cup quarterfinal, and that’s a big blow to that club’s attack. Aliadière doesn’t score many goals, but his pace opens up space on the field for others to run into and he’s a pretty decent passer of the ball. Meanwhile, Javier Mascherano gets off scot-free, even though the referee’s assistant had a clear view of what went on and could easily have recommended a booking for the Argentine.
Boro chief executive Keith Lamb was rightly upset at the decision, branding it “a travesty of justice.”
Lamb also said, “We are furious and totally astounded that the commission, without consultation, should consider our appeal to be frivolous. Who are they to know our minds when we made this appeal? We are appalled at the decision and the entire process. How can nameless, faceless people on a commission decide that our genuine claim for equality and justice be dealt with in such a flippant manner? It is a disgraceful comment to suggest our claim was frivolous. We agonised over it before deciding to submit a claim for wrongful dismissal.”
Good for you Mr. Lamb, you have every right to be incensed with this mockery of a ruling.