If you haven’t heard or seen it by now, Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli kept his boot up and his studs exposed as he lunged at Arsenal’s Alex Song in a 1-0 defeat for City against Arsenal on Sunday that is sure to have ended City’s hopes of their first title in nearly 50 years.
I think it’s fair to say that most in the footballing world thought the FA would punish Balotelli harshly for his tackle on Song for many obvious reasons. First and foremost, everyone in the stadium knew what happened aside from the two most important people of course, the linesman and the referee (the terrible job of which most FA refs have done all season is a story for a later date).
Refs these days have their performances dissected by a governing body as well having the ability to self-assess through video review. While retrospective in-game punishment would be silly, it’s my view that the FA should be responsible for assessing punishment fitting the crime retrospectively following the match.
In a shocking display from the FA, Balotelli’s challenge on Song went unpunished because “at least one official saw the challenge in the game.” And by FA rule, “retrospective action can only be taken when none of the officials saw the challenge.” The FA cites this is normal and coherent with FIFA policy on “off the ball incidents.”
Had they retrospectively assessed Balotelli’s challenge to be worthy of a red-card, the Italian would have been served with a potential nine match ban. I think if you watched the game, and particularly his actions throughout the game, it reflected a mood in which you thought Balotelli was actually trying to be sent off. The decision not to give this player even an additional game suspension just further damages the credibility The FA have with me on matters of disciplinary actions.
Balotelli lunges into the knee of an integral player for the opposing team, makes contact after the intent is visibly clear for all to see, and he gets off scot free? Meanwhile, the FA retrospectively charged Wayne Rooney with a 3 match ban for discernibly cursing (on camera) after single-handedly orchestrating a comeback from 2-0 down at the Boleyn Ground?
And as a United fan, just to prove to you that this particular point is club-neutral, Wayne Rooney should have retrospectively been punished for his lunge from behind at a QPR midfielder after the ball had gone. It was senseless and petulant (and know that I write that through gritted teeth because I have documented ammo that just about quantifies The FA’s near obvious hatred of United).
Until the FA gets a sensible, fair, and obviously universal disciplinary protocol, I expect more asinine decisions like this one to come from England’s governing body.