Balotelli Decision Reveals Inefficiencies in FA Post-Match Disciplinary Process

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.

13 thoughts on “Balotelli Decision Reveals Inefficiencies in FA Post-Match Disciplinary Process”

  1. It has nothing to do with the FA, it is a FIFA ruling, learn the facts/rules before wasting time on articles like this.

  2. Balotelli decision? More like Derry decision. Where is your vitriol there?

    Your writing clearly shows a bias toward so called “integral players” if not United itself. A foul is a foul and an offense is an offense. It does not matter if Balotelli committed it on Song or on a youth team player in his first game. It does not matter that Rooney “singlehandedly orchestrated a comeback.” For someone who wants the rules applied in a “sensible, fair, and obviously universal” manner this should be obvious.

  3. The biggest issue I have with this is that everyone and their dog was discussing the possibility (probability?) of Balotelli getting as many as 9 matches for this, on top of his other red card incidents.

    How can everybody be so out to lunch on the ruling? If this were the NHL or NFL, I can assure you that one of the talking heads would have provided chapter and verse as to whether or not it was reviewable, and if so what rules (numbered and sub-sectioned) were in play, complete with potential and likely consequences. Here, all those same talking heads seem totally unaware that the incident wasn’t even eligible for review. How can this be?

    Regardless of what you think of the FA (and we’ve had enough of these hot spots pop up that all of us have an opinion) the most obvious thing we can learn from this is that they do a piss-poor job of making their rules known to outsiders. Considering how many billions are being made, it seems stupid of them to not do a better job of informing the media about how they work.

    The Balotelli incident should have been extinguished at halftime, not left to blaze up and leave supporters disgruntled and building conspiracy theories about how decisions get made in football.


  4. It was an unnecessarily strict interpretation of the fifa rule by the FA. They made it clear that neither official saw the entire incident, specifically the contact on Song. They claim that if an official sees any part of an incident, they can’t retrospectively punish for *anything*, which is a ridiculous stance, and not in line with fifa.

  5. Is there a single governing body in this sport that isn’t a complete joke?

    In the span of a week we have UEFA punishing Arsene Wenger’s criticism of a referee more harshly than Porto’s racist chanting at Balotelli; and The FA punishing Shaun Derry’s “foul” of an offside Ashley Young more harshly than Balotelli’s near leg breaking tackle.

    At this point I just expect FIFA, UEFA, The FA, etc. to take the most absurd position imaginable.

    1. Seminole Gunner, unfortunately it all starts at the top — which is FIFA, a corrupt and inefficient organization filled with fuddy duddies. They set the tone for the other football associations around the world. Most of them are out of touch with reality.

      The Gaffer

    2. The Guardian reported today Man City were fined £24,740 for coming out late in the 2nd half against Sporting in last month’s Europa League match.

      Porto only got fined £16,700 for the racial abuse of Man City……WTF

  6. So Suarez gets 8 games for responding to an ethnocentric taunt by Evra, and Balotelli gets a default three game ban for the red card he got after two yellows, and nothing for the cardless but reckless, stud first, body cringing foul in the Arsenal game. Some rule needs to be changed to allow that challenge go unpunished.

  7. I get the old useless rules that the FA follow (from FIFA) but they need to introduce additional rules for the good of the league.
    Since one ref/official saw the incident why hasn’t the FA fined or demoted that official? That official saw a potential career ending tackle and did nothing which if true is terrible. That official should be demoted to a lower league for a season.

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