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Adebayor Punishment Unjust.


Emmanuel Adebayor has been handed a £25,000 fine and a suspended 2-match ban today by the FA. The punishment relates to his excessive celebration following the goal he scored against Arsenal back on the 12th of September. For me, this represents yet another bungle from one of football’s governing bodies, similar to the ban Eduardo was given by UEFA for “simulation” which has since been rescinded on appeal.

I am not for a moment trying to defend what Adebayor did. As the player acknowledged immediately following the game, to deliberately goad the supporters of the team you are playing is irresponsible, undignified and just not what football is all about. Having been showered with abuse throughout the game, Adebayor was entitled to thoroughly enjoy his goal against Arsenal, it was after all the perfect response to his critics. However in running the full length of the pitch to taunt the Arsenal fans, he lowered himself to the level of the foul-mouthed fans, and merely fueled accusations that he does not always draw motivation from the right sources. Adebayor is not the first player to celebrate a goal in front of opposition fans, and he will certainly not be the last, but his actions were regrettable and he spoiled what could have been a wonderful day for him.

However, although I do not wish to see players willfully inciting unrest amongst fans, I am also keen to see consistency applied by football’s governing bodies. Otherwise, the laws which control the game is played will be eroded to the point of ineffectiveness. Mark Clattenburg gave Adebayor a yellow card for his goal celebration during the game. Therefore, the referee saw the event and administered the punishment he felt was necessary, and that should be the end of the story. In imposing a suspended 2-match ban, the FA are not only effectively saying that the referee got that decision wrong, but crucially are intervening in order to “restore order”.


In response to this, I return to the point I made in relation to the ban Eduardo initially received for diving against Celtic during a Champions League qualifier; reversing in-game refereeing decisions makes a mockery of every instance in the past where a referee’s punishment has been shown to be inadequate by TV evidence but the relevant governing body has claimed to be powerless. The significance is, in imposing a retrospective punishment, the FA have in Adebayor’s undermined the official who refereed the game.

In 2005, an awful challenge by Michal Essien was punished by referee Rob Styles with a yellow card. Essien is not a particularly dirty player, but his challenge on that occasion was very dangerous. Having reviewed video footage of the incident, Styles was keen to impose a red card instead of yellow, but FIFA actually intervened to prevent this from happening. There are plenty of other examples just like this one.

Manchester City are not set to appeal the decision, and are probably just happy enough to have Adebayor back in action at the weekend. And as long as the Man City striker keeps his nose clean until Christmas, he’ll only have to pay £25,000, which (crazily) is not a lot of money for him. But I am concerned by the FA’s decision, I think they have shown themselves to be weak in the face of a public outcry. I don’t think Adebayor can be held responsible for the behaviour of the fans who injured a steward in response to his celebration, and as much as footballers do get paid these days, I also think it is important to remember that they are human. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of his time at Arsenal and based purely on what went on during the game itself, had we been in his position ourselves, I’m pretty sure most of us would have felt compelled to give a little back. Therefore although what he did was wrong, for me the incident did not warrant the lack of consistency shown by the FA.

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  1. Luca Helvetica

    October 7, 2009 at 9:51 am

    He was booked for time wasting which was why he was able to be charged for the celebration.

  2. brn442

    October 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Excessive celebration? Did Adebayor leave the pitch at any point? Did he gesture the fans in a threatening or “disrespectful” manner? I’m not being naive; the player knew exactly what he was doing when he covered more yards in that run than probably many an entire match as a gunner. It was a stupid, silly thing to do but 99% of the blame should go to those so-called fans.

    Football fans have no problem saying the vilest things to footballers or opposing supporters but when they occasionally get as good as they give, they’re all of a sudden treated like a bunch of disabled orphans.

    If they’re old and “responsible” enough to have a job, pay taxes, buy a match ticket and travel from London to Manchester, they should be able to handle idiotic actions by a player without descending into barbarism.

    • Lyle

      October 3, 2009 at 6:57 pm

      I don’t even think his celebration was stupid or idiotic.

  3. Lyle

    October 3, 2009 at 2:37 am

    I don’t think Adebayor did anything wrong. It’s the fans who are the problem. They take it all too seriously and can’t handle a bit of stick from the players. Adebayor is a good natured fellow and was not trying to start anything. All he did was run off toward the away fans and slide in front of them. Oh. My. God.

  4. Kenny

    October 2, 2009 at 10:47 am

    weren’t you the one who said he should be banned from English soil for life?

    now it’s too much?

    John Kerry flip flop if i’ve ever seen one

  5. Melanie

    October 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

    The point here I think is that England truly intend to push for FIFA 2018 and any indication that the fans are causing trouble like they did back in the bad old days will be a real problem. By blaming Adebayor for the Arsenal fans reactions, it takes the focus off the way the fans themselves behaved in the international media

  6. Geoff Wright

    October 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm


    I had a check online, and you’re absolutely right of course.

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake, I’ve corrected the article.

    • oliver

      October 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

      how could you forget Mourinho going on for days about how Essien was found guilty of “Trial by Sky Sports” 🙂

      I think the tackle you remember was against Bolton where he should have been sent off but got a yellow

      • GW

        October 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

        I’ve clearly deliberately wiped Mourinho’s verbal diarrhoea from my mind (that or I’m just forgetful!).

  7. b

    October 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Well, first off a suspended ban is really no ban at all. So this isn’t too terribly harsh.

    But secondly, I don’t buy the argument that if the ref “only” gave a yellow card the league can’t do anything else. What other options did the ref really have? He can’t exactly give a red card for this. And it’s not like the ref can say “here’s your yellow card and a three match ban, good sir.”

    So as far as the game play goes, the ref gives an entirely appropriate yellow. And then the league says it was behavior unbecoming a professional and hands out extra punishment, since it really was an incident unrelated to game play.

    And frankly, he got off lucky. Should’ve been yellow carded for any number of stomps/studs up challenges in that match, making his asinine celebration his second yellow.

    Comparing this to Eduardo is really apples and oranges, though. That involved game play and specifically an offense that, had the ref spotted it, would’ve been only a yellow card. So it was always silly to think something that’s a yellow should be given an additional suspension just because the ref didn’t see it. You can argue that diving in the box should be a red card, but you can’t just up the punishment out of the blue and apply it to Eduardo only.

  8. oliver

    October 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    “I vividly remember an awful challenge my Michael Essien on Dietmar Hamann during another Champions League game. Essien is not a particularly dirty player, but his challenge on that occasion could have easily broken Hamann’s leg. It was late, hard and almost certainly malicious. But the referee spotted it at the time and gave a yellow card. This meant that rather than set a precedent and undermine a decision made by a referee during a game, UEFA were unwilling to impose any further punishment on Essien. There are plenty of other examples just like this one.”

    How vividly do you remember this? The referee gave nothing and UEFA banned Essien for 2 matches afterwards. He missed both legs of the knockout stage

  9. Alex Caulfield

    October 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Agreed, a well-written piece that articulately explains the complicated dynamics of this situation.

  10. Daniel

    October 1, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    You only have to look at how Tevez celebrated his goal against West Ham to see how a professional should behave. Adebayor’s attitude in general represents everything that is wrong with football these days. When money over passion and loyalty is the driving force behind the game, then we have lost all that is precious in the beautiful game. That is not to say Adebayor is to be made a scapegoat for this but instead gives us a backdrop to the events that occured. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t simply a case of Adebayor celebrating in front of the visiting fans but instead running the full length of the pitch to deliberately incite and provoke fans who had a well-documented falling out with the player. To say this was unwise is an understatement. In essence Adebayor is guilty for bringing the game into disrepute. He is, like all professional footballers, a role model for children and his punishment is neccesary even if it’s just to send out the right message. The difference between this incident and Eduardos suspected simulation is that there can be no doubts or confusion as to what Adebayor was doing and his motivation. Whereas with Eduardo Uefa cannot say with any surety whether there was contact with the goalkeeper Boruc or not. Nor can Uefa know what were the motivating factors behind Eduardos fall, particularly when you consider the player had a career threatening challenge less than 2 years ago; he could be forgiven for wanting to avoid collision. In the end, all we can hope for is that the FA have done enough, and Adebayor now behaves like the professional his much sought after pay-cheque deserves.

    • nomorespinsports

      October 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm

      Where do I begin? I’m usually not this mean-spirited, but I’ll make an exception here.

      “When money over passion and loyalty is the driving force behind the game, then we have lost all that is precious in the beautiful game.” That train left the station years ago. Do you want the sport to be a charity whose only purpose is to have fun? Idealistic much?

      “He is, like all professional footballers, a role model for children.” You actually wrote that? We need to move away from the idea that professional athletes are role models. They aren’t. All they are are human beings with lots of athletic ability. That has nothing to do with being a role model for children. By the way, the word professional has to do with getting paid to do something not with being an upstanding citizen.

      Yes, he deserved a yellow card for his excessive celebration. But he doesn’t deserve anything more. He’s not responsible for the Stone Age actions of opposing supporters. The idiotic supporters are responsible for their own actions and should serve time in jail for injuring another person. People should have the right to act like jerks, they shouldn’t be held criminally responsible for inciting violent Neanderthals. I know this has nothing to do with the FA, but I thought I would put it out there anyway. Personally, any football supporter who resorts to violence should have the hammer of the law brought down upon them as harshly as possible.

      • Jay

        October 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

        Adebayors action got that person hurt. Had he not ran across the length of the pitch nothing would have happened. Everybodys club has jerk supporters, doesnt give you an excuse to taunt and anger the crowd. This guy is making too much money to stoop down to the level of the fans.

        • nomorespinsports

          October 1, 2009 at 7:42 pm

          Yes, if he had not celebrated as he did, the Arsenal supporters wouldn’t have lost their minds. But the fault lies in 99% with those idiots, and 1% with Adebayor. Those supporters are not robots, and are the only ones responsible for injuring another person. Arsenal supporters got made fun of by an opposing player, poor poor pitiful them.

          But I agree with you that he did not need to stoop to that level.

        • Lyle

          October 3, 2009 at 2:43 am

          I think giving stick back to the crowd is perfectly acceptable, as long as it’s not malicious stick.

  11. nikesb

    October 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    waits for arsenal fans to curse a man for having an opinion…..

  12. Peter

    October 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Now I may sound cynical here but perhaps Arsenal got away with Eduardo’s ban and Man City are being punished because Arsenal are a top 4 team with a massive history and Man City in the FA’s eyes are not (however at the end of this season they will be, mark my words.)

    Lets not forget that all Adebayor did was run over to his former team’s fans to celebrate a goal. As far as I am concerned a player can do what he wants for his celebration when he score (as long as he stays within the laws of the land) and Adebayor is entitled to incite them as it was the fans who turned on him and all he is showing them is that they were dreadfully wrong. However if the F.A think this will stop Man City going top of the table they obviously haven’t seen who we have as back-up!

    Also, before a load of Arsenal supporters come on and say abusive comments to me, remember this is just my opinion!

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