In response to The FA retrospectively charging Diego Costa for violent conduct from the Chelsea-Liverpool League Cup semi-final on Tuesday, Costa has decided to contest the decision with the full backing of Chelsea Football Club. The charge is a result of the perceived intentional stamp by Costa on Liverpool’s Emre Can.
Now, the ball is in The FA’s court. The Football Association will want to make a decision before Friday night so that Costa’s fate is determined before the match against Manchester City on Saturday. Either way, the final outcome will be derided.
Whether or not the appeal is met favorably, Chelsea’s willingness to challenge the decision is bold, and makes a statement of intent to not take the FA decision lying down.
If Costa is banned for the next three matches, it’s clear why Chelsea fans will be disappointed, but for the integrity of English football, it’s more useful and far more important that we consider the Football Association’s decision to charge Costa and compare said decision to similar situations deemed unworthy of punishment.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Premier League clubs over the first seven months of the season, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few incidents which were missed by the man in the middle and left you scratching your head. ‘How did he get away with that?? Surely he’ll be sent off??‘ was probably your most likely reaction, and for good reason. The referees can’t always catch every incident, even if those watching from multiple camera angles with the luxury of replay can.
But that’s why we have the FA, right? They always punish fairly, aren’t motivated or influenced by press, clubs or managers and have the backing of all players and fans of English football alike. More than once this season, the FA has been the focus of many a joke (or rant, depending on the audience), as they have repeatedly failed to be the impartial, progressive and prestigious entity they should be.
If match officials during a game miss an incident, then The FA has the power to retrospectively review the incident and charge the player, which is what they did in this week’s Costa case.
However, The FA has been inconsistent in its decisionmaking. For example, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure escaped retrospective punishment last season for his stamp on Norwich’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The 3-person FA panel reviewed it but couldn’t agree that the stamp was intentional. Thus, no action was taken against Toure.
Regarding Costa’s apparent stamp on Emre Can, it could be argued that Costa was clumsy. Plus, as Gary Lineker points out, Costa wasn’t looking in the direction of Can, and it would be impossible to know if the stamp was intentional unless Costa admitted it.
Coupled with that, you have perceived agendas by members of the media who are perpetuating an anti-Chelsea bias and putting pressure on The FA to punish Costa. So much so that Jose Mourinho discussed it this week during a news conference where he discussed Jamie Redknapp’s “Diego Costa crimes” mantra.
Managers like former Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock, who expressed his frustrations at being afraid to speak about a missed call after a loss, for fear of being fined, to the famously outspoken Chelsea boss José Mourinho, who spoke of a campaign against Chelsea and then was fined, quite clearly illustrate the respect the FA feels it deserves. If English Football’s governing body feels it deserves respect, it needs to act impartially and confidently thus instilling the trust of the managers, players and, above all, fans.
In Diego Costa’s case, his reputation tends to precede him. Amid the myriad of articles about his on-field indiscretions, one has to wonder whether this has no bearing on the minds of those who would be scrutinizing his case. Is it safe to assume that the media has an influence on the FA? I would not hesitate to say yes. Still, Costas’s ban was for a stamp on Emre Can which, at the time, appeared unintentional and has received arguably less scrutiny from the media than a similar infraction on Skrtel.
For the integrity of the game to remain, the FA needs to be held accountable. There needs to be a legitimate sense among fans of the sport and those who make it their profession, that the governing body of their beloved game is unbiased and, most importantly, operating with their best interest in mind.
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