Woah, Football Association, slow down already, this is gold! Mere milliseconds following the ruling on Shaun Derry’s red card, we received word Balotelli would receive “no further punishment” from the FA with regard to his studs up challenge on Alex Song in Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal. The FA to their credit at least offers an explanation which was lacking in the Derry case:
Where at least one of the officials has seen the coming together of players retrospective action is not taken, regardless of whether they have seen the full extent of the challenge.
Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the Match Officials saw the players coming together. The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for ‘off the ball’ incidents.
Retrospective action was introduced for off the ball incidents where there was no contest for possession and could not be deemed to be re-refereeing an incident.
In agreement with FIFA, this is how ‘not seen’ incidents are dealt with retrospectively in England. It is a policy that is agreed with all football stakeholders.
Italics mine. So it is written, so it shall be done. The result here is that in English football it’s possible to see something without seeing it. Heavy. Still, you can understand why the decision was made this way. As Sam Wallace put it,
I think the problem here is that referees are afraid of having to adjudicate on retrospective decisions. They fear pariah status at clubs
— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) April 10, 2012
Referee Martin Atkinson was asked a question about what he saw on the day and didn’t lie. If the FA bends the rules regarding retrospective decisions in any way, it will allow for a whingy bonanza after every closely contested match. So even if a ref has seen a “bit”, it’s probably best to avoid any grey area.