On Tuesday, the Football Association announced it would not take action against Mario Balotelli for his studs-up challenge on Alexandre Song's shin during Manchester City's 1-0 weekend loss at Arsenal.
The FA stated referee Martin Atkinson had "seen the coming together of players", so they could not take retrospective action against City's Italian striker.
By that virtue, Atkinson has seen one player endanger another player's career, but did not merit it to be a red card. Open season.
Balotelli's challenge on Song:
To compound another disastrous PR day for the FA, they revealed they would not overturn QPR captain Shaun Derry's red card picked up against Manchester United on Sunday. This despite many football folk agreeing Ashley Young - the victim - had fallen theatrically under minimal contact.
They are restricted by Fifa in its scope over retrospective punishments, and although other European nations have different systems and, in some cases, impose greater penalties on players for red cards, all of them work under the same restrictions on retrospective action.
Which means it is not the first time the FA have got things very very wrong...
BEN THATCHER KNOCKS OUT PEDRO MENDES, AUGUST 2006
Referee Dermot Gallagher saw someone elbow a fellow professional and knock them out cold, but deemed it only a booking. The FA, even though Gallagher had taken action, gave Ben Thatcher an eight-match ban because of the special circumstances. So why have the goalposts since changed? Had Balotelli broken Song's leg, would he have been let off the hook?
CHRIS MORGAN'S ELBOW ON IAIN HUME, NOVEMBER 2008
Possibly. Since Morgan was not retrospectively charged for fracturing Hume's skull because referee Andy D'Urson saw the incident. Like Balotelli's farcical juxtaposition with Derry, a month later Manchester United defender Patrice Evra was banned for four games a month later following post-match handbags with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.
WAYNE ROONEY ELBOWS JAMES MCCARTHY, FEBRUARY 2011
Again, the referee (Mark Clattenburg) witnessed the offence. Rooney didn't even get booked either, so the FA, in their misguided eagerness for retribution, opened a can of worms a month later...
WAYNE ROONEY BANNED TWO MATCHES FOR SWEARING, MARCH 2011
When they banned Rooney for swearing. Sir Alex Ferguson claimed referee Lee Mason was pressurised into stating he would have sent the United striker off in his match report, had he seen the incident, by the FA. It was telling that a statement did not appear on the English football body's website countering the claim.
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