FA CUP Weekend
With the embarrassment of the FA Cup Semi Finals behind us, fans and pundits alike are not only left to ask how opposing fans were thrown together amongst a supposedly neutral allocation of Wembley seats, but how Sergio Aguero has been able to escape punishment for a two-footed lunge which should have seen him banned from the final.
Without doubt, the scenes witnessed towards the end of Wigan’s semi-final against Millwall on Saturday evening were some of the most embarrassing the English game has experienced in recent years. Broadcast live for the world to see, pockets of violence broke out throughout the tie, but would burst into life at the final whistle, with police being tasked with separating a torrent of thrown fists and general thuggery. The tears of young fans were captured for the tabloid papers to exploit and football once again took a back seat to the mindless idiocy of the ‘small minority’.
24 hours after the first FA Cup Semi Final and despicable violence disappeared from the stands, only to be replaced on the pitch, as Sergio Aguero found himself angered by his fellow South American and chose to lunge with a two footed tackle which could have brought serious injury to Chelsea’s enigmatic centre back, David Luiz. With the referee acknowledging and yet failing to even reveal the yellow card to the Manchester City striker, Sergio Aguero has unsurprisingly escaped any further punishment.
Whilst it is a common failure of the media to too quickly point the finger at games’ governing body, it seems almost impossible to shy away from placing the blame at the feet of the FA, when their ticket allocation system and retrospective banning regulations have effectively left both issues unresolved and likely to happen again.
FA CUP Fans
Though it would be wrong to shy away from highlighting the faces of those responsible for the brutality witnessed on Saturday, one has to question the likelihood that those involved were all supporting The Lions, as was first thought. While the club has an unwanted reputation of terrace hooliganism, early suggestion amongst the fans seems to point to the fact that many Wigan and Millwall supporters were sandwiched in a supposed ‘neutral’ zone, with the Premier League club failing to sell a large portion of their allocated tickets. Although this far from justifies the violence seen on the weekend, it goes a long way to explain it. It also goes a long way to uncover the incompetence that allowed it to happen in the first place.
FA Cup Players
Of course, fans of English football have grown accustomed to the outdated methods and mindboggling rulings of the FA. Sergio Aguero’s ability to play in the final is further evidence of such failings, with the now laughably outdated ruling regarding retrospective punishments meaning that, if a referee didn’t see an incident, it effectively didn’t happen.
For the sake of making a point, let’s suggest that Aguero’s two footed lunge came with clear malice (I think this point could be fairly argued as is), that the challenge saw studs tear through flesh and forcibly break bone. If the referee had seen the incident and made the incorrect decision that there was nothing intentional in it, should Aguero still be allowed to go on his merry way? Without making too fine a point, it is a failure to sanction players correctly which will enable them and provide them with the impetus to act in the same manner in future games.
What makes matters worse, is that the referee himself will not be given the same benefit of the doubt during the consideration of his own potential suspension from the games’ highest tier. Such an incident could still be used by the FA to rule that the referee should be demoted to the lower leagues for a set period. This only serves to highlight the clear duality, confusion and sheer ignorance of such a ruling.
For clarity, let’s take a look at the rule book and make sure we have got things in the right context. Verbatim, the ruling reads that:
“Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken … regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge.”
Sadly, this places the game of football in the same category as WWE wrestling. The villainous wrestler could win in an underhanded manner. The loaded fist, the pull of the tights or the dreaded steel chair. As long as the referee didn’t see it, a win is a win. But, the reality is that this isn’t fake wrestling. This is a real sport, where real actions have real consequences. Or at least, they should have.
One is left to wonder whether our increasingly idiotic governing body thinks of consequences. They see the same incidents occur again and again. Whether on the pitch or off the pitch, actions could have been taken to avoid violence, both prior to and after the fact. Perhaps acting now could ensure that the weekend of FA Cup embarrassment need not happen again.
As always, we eagerly await your comments.