Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Process v. Justice in FA Disciplinary Rulings

Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been hit with a 10-game suspension by the FA for biting, yes biting, an opposing player (the second time in his career he has done it) (see here). Even a strong statement of support for Suarez from the world's other famous athlete-biter Mike Tyson (here) could not ameliorate his sentence.

Compare the recent case of Manchester City's Sergio "Kun" Aguero, who was not penalized at all for a blatantly intentional two-foot stomp on the backside of Chelsea defender David Luiz (see here). According to the FA, it had no jurisdiction to review the episode because the referee claimed that he saw what happened. (see here). And the referee's decision not to penalize Aguero is final. Clearly, the referee did not see it well enough.

Is a bite worse than a kick in the ass? Well, the biter is out for 10 games, while the stomper gets no penalty, and all because of a single, dubious procedural distinction: in one case, the referee did not see the incident and, in the other, the referee claimed to have seen the incident (but failed to adequately assess it). Such a difference in outcomes based on the slender reed of what the referee did or did not see and assess makes an ass of the FA, and leads to unjustly inconsistent outcomes across similar cases.

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