After #BUNCHOFTWATS-gate broke last week it was inevitable that everyone’s favourite diminutive panto-villain would end up being charged by both club and country. Although there are many at Chelsea who no doubt agree with Ashley Cole’s sentiment, the overriding consensus was that it was not the preferred execution of such a statement and broke the club’s social networking policy.
Chelsea took away Cole’s car keys before telling him he’d be without two week’s salary for interrupting Roberto Di Matteo’s presser. When you consider the incident in isolation the punishment seems reasonable enough…but what about when you consider it alongside other punishments? For Chelsea – an irresponsible tweet equals £240K – only £10K less than if Cole had did something as drastic as shooting a work experience student. I mean interns are easily replaced, but still…
The FA followed Chelsea’s lead, as the #BUNCHOFTWATS charged Ashley Cole with ‘bringing the entire game into disrepute’. THE ENTIRE GAME! Who knew you could master that in 140 characters with some questionable grammar? Despite the accuracy of Cole’s statement-and it arguably being one of the nicer things uttered about the ever-competent FA-it’s not something you can really say about your employer and not have them respond. And their timing could not be better.
What could, and should, have been a busy day of passing judgement on a number of well documented incidents, wasn’t, as the FA were too busy patting themselves on the back about #BUNCHOFTWATS-gate that they failed to act upon anything else that happened over the weekend.
Perhaps after Alan Pardew’s regular attacks on match officials, it’s understandable the FA did not take his word about the off-the-ball incident involving Robin van Persie and Yohan Cabaye that has attracted a lot of attention. The little matter of video evidence that the FA love to retroactively punish the odd rogue before he gets shipped off to France (Not naming any names of course…) didn’t seem to matter too much in this case thanks to Howard Webb.
Sir Howard of Webb was ‘mysteriously’ given the task of overseeing Manchester United’s match and had a shocker. You could say that it was shocking that he didn’t even flinch about Robin van Persie’s errant elbow/forearm/clothesline on Yohan Cabaye – some will argue that if it were any other referee, there would have at least been a steward’s enquiry, especially since it isn’t the first time RvP’s elbow seems to have developed a mind of its own and allowed someone else to head-butt it.
Possibly more shocking was the neglected stomp on Tom Cleverley’s leg by Cheick Tiote, which he followed by arguably one of the most amazing tantrums to be witnessed since the golden tantrum years of Ronaldo. Of course tit-for-tat and all that, so on the balance fans will live with it, but the United edition wasn’t the only match that had ‘incident’ did not warrant any form of retroactive punishment in the eyes of the FA. Luis Suarez continued his ode to Tom Daley whilst Robert Huth opted to show Suarez’ chest what he thought of his performance.
Some crimes never seem to see retroactive punishment and the art of the dive seems to be one of those…and we haven’t even mentioned Gareth Bale, which was perhaps the most ridiculous dive of the weekend – not that Paul Lambert complained about it (mind was probably preoccupied with another loss and his Norwich tribunal).
Has Tony Pulis finally made a valid point as he lobbies just about anyone who’ll listen on bans for players who dive? Pulis could not be reached for comment for his stance on stamping, rash challenges, and unsporting behaviour…
With all that said, what kind of action is it that really brings the game into disrepute?
Unprofessional texts? Maybe. Chelsea equated the rule break to that of shooting an intern. If the FA really want to maintain their reputation, they not only need to punish someone for the tweet that hurt their feelings – but should consider action against diving, stamping, flying elbows, and referees refusing to admit they made a mistake – inconsistency is often a criticism aimed at referee’s, but the FA in this case are just as bad. The FA’s inaction has left the game in more disrepute than any tweet could have.