Father of bitten Cavan footballer: 'Ban the biters for at least a year'
THE need for the GAA to review its rulebook to formally include biting an opponent as a specific offence is back under the spotlight, following an incident in Cavan which left former U-21 county star Simon Cadden with a severe ear injury.
Cadden, a 21-year-old student in UCD, is still receiving treatment for an ear wound he sustained while playing for his club Ramor United in a league game against Ballinagh in early May.
Ballinagh's Anthony Gaynor has been handed a five-month suspension, following an investigation by the Cavan County Board into the incident.
It comes eight weeks after Dublin defender, Kevin O'Brien was cleared of an alleged biting offence on Donegal's Paddy McBrearty during a National League game in Ballybofey in early April. O'Brien had a three-match ban proposed by the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee, but he contested the decision and was cleared by the Central Hearings Committee, who deemed the case "not proven." McBrearty was invited to the meeting but did not attend.
Biting is not mentioned specifically in the list of transgressions covered under GAA rules.
Instead, it is dealt with as a Category 3 offence under the heading: "inflicting injury recklessly by means other than those stated above."
They include kicking, stamping and head-butting. The minimum suspension for all offences in this category is eight weeks.
Simon Cadden's father Jim is now calling on the GAA to update their rulebook immediately, so that biting is included as a specific offence, carrying a minimum twelve-month suspension.
"Five months for biting is a pittance. It's a disgrace. Is five-months now to become the benchmark sentence for biting? No player should have to put up with being subjected to such a serious and despicable offence.
"The GAA rulebook used the word 'infraction' for various offences. That might be okay for lower range offences, but biting is a lot more serious than that. It has no place in any sport," he said.
Cadden revealed how his son spent several hours in Cavan General Hospital awaiting treatment on the night after he sustained the damage to his ear. He is due to return for further treatment in August.
"Apart from the severe injury to his ear, why should he have to put up with all that discomfort because he was bitten in a football game?
"The GAA has to act a lot tougher with biting. It's no use having it covered by some general rule or other which carries a minimum suspension of two months.
"It's not nearly enough. Biting has to be got rid of and the only way to do that is to make sure that the punishment fits the offence. Any player who bites an opponent should be on the sideline for at least a year," he said.
Cadden is also annoyed over the secrecy which has surrounded the case. The Cavan County Board is still refusing to issue the findings of their investigation publicly, claiming that it's general policy not to publish the outcome of disciplinary cases.
Cadden questioned why disciplinary hearings in the county are not made public.
He believes that the Board should issue the findings as soon as an investigation is concluded.
"Why the secrecy? The incident involving Simon was reported in the local and national media when it happened.
"A player was subsequently suspended, arising from an investigation, so why not come out and say who it is and how long the ban is for. That would be an open and transparent way to do business," he said.