Wednesday 22 November 2017

FA and Sepp Blatter at odds over Wayne Rooney incident

Jeremy Wilson

The Football Association and leading match officials yesterday disputed the claim of Fifa president Sepp Blatter that retrospective disciplinary action was permitted at the discretion of each national association.

Wayne Rooney controversially escaped any sanction last week for his elbow on Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy after referee Mark Clattenburg told the FA that he had seen the coming together between the two players.

The FA says it cannot impose any sanction when an incident has already been dealt with by the referee but, according to Blatter, there was scope for action.

“This is up to the discretion of the national association,” Blatter said. “They can use video evidence in the discipline and control committee. If there’s violence the national association can intervene and punish a player - this is permitted.”

The FA and the Professional Game Match Officials Board, however, believe that they have been instructed not to overrule controversial incidents that have already been dealt with by the referee. “I check this regulation with the Fifa executive and with other national associations regularly,” said Alex Horne, the FA’s general secretary.

“We are clear as far as Fifa regulations are currently written that if the incident has been seen by the referee we can’t review. If you review everything you begin to undermine the referee. It’s very high on our agenda that referees are respected. No referee, no game.”

As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, the furore that surrounded the Rooney incident has led to Clattenburg considering his future as a referee.

English referees would also like Fifa to change the rules so that retrospective action is permitted.

“In the Wayne Rooney situation, under Fifa regulations if the referee sees the incident, which in this case he did do, the FA has no authority except in what is called exceptional circumstances,” said FA chairman David Bernstein. “If you open the door to ‘halfway exceptional’ the floodgates will open.”

The key subjective point, of course, is what constitutes exceptional circumstances.

The International FA board, football’s law-making body, has also announced the continuation of tests on goal-line technology, meaning a system could be in place within a year and certainly in time for the 2014 World Cup. “If technology proves itself we will get it through next year,” Horne said.

“The International FA board, football’s law-making body, will also outlaw snoods, the neck-warmers worn by a number of Premier League players. “You could risk hanging yourself,” Blatter said.

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