The Sport Matrix: Thursday 3 October 2013


Villas-Boas calls FA 'joke' over Torres

The Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas will escape censure from the Football Association despite strong criticism of their decision not to charge Chelsea's Fernando Torres for scratching Jan Vertonghen's face at White Hart Lane last Saturday.

A new three-man FA panel of former referees has been introduced this season but they ruled on Tuesday that Torres would not be handed a further suspension after he was sent off in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham because the second-half incident was spotted by assistant referee Jake Collin on the day.

Under the current rules, no further action can be taken in those circumstances but speaking in Russia ahead of tonight's Europa League meeting with Anzhi Makhachkala, Villas-Boas (above) branded the decision "a joke".

"It's extremely difficult to know where to start," the Portuguese said. "Obviously, it is almost a farcical decision. I think the FA has made a decision almost a joke. It looks incredible. How can you see the images, pretty clear, and come out without punishment, on something (which) overtakes all professional behaviour?

"I think the decision is a disgrace," Villas-Boas added. "If the committee can't solve such clear images I don't think it sets out a good first example. The FA has lost all opportunity to put some sense into the images everybody saw. I'm extremely grateful for ex-refs to be able to enlighten people a little bit more, though I think most of you guys saw the incident as something not tolerable in football."

An FA source confirmed last night that Villas-Boas will not be punished for speaking out in spite of his strongly-worded response to their decision. However, chairman Greg Dyke admitted the incident was another example of the governing body's failure to communicate with fans over its management of the English game.

Torres was last night ruled out for three weeks after suffering medial ligament damage in his knee during Tuesday's Champions League victory at Steaua Bucharest.

City blitzed by brilliant Bayern

Manchester City were well beaten 3-1 by Bayern Munich at the Etihad. Franck Ribéry's shot went through Joe Hart early on then Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben added to the tally. Alvaro Negredo grabbed a consolation before Bayern had Jerome Boateng sent off. MORE

Taison gives United pain in Ukraine

Taison pounced on a mistake from Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic to salvage a 1-1 draw for Shakhtar Donetsk last night. Danny Welbeck scored from close range on 18 minutes to put the English champions, missing the injured Wayne Rooney, ahead at the Donbass Arena. MORE

Arteta: Arsenal can end trophy drought

Mikel Arteta believes the current Arsenal team represent their best chance of ending a nine-year wait for silverware. "We faced a team who know what they're doing and deserve credit," he said. "Some people were writing us off. Now we've proved we're ready for it."

Injury puts Dettori out for the season

Frankie Dettori has been ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle at Nottingham yesterday. "Sunday [the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe] is out – as is the season," Peter Burrell, a spokesman for the 42-year-old rider, said. MORE

Mossop dreaming of grand goodbye

Lee Mossop hopes to bow out a champion as he prepares for his final Wigan game in Saturday's Grand Final. "The timing is just right for me now," he said. "I've won a Challenge Cup and got to a Grand Final – although I want to bow out winning." MORE

Scots open to breakaway cup

Scottish clubs could be tempted by plans to replace the Heineken Cup in its current guise. "We are not ruling anything out at this stage," Mark Dodson, chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union, said. "We would be crazy to do that." MORE

Spieth centre stage at Presidents Cup

Jordan Spieth is likely to be the centre of attention when the Presidents Cup begins in Ohio today. The 20-year-old rookie has lit up the PGA Tour on debut and carded a hole in one during practice yesterday. MORE

Kevin Garside

For Paul Lawrie, as a European Tour member, the Seve Trophy is a welcome diversion from the weekly trawl, but it is neither fair nor helpful to make scheduling an ethical matter. MORE