The FA has suspended Chris Armstrong of Crystal Palace for smoking a private spliff. Our football correspondent calls for a sense of proportion
Dear Graham Kelly
As chief executive of the FA you must be basking in the unfamiliar pleasure of knowing that your organisation's archaic bureacracy has acted with rare speed and firmness. All those "urgent, full and frank" inquiries in the pending tray and you still found time to make an example of Armstrong. Now you can return to investigating the Dublin riot, the Bruce Grobbelaar bribes allegation and George Graham's bung.
But, before you put your head back in the sand, how about a sense of perspective. Armstrong was not caught taking amphetamines or steroids, drugs that could enhance his performance. While cannabis may induce the sensation of floating, it does not actually enable its user to glide past defenders or hang in the air waiting for a cross. In reality it is no more likely to enhance performance than lead boots or a blindfold.
Neither was Armstrong found guilty of using heroin or cocaine, which can both be addictive and life-threatening. He was using a mild recreational drug. It is, admittedly, illegal, but is so tolerated that if Armstrong were caught using it by police in south London, he would receive no more than a caution.
He was not having a toke in the dressing room at half-time, or dealing to impressionable apprentices. He simply had a puff or two in the supposed privacy of his own home. Yet the FA has meted out the same treatment it gave Paul Merson, who not only used cocaine but also ensured his habit received the widest possible currency by confessing to it, for a large payment, in a national tabloid newspaper.
This would seem a fairly clear case of "bringing the game into disrepute", yet Merson was not even fined. Neither was Dennis Wise, who was found guilty last month of assaulting a taxi-driver, or Vinnie Jones, who bit a man's nose in a Dublin hotel full of fans and media.
The FA's view is that neither of these incidents was football-related, this despite Jones having committed his assault hours after England fans had rioted less than a mile away. It is hard to see how Armstrong's actions have been more harmful to the game than those of Wise or Jones. He has been foolish, he has let down his club and his manager, but he has not harmed anyone or sought to cheat.
When it comes to harmful substances alcohol is far worse than cannabis. In football it ruins careers and fuels hooligans. Yet earlier this season England were captained by Tony Adams , a convicted drunk driver.
But alcohol is an acceptable drug. The FA Premier League is sponsored by a brewery, as are Liverpool, Palace's opponents tomorrow. No doubt a crate or two will be downed if they win, perhaps you will join them for a G&T. Or would you prefer a spliff? When it comes to wanting to escape from reality you must have better reason than most.
Life & Style blogs
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
NHS medics are being lured away to Australia by more money, status and sunshine, survey suggests
Mac OS X Yosemite download: How to get the open beta of Apple's latest operating system
Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...