Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher has left himself open to legal proceedings for his crude challenge on Pedro Mendes, according to Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor.
Thatcher sent the Portsmouth midfielder crashing into advertising hoardings with an elbow during the goalless draw at Eastlands, with the possibility of Mendes seeking civil action. Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they will investigate the challenge - which only yielded a yellow card - while the Football Association are looking into possible further punishment. PFA chief Taylor believes Thatcher's actions leave him vulnerable for other action, and he said: "The player could leave himself open to legal proceedings. Players have a duty, which is a legal duty as well.
"In the eyes of the courts the referee has deemed it a foul and if is it considered reckless the player could have to pay a sum of money. "Any contact with an elbow to the head has got to be eradicated - it's not just football, it's the law of the land as well."
Paul Elliott famously lost his case against Dean Saunders after suffering ruptured knee ligaments in September 1992 but other cases have been successful when taken through the courts. Gordon Watson sued Kevin Gray and Huddersfield after a tackle while playing for Bradford which led to a double fracture of his leg, and he was awarded £909,143 for loss of earnings.
Sports lawyer Mel Goldberg told PA Sport: "The injured player can take civil action for carelessness or recklessness. "They can sue if the player did not take proper care and attention. It's a bit like driving around Trafalgar Square at 100mph - you may not mean to cause harm but are likely to. It is the same with hammering someone with an elbow." He added: "It's quite difficult in terms of courts preferring the football authorities to deal with these situations, but the football authorities do not help the injured player although they may punish the offender. "It is difficult though, the reason for that is the average judge is not a football fan and would not understand the concept of an over-the-top-tackle." Regardless of whether Thatcher is punished further, the players' union is willing to help Thatcher with discipline problems he appears to have. Taylor added: "The PFA has a duty to protect our members and discipline on the field is critical. What we want to eradicate is any reckless play that would endanger a fellow professional. "I am sure he did not mean for the challenge to go the way it did - but it did go that way so he has to look at his conduct. If there is a problem it's something the club will suffer from through suspension. "I've known Ben since his time at Millwall - he's a robust defender who epitomises the physical side of football but that doesn't mean someone like that is reckless."Reuse content