Babayaro and Cahill charged over Goodison Park clash

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The Independent Football

Retrospective punishment may not have entrapped Alan Shearer for appearing to elbow the Everton centre-half David Weir on Sunday, but it did catch up with his Newcastle team-mate Celestine Babayaro yesterday, the Nigerian defender receiving a three-match ban for his part in a punch-up with the midfielder Tim Cahill at Goodison Park.

The Australian international is also facing a three-game suspension for lashing out at Babayaro as the pair jostled for a free-kick during Everton's 1-0 victory. Though the match official, Howard Webb, failed to spot the incident at the time, he did include it in his match report after studying video footage after the game.

Both players were charged with violent conduct by the English game's ruling body, the Football Association, and were due to face its disciplinary committee today. However, Babayaro accepted the charge after consulting Newcastle officials and was immediately suspended for last night's Carling Cup tie at Wigan Athletic plus the Premiership games against Aston Villa and Arsenal. Everton will submit a defence on behalf of Cahill, but will have no right of appeal if he is found guilty and banned for the club's next three League fixtures against Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United and West Ham United. His case will be heard today.

The suspensions once again cast doubt on the merits of FA rules regarding retrospective punishments. Shearer cannot be disciplined for catching the Scotland international Weir with a leading elbow - after having appeared to look round to locate the defender first - as the referee awarded a free-kick to Everton having seen the incident and acted accordingly, but his failure to take action against Babayaro or Cahill exposed them to a far greater penalty.

An FA spokesman confirmed: "We can only take retrospective action if a referee admits that he did not see an incident take place. In this instance, referee Howard Webb took action against Shearer during the game but admitted that had he seen the incident between Cahill and Babayaro then he would have sent both players off."