Farce at FA as Balotelli escapes but Derry is banned

Referee saw striker's tackle so FA powerless while panel finds no error in QPR red card

English football reacted with surprise and dismay yesterday when Mario Balotelli was given a reprieve for his stamp on Alex Song, meaning he will face no retrospective action for the foul but Shaun Derry's soft red card against Manchester United was allowed to stand.

On a difficult day for the Football Association's disciplinary department, referee Martin Atkinson said that he saw enough of Balotelli's lunge at Song on Sunday that the governing body could not go back on the foul, under Fifa guidelines. That was despite Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, urging the FA to review the foul.

In the separate case of Derry, dismissed by Lee Mason for the faintest of touches on Ashley Young in Queen's Park Rangers' defeat to United the same day, a three-man independent panel ruled that the decision should stand. The panel had to decide whether it was a "serious and obvious" error by Mason and judged that it was not. QPR had lodged an appeal against the Derry red card but the one-match ban stands – the Rangers captain will have to serve it against Swansea City tonight.

 

The third major decision of the day saw the Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic charged with violent conduct for an off-the-ball punch landed on Wigan Athletic's Shaun Maloney during the two clubs' Premier League game on Saturday.

Chelsea are yet to indicate whether they will appeal against the judgment but if they do not do so by the deadline of 6pm today, the Serbian defender will miss Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Spurs as well as league games against Arsenal and QPR.

The Balotelli case could not face retrospective action once Atkinson told the FA that he had some sight of the incident. As with all major incidents that go unpunished during a game, the FA contacted the referee to ask Atkinson whether he saw Balotelli's studs make contact with Song.

The usual procedure is that if an official answers that he did not see the incident, the FA then ask what punishment he would have applied had he done so. Atkinson said that he, his assistant on that side, Peter Kirkup, and fourth official Andre Marriner, who was nearby, got some sight of the incident. Even though they did not see the full severity of the foul, that prevents the FA from acting retrospectively.

Balotelli was facing a potential nine-match ban, as reported in The Independent yesterday. He had already received a three-game ban for his red card at the end of the match for two bookable offences (one game for the two yellows and two further games for it being his third red card of the season). Had he also been punished for the Song incident he would have been banned for three games for violent conduct and a further three for it being his fourth red card of the season.

As it stands, Balotelli will be banned for three matches which means his potential comeback game will be the Manchester derby at the Etihad against Manchester United on 30 April.

In a statement the FA said that it was prevented from taking action. "Where at least one of the officials has seen the coming together of players, retrospective action is not taken, regardless of whether they have seen the full extent of the challenge.

"Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the match officials saw the players coming together. The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for 'off-the-ball' incidents."

The FA is restricted by Fifa in its scope to punish players retrospectively. While other European nations have different systems and, in some cases, impose greater penalties on players for red cards, all of them work under the same restrictions on retrospective action.

Fifa militates against any re-refereeing of games. Only in special circumstances can the FA go back on a referee's decision and impose a much more severe punishment. Ben Thatcher was given an eight-match ban for his elbow on Pedro Mendes in 2006, even though referee Dermot Gallagher only booked him at the time and effectively saw the incident.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week