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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms