Rio: the waiting and the games go on

Despite having shown their willingness to act quickly on disciplinary matters by rescinding one of El Hadji Diouf's yellow cards in less than 48 hours last week, the Football Association remain hamstrung by their own rule-book in the more celebrated case of Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand.

It had been obvious to anyone watching Liverpool's televised match at Chelsea that Diouf did nothing to merit a second yellow and consequent sending-off, awarded on the intervention of a linesman. Referee Steve Dunn came to the same conclusion after studying video evidence and the dismissal was annulled.

Ferdinand's eight-month ban for either failing or refusing to take a drugs test - which of the two has not been made public - was supposed to start tomorrow, and bodies such as Fifa and Dick Pound's World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) have already complained to no avail that he should not still be playing. On the day he was found guilty, 19 December, the FA made it clear they were hoping to hear his expected appeal within three weeks, so that any suspension would start on time. That proved unrealistically optimistic. The three-man tribunal took so long to write up their findings that United did not receive them until last Tuesday. Club lawyers have been studying the judgement since then, aware that under the FA's antiquated rules they still had 14 days in which to give notification of an appeal.

Even though United's Maurice Watkins said within hours of the unexpectedly heavy sentence being passed that there would be one, it has suited the club for Ferdinand to keep playing while his understudy, Wes Brown, regains full fitness. He can now stay in the side not just until the new deadline of 20 January, but until the appeal has been heard sometime thereafter.

United will take the risk of the eight-month sentence being extended, as Wada have constantly demanded in repeating their mantra that not taking a test is the same as failing one. One Danish member last week called for Ferdinand to be banned for two years, and Pound kept the pressure on Fifa's Sepp Blatter by repeating his threat that football will not be allowed at next summer's Olympics unless the sport signs up to their charter.

United's lawyers will be following with great interest the cases of two Italian league players suspended for doping offences at the end of last week. Unlike Ferdinand, Perugia's Al Saadi Gaddafi and Internazionale's Mohammed Kallon both tested positive, but received bans of only three and eight months.

The process by which Ferdinand and later Alan Smith of Leeds were omitted from the England team for disciplinary misdemeanours will be raised at a meeting in Manchester tomorrow. Gary Neville and David James, backed up by the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, will demand clearer guidelines about selection criteria.

England's coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, who sympathised more with the players than his employers in the previous dispute, will not be present. He has also opted out of Tuesday's meeting in Cardiff to fix dates for the World Cup qualifiers starting next season.

The FA have arranged a summit tomorrow with Fifa, Uefa and the Football League over transfer windows. The League will press their case for continued exemption from the system on the grounds that many clubs need to sell outside the windows to survive.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own