The term retrospective in footballing terms relates to a decision made after an event, in which the situation has already been dealt with.
For example, if a player is given a yellow card in a match, the Football Association won’t deal with it any further, thus no retrospective action can be taken.
If the incident isn’t seen by the referee - such as Luis Suarez's bite on Branislav Ivanovic - retrospective action can be taken.
The rule currently allows the FA to deal with incidents not dealt with by the referee, but to have no effect on incidents dealt with by the referee.
This surely would have been chosen in order to stop a pile of paper, and a number of phone calls to the FA headquarters on a Monday morning, highlighting every minor infraction that happened over the previous weekend.
After all, referees are employed to deal with the incidents in a match, and if he feels a bite is worth a yellow card, who are the FA to judge?
The problem with this ruling is that standards are constantly demeaned, causing more and more controversy week upon week. Let’s take the Suarez biting incident as an example.
When the incident occurred, the referee didn’t see it, nor did any players, but due to the supposed invisibility of the incident, no punishment was dealt. After trawling through numerous videos which clearly highlighted the incident, the FA decided that a punishment was needed - and rightly so, I might add.
This then means that the player hasn’t gotten away with something that was very severe, and will still serve a punishment they feel appropriate - in this case 10 games.
Rewind back to 2006, and a very similar incident occurred. On the back end of a tackle from Javier Mascherano, Jermain Defoe took it upon himself to crawl over and have a bite of the Argentinian midfielder.
The referee saw the incident, and followed it up with a yellow card. Whilst the punishment of a yellow instead of a red is at the very least laughable, because the referee saw it, the FA didn’t do anything about it afterwards. Therefore, we have two very similar incidents, with one player being banned for 10 games, and another not receiving a ban at all.
Another example is Callum McManaman. Only a few weeks ago, the enthusiastic youngster dived into a tackle with Newcastle United defender Massadio Haidara, leaving Haidara to be stretchered off. Whilst the Newcastle defender has made a quick recovery, the tackle could so easily have broken his leg, or ended his career. The referee saw this incident, and due to an obscurity in his viewing, decided against using the red card.
Whilst nobody surely would have disagreed if the red card had been given, the fact that no subsequent punishment could be taken against him is a disappointment. The FA surely would have given the Wigan midfielder a three-game ban had no action been taken, but because the referee (just about) saw it, they could do nothing.
I’m sure I’m in the majority here that feel this system is ridiculously flawed, and needs to be changed. With this system in place, decisions are all over the place.
How can two people biting have such different punishments? How can a slip from Olivier Giroud result in a ban, yet Callum McManaman is allowed to carry on playing straight away?
The Football Association needs to get this ruling changed - or risk becoming even more of a laughing stock.
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