FA must listen to Al Fayed - not fine him

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Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed is likely to face sanction from the Football Association after launching a stinging attack on the national governing body, as well as the Premier League.

Al Fayed maintains the belief that the top-flight's more prominent sides are the beneficiaries of favourable decisions from match officials, and has called on the FA and Premier League to take action against incompetent referees.

Fulham have felt the impact of this supposed big team bias, and were denied a clear penalty in a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford little over two weeks ago.

Michael Carrick blatantly fouled Cottagers captain Danny Murphy in the closing stages; a decision which denied Fulham the opportunity to secure a last gasp draw and, perhaps, have some say in the destination of the league title.

Al Fayed now wants a review of refereeing practices in this country, and has claimed the Premier League is in a 'coma' when it comes to reviewing the performances of match officials.

"The FA's problem in addressing this pivotal situation is that it has too much power," said Al Fayed, as reported by The Independent.

"Where else can decision-makers [referees] escape all responsibility to admit serious and blatant errors and have the protesters [the football clubs] fined on charges of misconduct?

"The losses that we incur from such careless decisions can have calamitous consequences.

"Referees are too easily influenced by the more powerful clubs and individual owners which calls into question the integrity of both them, and the governing body they report to.

"It is time for the Premier League to wake up. They have been in a coma for a long time. Lots of clubs are suffering from such stupid decisions.

"Technology is available and it is used in other sports. Once again I call for action to review the standard of officials, and the transparency of the processes by which referees are allocated to games."

Club chairmen are not immune from being charged by the FA, and Al Fayed could yet face a fine if he is convicted of bringing the game into disrepute.

The integrity of the FA and their officials being called into question serves as another embarrassment for the organisation, who have been unable to deal sufficiently with various misdemeanours over the past few days.

Mario Balotelli was able to escape suspension for his dreadful tackle on Arsenal midfielder Alex Song, owing to the rules in place with regards to retrospective action.

It was a challenge that could have left the career of Song in tatters, and one deserving of a significant ban, but the FA could not act after referee Martin Atkinson claimed to have seen the incident at the time.

Meanwhile, the decision was taken by the FA not to rescind the red card given to Queens Park Rangers midfielder Shaun Derry following a coming together with Manchester United's Ashley Young.

QPR appealed the decision, yet it was quashed by the FA, even though Young appeared to have deceived the referee in order to gain United the penalty last Sunday.

Both incidents perhaps serve to reinforce Al Fayed's point, with big clubs either benefiting from the failure to sanction, or the reluctance to manoeuvre on previous decisions on these occasions.

The FA do have their hands tied somewhat by FIFA when it comes to retrospective action, but it is important for strong leadership when incidents as clear as those mentioned should be dealt with efficiently.

Al Fayed will surely be hit hard in the pocket for his scathing comments about the FA, but his feelings are likely to be echoed by the majority, and the FA would do well to heed his advice.

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