Retrospective Punishment – Catching the Cheats

The retrospective three match ban of Chelsea’s Diego Costa was probably no surprise to anyone. The television replays so clearly showed his mauling of Arsenal’s Laurent Koscieiny, which was committed out of the referee’s view. It has however highlighted the use of retrospective punishment in the professional game. In Scotland they have used it regularly for some years, for diving that has deceived the referee. Diving is one of the most difficult decisions that referees have to make. Howard Webb once said to players, ‘Stop diving and you will get better decisions’.

However, little has been done retrospectively about something I think worse than diving and that is feigning injury. The reason I say that, is because diving is usually done to gain a free kick or penalty but feigning injury is invariably done to get an opponent sent off. We have seen so many blatant examples over the years. The days have long gone since players boasted that they would never do anything that would harm a fellow professional. I have campaigned over the years for action to be taken, so I am pleased that the FA has introduced a new rule that will ban players guilty of feigning injury where the referee has been deceived into producing a red card.

There has already been one ban imposed but probably few have heard about it as it happened in the National League (formerly Conference). Tranmere player Richard Sutton successfully appealed against his sending off and instead Welling striker, Sahr Kabbe, was charged under the new rule ‘exaggerating or feigning an injury that directly led to an opponent being dismissed’. It resulted in a three match ban for Kabbe.

I would like to see it given much more publicity to make players think before taking such action, which is totally against the spirit of the game, Then perhaps, and we can only hope, this type of behaviour will be eradicated.

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