The Football Association decided Tuesday not to punish Wigan striker Callum McManaman for his tackle on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara, which saw the Frenchman stretchered off the pitch. The statement reads, in part:
Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge. This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents.
In the case of McManaman, it has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together, though not the full extent of the challenge. In these circumstances retrospective action cannot be taken.
The policy to stand behind officials is understandable, to a degree. If the governing body is constantly overturning their decisions, the players will not respect them. However, the policy is applied inconsistently. At least five red cards that I am aware of have been rescinded by a regulatory commission this year alone - these decisions directly overturn decisions made by a match official. Now, because at least one of the officials saw the event, though only partially, the FA hides behind their "no re-refereeing" policy so that they don't have to hand out any punishment. It's maddening, and it shows that the organization is more interested in protecting their employees than they are in enforcing the rules and ensuring player safety.
Newcastle United have responded through managing director Derek Llambias. Here's the money quote:
Whilst we understand that the current procedures give the FA limited options, it cannot be correct that the most serious offences - those which have the potential to cause another player serious harm - can go unpunished, even if the original incident was seen by match officials.
We will now be making a strong representation to the FA and the Premier League to see how a more appropriate, fair and even-handed disciplinary process can be introduced at the earliest opportunity to prevent incidents of this nature going unpunished in the future.
I have hope that Newcastle can change the process somewhat, but for better or worse, this process is done. The focus now goes to where it maybe should have been this whole time - the health of Massadio Haidara. We do not know the extent of the damage or how long he will be out, but hopefully he's able to recover quickly and get back out on the pitch as soon as possible. What we do know: Callum McManaman will play for Wigan in a fortnight. That's justice?