We don’t need the FA – we need a Commissioner

Feb 8, 2014
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The FA lived up to its other acronym this week,the one in Sweet Fanny Adams, by demonstrating how ineffective it is at regulating the game.

Bound by procedure and an inflexible framework the FA and the independent panel could only answer the question as to whether Howard Webb had made an ‘obvious error’ when deciding to send off Andy Carroll against Swansea City last weekend. Their rigid constitution renders the body charged with policing English football hamstrung.

The FA and the independent panel watched a video over and over again of Chico Flores holding his face and falling to the floor, when the footage clearly showed that no contact had been made with the player’s face.

Neither the FA nor the panel made any recommendation or imposed any sanction on the player for that blatant act of cheating. What more do you need to evidence just how redundant this custodian of the English game is?

Would Roger Goodell stand by and let players or organisations cheat? Ask the New Orleans Saints.

Diving can be directly related to the basketball practice of ‘flopping’ – when a player feigns injury, and falls to the floor as if fouled. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern, introduced an anti-flopping policy and laid down the sanctions available for flopping at the start of the 2012/13 season. Before game one of last year’s NBA Finals, he also added that he’d like to see the sanctions beefed-up. Players can be fined in the NBA for flopping. If a player is a serial flopper, there is a sliding scale of sanctions with fines increasing up to $30,000, with the built-in option to dish out bigger fines or to suspend repeat offenders. If you google Chico Flores you’ll see he has form.

In American Football, infringements can be reviewed within game time.

This season saw the introduction of goal line technology in the Premier League and in the build-up to the first goal being awarded using the new system, a hand ball was committed by the attacking team. But when they ran the review to see if the ball was over the line, they didn’t think to run the tape back, they didn’t think outside the narrow parameters they allow themselves to get boxed in to, and they awarded the goal – incorrectly. Every scoring play in American Football is reviewable, regardless of any obvious infringement, and the tape is rolled back earlier in the play to see if there is any reason why the points cannot be awarded.

I haven’t contributed to the site for a long while, but as its founder I’ve taken the “it’s my site and I’ll cry if I want to” approach, as I didn’t feel that the sub-plot of the story, that the FA let Flores cheat without rebuke was getting enough column inches.

We hear the phrase ‘not fit for purpose’ levelled at public bodies with a bit too much ease these days, particularly when we never really know the context of the actions or omissions that happen behind closed doors, making it hard to fully appreciate the level of culpability. In the last seven days though, we know exactly the decisions that have been made, within what context and the reasons for those decisions. Ten out of ten for transparency, but surely it’s time that the Football Association realised that it’s failing to effectively regulate the game and therefore failing to do its job – dare I say, it’s not fit for purpose.


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