Black eyes go unpunshed

A statement on the official Leeds United site has criticised the FA for what they call a lack of consistency after Luciano Becchio was left with a black eye following an elbow from a Hull City player on Tuesday night.

Just two weeks earlier Luciano Becchio was the victim of a horror tackle from Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd that went unpunished, leaving the Leeds United fans and manager outraged.

Both incidents were largely unseen during the games and have been brought to light by video replays after the fact. The phenomena, dubbed ‘trial by replay’ has become a big part of football discipline hearings over recent years but there appears to be very little consistency in the FA’s decision and use of the replays to punish those involved.

On both occasions, the FA claim the referee saw the incident and would not second guess him as a result. However, both replays show the referee badly placed and looking elsewhere so I think it’s safe to conclude someone is deceiving us somewhere!

Referees come under a lot of scrutiny these days because of the Sky Sports era in which we live, and I think that goes a long way to explaining why the referees seem to be lying to the FA. By accepting they missed the incident and got it wrong, they’re undermining their own authority. This will in turn lead fans to further question the referee’s right and ability to govern the game, so it makes sense for them to collectively prevent video replays being used to punish players.

Meanwhile, the FA continue to be their own worst enemy. The FA tells us that it wants to send a positive, fair play message to youngsters playing the game, by cutting out nasty tackles and cheating at the highest levels. The Hull City elbow in particular contradicts that philosophy completely. When a replay like that is available, youngsters are going to see it and think they too can get away with it so long as the referee isn’t watching. When the FA also fail to punish players afterwards, where’s the deterrent?

I think Leeds United are right to complain about consistency. Last night we saw the always thuggish Joey Barton punch Pedersen in an incident not dissimilar to the elbow Becchio took, with the referee seemingly looking elsewhere. With the Barton incident covering column inches in all the national rags, I’d be willing to bet good money he gets punished.

All the while, Luciano Becchio watches on through one eye and the rest of us are expected to believe that two separate referees saw a potentially career ending lunge and an elbow to the head, yet felt no action was necessary – and people wonder why Leeds fans feel victimised.