Sweet FA for Mario Balotelli but Derry red card stands
'Who's making these decisions at the FA,' asks Lineker as anger mounts at perceived injustice
TO WIDESPREAD astonishment, the Football Association has announced it won't be punishing Mario Balotelli for his horrendous challenge on Arsenal's Alex Song on Sunday.
The Manchester City forward caught Song with a reckless studs-up tackle during the Sky Blues 1-0 defeat to the Gunners and referee Martin Atkinson somehow deemed the challenge legal. Yet Atkinson did spot two other wild tackles from Balotelli that resulted in a stoppage time dismissal for the 21-year-old Italian striker.
On Monday evening the FA released a statement in which they said Atkinson had made mention of the Song tackle in his official match report, leaving them powerless to act. "Where at least one of the officials has seen the coming together of players retrospective action is not taken, regardless of whether they have seen the full extent of the challenge," ran the statement.
"Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the match officials saw the players coming together. The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for 'off the ball' incidents."
The news will come as a surprise to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini who had been bracing himself to be without Balotelli for the rest of the season. But instead of facing a nine-match ban for violent misconduct, Balotelli will only sit out the matches against West Bromwich Albion, Norwich and Wolves as he serves his punishment for the two yellow cards.
In a further twist, however, the FA declared that the red card Queens Park Rangers midfielder Shaun Derry received at the weekend will stand. Derry got his marching orders against Manchester United though television replays showed he barely made contact (above) with Ashley Young in conceding a dubious penalty.
"Shaun Derry red card stands," tweeted Gary Lineker, the former England captain turned BBC presenter. "Who makes these decisions at the FA? Have they any feeling for the game? Beggars belief at times."
Talksport pundit and former West Ham captain Alvin Martin echoed Lineker's thoughts, saying: "The game now has officially gone mad. It's gone potty. We have seen petty offences… being punished with players sent off. Then we see a really serious offence, in view of everyone I would have thought, and no action has been taken."
The decision not to rescind Derry's red card (thereby ruling him out of tonight's clash with Swansea) was met with fury by Rangers officials, with the club's assistant manager Mark Bowen saying: "We felt if a penalty was given and we were without the player for 75 minutes then that warranted enough punishment… Something's wrong somewhere, everyone who saw the incident felt we were hard done. We go into a vital game without him."