The FA alters the rule which allowed the Fernando Torres face scratch to go unpunished

Ian Walton

Surprisingly, England's governing body has altered a ridiculous rule in a somewhat timely fashion

Does anyone still recall the game at White Hart Lane earlier this season in which Fernando Torres showed off his cat-like moves using the face of Jan Vertonghen? The FA apparently does, and today announced an alteration in their policy involving retrospective action which would allow them to review similar incidents in the future:

The FRA (Football Regulatory Authority) has now given its approval so that The FA will be able to consider retrospective action in the two following situations, in addition to those already within the existing charging policy:

  • firstly, for acts of violent conduct that occur secondarily to a challenge for the ball;
  • and secondly, in off-the-ball incidents where one or more match official did see the players coming together, but the match officials’ view was such that none of them had the opportunity to make a decision on an act of misconduct that took place within that coming together.

This policy adjustment will be implemented in the Premier League, Football League and Football Conference (National Division) from 22 November, immediately following the international break. The FA has contacted clubs in these leagues to inform them of the impending change.

There were also some brief comments from the FA director of governance on the alteration:

"This enables The FA to consider acts of violent conduct, like an elbow or a stamp, which have occurred after a challenge for the ball or coming together of players"

"It is sometimes difficult for officials to see such incidents, as they are often concentrating solely on the challenge for possession of the ball, and we are mindful of this. Also, where off-the-ball incidents are concerned, the policy adjustment will allow action to be taken where an act of misconduct could not have been seen by the match officials, even though they may have seen some part of the players coming together."

"This is an important step forward for the game and provides an appropriate level of discretion for The FA to consider action. However, we remain of the view that the best outcome for all is that referees are able to make correct judgements on the day to benefit the teams involved."

Frankly, this rule should have been altered years ago, and it's a bit sad that it takes such a blatant act of idiocy in a high profile game to force the FA to concede to common sense. The concept that anything the referee "has seen" can't be reviewed was ridiculous, and this seems like a nice first step in the right direction.

While these changes still leave plenty of room for incidents to slide through unpunished, the review system is now a bit better than it was two weeks ago. Let's just hope that it's not another Chelsea player providing the FA with it's first chance to look at an incident they previously wouldn't have been able to.

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