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Nemanja Matic ban reduced to two games; Chelsea appalled by decision

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You open the official Chelsea website and see the bold headline plastered across the top. "Chelsea appalled with the FA's decision on Matic." Uh-oh, did he get suspended ever further?

Fortunately not.  But his ban also wasn't completely rescinded.  Instead, it was just reduced to two games, with the FA fully non-sympathetic towards the player's reaction.  While they haven't yet delivered their written reasons, they did explain themselves at length with an official statement.

"In reaching this decision the members of the Regulatory Commission rejected the mitigation advanced by Nemanja Matic in respect of the provocation and tackle he received which led to his act of violent conduct."

"The violent response of Mr. Matic to the nature of the tackle cannot be condoned and does not vindicate his subsequent actions. The members of the Commission did, however, accept the mitigation in respect of the level of force used by Mr. Matic and the nature of the contact he made with Mr. Barnes of Burnley FC."

"Having made those considerations we determined that the standard punishment of a three-match suspension would be clearly excessive and, therefore, ordered that the suspension be reduced to two matches."

-source: The FA

Apparently the FA are laboring under the impression that Matic did something other than push the man in the chest.  Violent?  Maybe they're confusing him with that one guy who suplexed his opponent in the lower leagues?  If all that gets you is one extra game over a shove, I almost wish Matic would've just gone all WWE on Barnes.

Oh well.

Of course, Chelsea, who have been up in arms even since Saturday -- presenting as a unified front across social media, TV, and print, to an extent that I'm not sure we've ever seen -- have released a strongly worded response as well.  Fire!

"The Chelsea Football Club Board is extremely disappointed and frustrated that the FA Regulatory Commission has today decided not to reduce Nemanja Matic's suspension to the maximum extent permitted under FA rules.

Chelsea FC challenged the standard three-match suspension which automatically followed the red card issued to Matic by referee Martin Atkinson during Saturday's Premier League match against Burnley.

There has been universal condemnation of the reckless challenge made by Ashley Barnes on Matic and it is the club's view that he has been unjustly punished with a two-match ban for his reaction to a career-threatening tackle.

It is Chelsea's opinion that referees and the football authorities must do more to protect players at all levels of the game from dangerous challenges. This decision also clearly demonstrates a need for consistency and fairness in the disciplinary process.

The club awaits The FA's written reasons, prior to commenting further."

-source: Chelsea FC

So, to recap.  Barnes gets away scot-free.  Matic gets two games.  Atkinson gets a week's vacation.  FA justice at its finest.