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The FA's full written reasons for Costa, Gabriel rulings only serve to muddle the situation even further

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Previously, on The FA disciplinary panel clown show:

  • The FA charges Diego Costa with violent conduct following the Chelsea vs. Arsenal match.  Costa and Chelsea appeal the charge.  The FA's "independent" panel upholds the charge.  Costa's suspension starts with League Cup match the following day.
  • The FA rescinds Gabriel's red card after Arsenal appeal.  They uphold charge for improper conduct.  By setting a later deadline for Gabriel's improper conduct charge than Costa's violent conduct charge (even though they both occured in the same match), Gabriel's one-match ban starts with the match after the League Cup instead.  This seems inconsistent, and thus unfair.

After The FA handed down these decisions last week, both Chelsea and Arsenal were made to wait for the full written reasons (GabrielCosta) until today.  Even with a week to sort themselves out, the reasonings behind the two violent conduct decisions only serve to muddle the status quo going forward.

For example, both of the three-man "independent" panels deciding the fates of the two players consisted of people in FA positions.  Take G. Aplin on the Costa commission, who just happens to be the chairman of the Westmorland FA and who sits on the FA Council as that association's representative.  The chairman of the Costa commission, B.W. Bright, is the chairman of the FA Council itself!  So just what are they "independent" of?  Certainly not The FA.  Same goes for the people on the Gabriel commission.  There's also no insight at all into how the commissions' members are chosen.  Random draw from a pool of volunteers?  Is it more like jury duty?  This may or may not matter that much, but to call them "independent" is a bit of a laugh.

Or take the proceedings of the two cases.  In Costa's case, three ex-referees were consulted.  In Gabriel's case, only a representative from the Referee Advisory Panel was consulted.  Why are these two procedures different?  Both Costa and Gabriel were charged with violent conduct, no?  Why does Costa's case hinge on what three other senior (and obviously unnamed) ex-referees think when the other case just hinges on some dude reading out the letter of the law that referees are supposed to enforce?  Why not ask three referees in Gabriel's case what they would've done?

We've already talked about the "evidence" used, with Arsenal submitting video clips that they themselves sourced.  Chelsea, meanwhile, like chumps, only submitted written reasons.  There are no standards in place, leaving plenty of room for various shenanigans.

But here's the best part.  As Mourinho and others mentioned, the Gabriel decision (which occured in full sight of referee Mike Dean, as detailed in his report) sets a dangerous precedent that apparently allows for retaliation... as long as you don't cross some unspecified line of violence.

The Commission, in considering what the members could view on the videos, did consider it to be an act of aggression carried out by [Gabriel ("the Player")]. However, the Commission also considered the factors outlined under the law of game relevant to violent conduct, namely those of brutality or excessive force.

The Commission found that the act carried out by the Player was not one of brutality. The Commission considered further whether the act was one which was carried out with excessive force beyond that of an aggressive act.

The Player had his back to his opponent and raised his lower leg towards that opponent. The level of force used by the Player, whilst making slight contact, was considered by the Commission to be low and the nature of the act could not be considered violent.

-Gabriel incident written judgment

Since there was little or no contact between Gabriel's heel and Costa's private parts, it's not technically violent conduct.  It's unclear what it is (threatening conduct?  bad aim?), but apparently it's not violent.  Even though it's quite obviously intended to be.

Meanwhile, the Costa incident (vs. Koscielny) was deemed to contain the required amount of brutality to be deemed violent.

The Regulatory Commission did not concur with various aspects of Mr. Diego Costa's opinion and noted that the incident occurred away from the flow of the match ball; that his arm was pulled back and struck the opposing player who was behind him in the head and concluded this action of the arm was an act of violent conduct.

-Costa incident written judgment

There's no detail on what Costa's submitted opinion was, but he probably claimed that it was incidental contact.  It may have been.  In all likelihood, he "knew what he was doing" at the very least.  But the FA have unilaterally declared intent to harm here (rather than just, say, gain an advantage), while exonerating Gabriel for similar intent just because he failed to make contact.  Dangerous, ridiculous precedent.

Especially, since the commission still doesn't have power to review or consider yellow cards.  Try this bit from the Gabriel ruling.

The members of the Regulatory Commission were unanimous in their decision that this act should not have been considered to be more than a caution offence and therefore the Referee had made an obvious error in dismissing the Player from the field of play. The Commission concluded that the offence was aggressive but clearly fell short of violent conduct as defined by the laws of the game, namely that the act was absent excessive force or brutality.

-Gabriel incident written judgment

So it should've been a caution, which would've been his second and he would've been sent off anyway.  But The FA's own rules do not allow retrospective action regarding yellow cards.  So instead of being able to make a semi-reasonable decision (sure, no actual violence, but certainly a cautionable act during a match), they're made to look like fools by exonerating Gabriel completely.  Meanwhile, Costa's banned for three matches for brutalizing Koscielny or some such.  Could've killed the lad.