Once a regular source of income for the FA’s coffers (of which there his no public oversight), Chelsea have been mostly staying out of sight of the disciplinary committee for the past couple years, ever since Mourinho Mk. II met his timely end with the Betrayal at Leicester.
But that changed on Wednesday night when Antonio Conte finally had enough of referee Neil Swarbrick’s incompetent enforcement of rules and regulations, as well as his propensity for making very bad calls in general. By the time the 43rd minute rolled around at Stamford Bridge, Swarbrick had ignored two perfectly good penalty shouts, gave a goal kick when literally everyone else in the stadium knew that it should’ve been a corner, and, most egregiously of all for the Chelsea head coach, continued to turn a blind eye to the visitors’ ridiculous time-wasting antics.
And yet, as incompetent as Swarbrick might have been, the catalyst for Conte’s sending off was actually fourth official Lee Mason, who, as the closest official to the dugout, had been on the receiving end of Conte’s verbal diatribes since the fourth minute, which is when Swansea began their aforementioned antics. After the corner incident Conte let loose another salvo, to which Mason responded by calling over Swarbrick who obliged his colleague by promptly sending Conte to the stands (which turned into a dressing room banishment).
After the game, Conte apologized for his own behavior, but that wasn’t enough to stay the FA’s grubby, inconsistent, random hands. On Thursday, Conte was charged with misconduct and he now has a week to respond to what is likely to be a fine, but as a first offense, probably no touchline ban. Then again, you can never be too sure with the FA.
As usual, there is no word on when Swarbrick might be charged for his incompetence.