Rio Ferdinand will avoid punishment from the FA regarding his altercation with Fernando Torres during the FA Cup Quarter Final tie at Old Trafford on Sunday. Meanwhile, I’m sat here totally bewildered.
Just how on earth has Rio got away with this? Anyone who was watching the game, or seen the footage will recognise that Ferdinand’s ‘actions’ clearly deserve punishment.
All in all, Howard Webb had a very good game on Sunday. So often the target for criticism due to his accused favouritism towards Manchester United, Webb did very little to continue that trend, until now arguably.
Allegedly, Webb was shown the footage after the game and deemed it not worthy of a red card offence. Now this is a man who has officiated the Champions League and World Cup finals. He is supposedly the best referee in the land, yet he isn’t able to notice a clearly violent shove to the head when he sees one? He may have just given Ryan Babel another reason to visit Photoshop again.
What Ferdinand did to Fernando Torres was assault. Admittedly, I am a Chelsea fan, I haven’t got much time for Man United or Rio Ferdinand for that matter, but my passion towards this incident would stay the same regardless of which teams were involved.
Both players go up for a header, which Ferdinand wins, and both players fall to the ground. Straight away, we can see that Ferdinand didn’t like the challenge he received from the Spaniard, as he springs up almost instantaneously, keeps his eyes fixed on Fernando Torres and jogs over to him. Meanwhile Torres, unaware of what was coming, is clattered in the back of the head and takes a kick to the legs as well. And Rio then has the cheek to yank the Chelsea striker to his feet suggesting that Torres had somehow gone down too easily.
You can forgive the officials for not seeing the incident. Howard Webb in fact is shown to have his back turned and clearly doesn’t see any of what went on. But what baffles me is how he can look at the footage and conclude that it was not a red card offence.
Ferdinand clearly goes in with intent to harm Torres or at least to take a swipe at him and doesn’t have the excuse of challenging for a ball or being in a tight space. Yet it’s deemed not worthy of a red card? Rio has already given the world a sneak peak at his recent ‘professionalism’ on the pitch, when last week he sarcastically clapped in the face of Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakır following United’s exit from the Champions League. So it’s not as if a warming character reference could get Rio off the hook. He’s demonstrated his malice and bad sportsmanship twice in a week and has failed to be punished once. That isn’t right.
Speaking of Cüneyt Çakır, he was the man who sent John Terry off in the semi-final of last season’s Champions League against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, for an incident not too dissimilar to this one. In fact, I’d say Terry’s knee to the back of Alexis Sanchez warranted a red card a lot less than Rio’s ‘shove’ as described by the general media, on Fernando Torres. No one was up in arms saying that Terry was wrongfully sent off, yet everyone seems to be in silent agreement that Ferdinand’s actions weren’t enough for the centre back to see red. It doesn’t make any sense. The only difference is, Çakır and his officials spotted Terry’s challenge and Webb and his team failed to spot Ferdinand’s. Yet somehow Çakır is the archetypal villainous referee worthy of death threats, hmmm.
Officials missing incidents hasn’t stopped players receiving subsequent punishments in the past. Last season, the officials missed Branislav Ivanovic’s ‘punch’ on Shaun Maloney in the build-up to Chelsea’s winner against Wigan back in March of last year. The footage was reviewed and Ivanovic rightfully received a 3-match ban. However, this isn’t the first time a Manchester United player has got off the hook.
In the 2010/11 season, as the season was coming to a climax, Wayne Rooney was seen elbowing Wigan’s James McCarthy. The referee and his officials didn’t see the incident at the time, yet didn’t report Rooney for the incident. He should have received a straight red and a 3-match ban but instead got off scot-free. He was then free to play in Man United’s next match, against the champions at the time Chelsea. Rooney played and scored, but no fuss was made.
It’s happened again for Man United, this time with Rio Ferdinand. The footage is clear, he has unnecessarily and maliciously assaulted an opposing player off the ball, without any obvious provocation other than the general rigours of the modern game. The footage cannot be deemed inconclusive, and it is a clear red card offence. Methinks had Rio not been wearing the red shirt of Man United, things may have been slightly different. Howard Webb didn’t give United any soft penalties or easy decisions, he didn’t needlessly book or send off any opposition players, but he’s certainly picked up a few more brownie points from Alex Ferguson by saving him the availability of his centre back.
I wonder whether if it was Luis Suarez getting off the hook we would all be so calm and collected about this. I think not. Rio Ferdinand is one lucky man, but one thing’s for sure, his actions in the last week have been nothing to be proud of. An England return on the cards? Well he’s hardly setting a good example is he?