Citing Questioned When Sight Maybe Should

Melbourne Victory Coach Kevin Muscat has been cited by the FFA following comments he made following his team’s semi final loss to Melbourne City.

The official FFA press release reads “The citing relates to comments made in the official post-match Fox Sports interview and the press conference following the Westfield FFA Cup semi-final match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City FC on Tuesday, 25 October 2016.”

Allegedly Muscat has broken the FFA’s code of conduct, but watching the Press conference in full it is hard to understand what he has done wrong.

He is asked about the opening goal of the match scored by Luke Bratton, which saw Tim Cahill take evasive action in an offside position, which appeared to leave Lawrence Thomas in goal for Victory unsighted. It was a goal that the linesman felt should not have stood and flagged accordingly. The referee overuled his assistant and let the goal stand.

Muscat questioned why a similar goal to Victory was disallowed when in the second half when his player, Besart Berisha, was in an offside position and a ball was played into him that he missed, and which was subsequently put in the back of the net by Marco Rojas, while Bratton’s goal stood.

Our understanding of the rules is that neither should have stood.

As has been agreed, both players Berisha and Cahill were in an offside position when the ball was played into the danger area. The key is did they influence the play from that position. Many will argue that because Bratton shot Cahill was in a passive off-side position. In other words he did not interfere with play and the ball played forward was not intended for him. Had Cahill stood still and not moved then Bratton’s shot should have been fine, but because he moved across the line from which the shot came, and had to take evasive action to prevent the ball hitting him, his offside position was no longer passive and clearly influenced the outcome. The goal therefore should not have stood. Referee Shaun Evans however ruled otherwise.

With the other incident he was spot on. The second that Berisha made an attempt to play the ball after starting from an off-side position the whistle had to be blown. Whether he plays the ball or not he influenced the play, as by making an attempt to play the ball he became a part of it.

If Muscat is being cited for his comment “They (FFA) will sit there and explain their way through it and try and convince everyone it’s the right decision but if you have to get out of the way of the ball travelling towards the goal, I’d suggest you’re obstructing the keeper. I can’t see how there’s any other explanation.” Then that is simply pathetic.

It could be because Muscat went on to say “I can accept ‘sorry we made a mistake’ and we move on. But if we’re going to try and insult people’s intelligence by saying there was nothing in it …” Yet again what is wrong with that? He is on the money, if referees admitted that they had made an error and apologised post match then coaches would be more willing to forgive and forget, but the infallible approach taken by the FFA and many referees rankles with coaches, players and fans.

There was a question asked implying that Melbourne City’s and the FFA’s Marquee man Tim Cahill was given special treatment by the officials. Muscat should be credited for the way he answered the question simply saying “It did seem at times there were two sets of rules.”

Surely, it cannot be this comment that has resulted in him being cited by the FFA? It would seem preposterous that coaches and the media are not allowed to criticise Cahill if his performance or actions warrant scrutiny.

Not surprisingly many fans around the country are already asking the same question as the journalist. There have been a few stray elbows from the returning Cahill that have connected with opposition players, yet he has escaped a card and even criticism in the media.

Fans not surprisingly are beginning to feel that the FFA’s man on the pitch is going to be untouchable in terms of criticism. If that is to be the case it is going to be a very long two years, and rest assured one player in one game in the future is going to snap in frustration. At that point reputation will mean absolutely nothing.

If Cahill is to be protected by referees who are intimidated by his reputation, as many were by del Piero’s, and failed to card him for even a quarter of the dives he indulged in during his spell in the A-League, it will not take long before there is a backlash from opposing fans and players.

Of course the failure by the FFA to actually advise which comments they feel were inappropriate and have given them grounds to call Kevin Muscat to meet with them, only exacerbates the situation, as all we can do is speculate as to what exactly has upset them.

Muscat’s press conference can be viewed here

Citing Questioned When Sight Maybe Should

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