In the space of 24 hours the Football Federation have managed to make two decisions that have many fans off side.
The first did not garner a great deal debate as the victim was the man-everyone-seems-to-love-to-hate at the moment,Jacob Burns. The Captain of Perth Glory was issued a second yellow card in the match against the Central Coast Mariners, which resulted in a red card. It was alleged by the fourth official that Burns, who had been forced to leave the field with a cut to his head had ‘entered the field of play without permission.’ As the referee had booked Mariners player Marcel Seip earlier in the match for the same offence he believed he had to be consistent.
Despite television footage clearly showing that the experienced Burns did not make such a basic error and did not enter the field of play ahead of time therefore making the issuing of the yellow card appear incorrect the FFA have still handed Burns a one match ban.
What compounds the issue is that the FFA confirmed the Referee had issued a second Yellow Card to Jacob Burns on the advice of the Fourth Official. The FFA further confirmed that the Referee had failed to clarify with the Fourth Official the actual reason for the Yellow Card at that time. Burns is punished for doing nothing wrong, but is the referee who in fact made an error punished?
Next came the announcement that following a clash between fans outside of the ground prior to the fixture in Melbourne between the Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers, – a club still owned by the FFA – would “receive a proposed sanction is the deduction of three (3) competition points from each club.” The sanction however will be suspended until the conclusion of the 2013/14 season, subject to the proper conduct of supporters for that period. This is likely to be more of a concern for Wanderers whose fans already caused quite a stir off the pitch in their first season in the A-League last year.
One of their players Jerome Polenz has turned to social media to criticise the move by the FFA, a decision that is bound to see him censored and possibly fined.
The German wrote “1. Pyro (Pyrotechnics e.g. flares) is only acceptable if it’s safe and no harm can occur to anyone. Attending Football games must be safe, enjoyable and fearless.2. Punishing the players for something they can’t control – regardless if they are playing for MBV, the Wanderers or any other club – is not fair and doesn’t punish the right people. If you take once this path, you can’t leave it anymore.What if some people wearing a Perth Glory jersey are causing some trouble in public tomorrow and some other people wearing a Sydney FC jersey are robbing a bank next week? Where is the beginning, where is the end?Just to make a clear statement:People that behave wrong inside the stadium must be punished but you can’t punish the players, the club and all the friendly fans for something they can’t control. This would be the beginning of the end, for the competition – and the code.”
He makes a valid point, and the fans have been quick to support his views in massive numbers. Virtually all feeling the game’s governing body have got this horribly wrong. How can clubs possibly control fans wearing their shirts away from the ground? Some have even questioned the FFA stoking the fires for the altercation that took place with their marketing of the game.
It will be interesting to see if both clubs look to challenge the punishment, especially the FFA owned Western Sydney Wanderers. If they do the arguments will no doubt reflect the thoughts of Jerome Polenz and many well behaved fans, that the players, the clubs and the fans should not suffer for the acts of the mindless minority.
Two decisions in 24 hours that show that the FFA need to look very carefully at their disciplinary processes. They have done well to pull fans into the A-League, but decisions such as these can soon turn people away from the game.