Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Friday March 16 2007
This Football Association of ours, eh? Little bit of advice guys, if you are going to instigate a charge against somebody, do you not think it would be a good idea to get your story straight first? I hope the Football Association does not have to commit any secret political assassinations, can you imagine the furore?
Bobby: 'So, Mr. Barwick, where were you on the 24th May, 2006 between the hours of 2pm and 11pm?'
Brian: 'Errr....I was washing my hair, no, I was washing the dishes....no,no,no, I was at dinner with Frank Lampard.'
Bobby (incredulously): 'You were at dinner with Frank Lampard for the whole nine hours?'
Brian: 'Well, not dinner so much. He was scooping out the crumbs from his toaster again and got his fingers stuck.'
I am sure you have heard by now that the Football Association have charged Arsene Wenger with improper conduct, a touchline ban and a public flogging will probably ensue. I think this is one of the more obvious charges in the F.As rather chequered disciplinary history (apart from when Ian Wright called all referees 'incompetent little Hitlers'). I mean, fancy calling somebody who is clearly guilty of telling a lie a liar? The cheek! I want to know just how the Football Association thought they could get away with telling such a stinking porker? The bout of handbags versus Chelsea was a domestic showpiece Final, televised to millions. The really quite unremarkable 'melee' was seen from a multitude of angles by millions the world over, if one of those people can tell me what Adebayor did to get a red card I would be interested to know.
What is remarkable is the F.A's quite immature sidestepping. At the original hearing the linesman alleged that Adebayor had punched Frank Lampard. Of course everybody with a set of functioning eyes could see that no such incident took place (Fabregas was too busy swinging Fat Boy around for Ade to even get a chance)! Usually, being the laughing stock of the country does not phase the F.A (pulling the plug on a Youth Centre of Excellence to put an arch on Wembley stadium. Need I say more?) But when the chubster's agent Steve Kutner flatly denied the allegation, the F.A's lie had been exposed. Arsene called it as much, 'the whole system is dishonest.' Well, he's correct isn't he? Don't the F.As constant alterations to their story back this up? Oh no, no, no. You've got it all wrong, said the faceless bar stewards, Adebayor 'aimed a punch' at Frank Lampard. Hmmmm, well you see, you're giving yourself the same problem here aren't you? Because, you guessed it, the same footage shows that no such incident took place once again. D'oh!
Suspiciously, it took the boys from Soho Square a few days to levy the charge. An independent inquiry into the Football Association in 2004 (I think) was heavily critical of their infrastructure, the basis of the report was that the entire association needed to be altered drastically. One of the dominant criticisms was the inefficiency of their disciplinary procedure. So why the delay in the charge for Wenger? Was it to concoct this poorly constructed story that it was a misprint, the referee's report ACTUALLY said that Adebayor 'acted agressively.' The vagueness of that term makes it very hard to prove or disprove either way, it is bulletproof where the F.A are concerned because it is open to interpretation. It is not a cut and dry allegation, such as assault. You could say Adebayor 'acted agressively', but didn't Fabregas? Didn't Lampard? Didn't Drogba? Why the constant shapeshifting and back peddling? I would like to see a transcript of the referee's report, I bet there's more black marker on it than a transcript of George Bush's dishonourable discharge forms from the U.S Army. In fact, the whole charge has been so farcical, my immediate thought is that it is like a microcosm of the Watergate scandal. For Richard Nixon and Watergate, read the Carling Cup linesman and a blatant lie.
Do you know what I think happened (and by that token what most people think happened)? The linesman clearly mistook Eboue for Adebayor. Eboue of course raised his hands to Wayne Bridge, which, despite Bridge's lamentable histrionics (sorry, he's English isn't he? My mistake), is a red card offence and Eboue should have known better. The linesman and official Coward Webb (that's not a typo) do not want to admit their mistake for two reasons. The first is that quite frankly, they never do. Refereeing is a tough job, of that there is no doubt. But I think referees would command more respect if, just occasionally, they said, 'do you know what? Yes, I got it wrong. It was Eboue who should have been sent off, not Adebayor.' Mistakes happen and I think everybody would understand that and respect the official for correcting his error. But the Football Association have built a forcefield of pomposity around their officials which frustrates managers like Warnock, Jewell and Coleman (who were all effusive in their support for Wenger), referees are allowed to make huge mistakes without reprisal and managers are not allowed to even comment or they will be punished. Is that not the hallmark of a totalitarian government?
The second reason is that, because Eboue and Adebayor are black, the Football Association may have encountered some criticism and allegations of institutional racism (let's face it, mistaken identity can happen and that would have been a harsh accusation). But instead of having the confidence to shoot down such a suggestion, Adebayor must take the fall in the shape of a four match ban. This is a most cowardly action from an institution that has become narcissistic to the detriment of the game. The F.As moral bankruptcy in the whole issue has been really sad, it is a terrible indictment on our game that such a tissue of lies can be allowed to stand. Of course Wenger has responsibility here, regardless of how correct he is in his accustaion, he should have moderated his language slightly as he was never likely to curry favour with such accusatory vocabulary. That is, unless he said it in Portugese which is apparently o.k. At first, my frustration with the coverage of this 'incident' in the Carling Cup Final was how much scandal had ensued from such a nothing incident. The very real brawl that erupted between Valencia and Inter just two weeks later served to elucidate the 'storm in a teacup' nature of the melee. But now, it is the Football Association and their moral bankruptcy that I find most troubling. LD.
Date:Friday March 16 2007
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