Reds have responded to the FA’s decision not to take any action on William Gallas following his kick at Nani with disappointment more than surprise. The idea that an Arsenal player wouldn’t be dealt with appropriately when behaving inappropriately towards a United player is pretty easy to come to terms with. Despite the claims on the football forums that ‘Fergie has the FA in his back pocket’ when we are given a more favourable decision, as all teams are blessed with at times, as United fans we have seen the FA behave in absurd ways towards our team. All teams get decisions in their favour, wrongly or rightly, and it is usually the teams at the top that benefit from this more often than not. However, there seems to be the opinion that United are favoured more than most.
However, time and time again we have seen one rule for our players, another rule for someone else’s. The FA’s spineless action to let Gallas off for his petulant kick at our player is just the latest incident.
Gary Neville vs Robbie Fowler
Back in January 2006, United suffered derby day defeat at the council house, losing 3-1. City went 2-0 up before half time, only for Ruud to pull a goal back with 15 minutes to go, following a red card for Cristiano Ronaldo. As United clung on to some vague hope of being able to pull back another goal for a draw, Robbie Fowler scored in injury time goal to kill us off. The goal was scored in front of the away end, who Robbie Fowler ran past holding up his fingers and thumb, representing the five European Cups of Liverpool. As his team mates jumped on him to celebrate, he kept his hand up in front of the United fans, winding them up. He was playing for City and the closest he’d come to glory with Liverpool was winning the UEFA Cup, yet he stood there mocking our fans, gloating over us on behalf of dippers everywhere.
FA action: None
Eight days later, Liverpool travelled to Old Trafford. Their fans dish out the same torrid abuse we subjected Fowler to throughout the 90 minutes, with the game seemingly heading towards a 0-0 draw. Then, in injury time, Ryan Giggs delivered a perfect free kick which Rio Ferdinand headered with power past Pepe Reina. Ecstasy. Gary Neville celebrating like any red would, holding up his badge to the scousers and cheering. In a game now consumed by money making Neville displayed a rare moment of passion, a local lad celebrating an injury time winner against his fiercest rivals. Was his provocation any worse, considering his own team had just won the match, in comparison to Fowler using the bragging rights of a former club with the intention of winding up United fans? Apparently so.
FA action: £5k fine
Anyone else? Well, after Joey Barton scored an injury time winner at Goodison Park in 2006, he pulled down his shorts and flashed his arse to the disabled section of the ground. FA fined him £2000.
Rio Ferdinand vs Christian Negouai
Christian Negouai, is the former Manchester City midfielder who Keegan claimed was “the most exciting player” he’d ever signed, costing them £1.5 million back in 2001. He also missed a drugs test in 2003 and his excuses for not giving a urine sample are rather confusing. One story suggests he had to pick his mum up from the airport, whilst another given was because the test was scheduled during the time of Ramadan, when Muslims cannot drink water during daylight hours. Fair do’s, the FA couldn’t have expected to force him to break the fast, and maybe I should have asked more Muslims before writing this piece, but surely Muslims take a leak during daylight hours when fasting?
FA action: £2000 fine. No ban
Later that year, Rio Ferdinand was one of the four United players selected at random to be tested for drugs. The players were required to stay after training to take part, but Ferdinand claims he forgot, and left the training ground, only to go out shopping in town. Although submitting follicle testing the next day, where he was shown to be clean, this evidence was thrown out. The ban was slapped on him, United’s season was left in tatters, then England were dumped out of Euro 2004 in the summer after massive defensive errors.
FA action: £50,000 fine. 8 month ban.
Rooney and Scholes vs Gerrard and Mellor
In the pre-season 2003, Liverpool travelled to the Amsterdam Tournament. They lost 2-1 to Porto with both Steven Gerrard and Neil Mellor being sent off. In a bad tempered match, Mellor’s sending off was a straight red, whereas Gerrard got two yellows, the second of which coming for giving the referee too much lip. “The only good thing about the match is that the red cards won’t have any consequences,” Houllier, the Liverpool manager, said after the game.
FA action: None
Three years later, United travelled to the Amsterdam tournament in preparation for what would become our title winning season. In our victory over Porto, both Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes were sent off. Rooney’s red card was not even worthy off a booking, whilst Scholes walked for two yellow cards.
FA action: Three match bans in the league for both players
Anything else? In the same tournament, with Liverpool taking our place after United refused to take part, a fight kicked off between Liverpool and Feyenoord. Steven Gerrard, who had nothing to do with the incident that created the fuss, waded in and slapped a player across the face. No action was taken by the FA.
It is pretty obvious that William Gallas intentionally kicked out at Nani on Saturday evening, following the young Portuguese’s showboating when we were 4-0 up. Justin Hoyte kicked at Nani first, followed by Flamini flying in on the player. When the ball was down at the other end of the field, Gallas kicked at Nani’s heels. Nani released the ball and Gallas kicked him again.
The FA reviewed the tape but deemed this acceptable behaviour. By taking no action on Gallas they are essentially saying that it is alright for players to go around kicking each other. They are saying if you show silky skills, light up a football match, then it is OK for another player to kick you for it. You think the greatest talents around the World are going to be drawn to a league where the football governing body sends out these kind of messages?
“Obviously, a lot of clubs will be disappointed because of their players who have suffered from a respective view of incidents,” Ferguson said yesterday. “It was obviously very difficult for him in the second half and there could have been three or four red cards for Arsenal. The important thing was that everyone has been made aware of the incident, that’s the thing we don’t need to answer to. We’re happy to leave it now.”
Just as I asked after the poor ruling from the FA was announced, would Wayne Rooney be let off if he had kicked an Arsenal player? The answer is all too obvious, of course he wouldn’t, and the FA’s unequal treatment of our club continues…