The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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English body flays Blatter fiat

London: The head of the English footballers’ union has slammed Fifa’s introduction of an automatic one-match ban for players who get sent off as “farcical.”

The surprise decision was announced by Fifa president Sepp Blatter Tuesday after a meeting of Fifa’s executive committee in Zurich. Blatter said the aim was to protect referees. “If we cast doubt over a referee’s decision, we cast doubt over all of football,” Blatter said.

The Fifa ruling is to apply to all leagues and championships worldwide and will take effect as soon as national football associations receive Fifa’s circular on the decision.

The move, expected to be implemented next month, will mean big changes in English football, where red card bans are not implemented for two weeks after the incident and are often overturned by video evidence.

There is no right of appeal unless extra suspensions are imposed above the one-game ban or possibly if there is a claim of mistaken identity.

Taylor said that rather than strengthen the referee’s position the move will leave them open to further criticism.

“Technology is there to show an error has been made but you are going to get an Alice in Wonderland situation where the whole world can see an error but they carry on,” the Professional Footballers’ Association’s chief executive said. “They (Fifa) need to be a lot more practical and realistic in this day and age.

“It is akin to having someone in jail, finding out you have jailed the wrong man and yet the man stays in jail for a number of years. It is farcical.”

Taylor warned that Fifa’s decision could undo all the work to bring players and referees closer together, which has taken place over the last few years. “In fairness to referees, they have been big enough to accept they have made mistakes,” Taylor said.

“The referee is only human and there is nothing wrong in him saying he has made a mistake and as a result co-operation between them (players and officials) has been better. It puts referees in an invidious position because they can now be attacked on this as well. It is not good for referees.”

Announcing the move, Blatter was categoric about his opposition to appeals. “No evidence of scientific help — cameras, video or other — shall change this situation,” Blatter insisted, although he suggested there might be some leeway with cases of mistaken identity.

The move followed an incident at a Swiss league match between Zurich club Grasshopper and FC Basel last month when the grasshopper goalkeeper was sent off for a foul on the opposing team’s striker. However, a Swiss disciplinary body decided not to suspend the Grasshoppers player. Video replays indicated that the goalkeeper had not touched the striker.

“The executive committee looked at this and found that the Swiss federation was not the only one, we had the same in the Spanish League and in England,” Blatter said.

Blatter was re-elected to head Fifa in Seoul in may following a bruising leadership race which triggered accusations of abuse of power and financial mismanagement against the Swiss Fifa president. (AFP)

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