Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Reaction to UEFA ban for Chelsea duo Drogba and Bosingwa

As a Chelsea fan I often find it difficult to gauge my reaction to news on the club against what it would be if I supported another team. I try to reconcile this with the fact that I have more detailed knowledge of the club than most analysts who cover the sport in general, but it still makes reporting the team in an impartial manner an awkward exercise.

When it comes to today's announcement on the suspensions handed out as a result of Didier Drogba and José Bosingwa's actions following Chelsea's Champions League elimination tie against Barcelona, I wonder if they are a little harsh.

I am not going to defend Drogba or Bosingwa, nor will I excuse their actions in the mitigating circumstances that unfurled at Stamford Bridge that night because at no point is it ever acceptable to remonstrate, insult or abuse match officials, especially in that manner.

However, the bans do seem a fraction on the harsh side, possibly blown up by the media circus that a) surrounds Champions League semi-final games and b) subsequently exploded by the horrific refereeing display of Tom Henning Øvrebø.

At present, three match bans are standard for serious and direct red card offences (note Danny Guthrie's ban after his awful challenge on Craig Fagan); Drogba has received a 4 game ban with two extra suspended and Bosingwa will be absent for two and potentially one other on top.

UEFA has precedence in terms of disciplining after the event; remember Alan Shearer being suspended for two games after the match official missed a premeditated elbow on Inter Milan's Fabio Cannavaro? The ban was shortened (probably by one game) for the provocation of the Italian defender.

Or the less well publicised suspension of Bordeaux's Johan Micoud for insulting comments aimed at match official in a UEFA Cup tie? The Frenchman missed two matches as a result.

Both are incongruous with today's decision.

The decision sends out the message that on field acts of violent, serious foul play or reckless, dangerous challenges are less problematic and bad for the game than players histrionically causing a scene and abusing a referee. Pardon the phrase: both should be stamped out, but am I alone in thinking the former is worse than the latter?

One positive in terms of the balance of the decision is the fact that the club and the two players involved may appeal. Dropping a third from the total number of fined games will result in fairer justice, at least in my opinion.

As a side note for Blues' fans, the club was fined €100,000, partly for the conduct of fans in throwing those most ubiquitous of soccer weapons, "missiles". There has been nothing written in defence of these people, provoked by the unreported actions of Barcelona's Gerard Pique, who in the post post-match celebrations, ran towards a purely Chelsea section of the ground and celebrated wildly at the supporters.

I'd be very interested to hear your opinions on the subject.

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