I am concerned and disappointed that the Football Association has seen Bruno Fernandes’ push on an official and glossed over it. At the very least, Fernandes needs to be charged by the FA and then go through the disciplinary processes. What is the message being sent out here, with no further action taken?
The people making the decision for him not to face punishment will need to look at their processes here. The incident was not deemed serious enough to put in the referees’ report on the game so Fernandes escaped – but you cannot, in any circumstances, put your hands on an official.
I would ban any player for touching an official for one match, and then the punishment can be increased in line with the severity of the offense. We all saw the video – and the VAR did too – and you can see Fernandes’ frustration, you can see his arm bent into pushing the assistant. He knew exactly what he was doing and getting him off set the wrong precedent.
I am simply amazed Fernandes does not face any further investigation or punishment and the FA have missed the point entirely – what message does this send out to officials, and players, at all levels? Players will look at Fernandes getting away with it and will feel they could do the same. And what about referees and assistants at the grassroots level? Plenty of officials have walked away from the game due to the rise of physical confrontations and abuse and yet what the FA have done here with Fernandes is to essentially say it is okay to push an official.
What happens the next time Bruno Fernandes, or another player – at any level – loses their cool? They have seen that you can get away with it.
It’s different for referees. I can recall an incident many years ago in the Premier League where, in the heat of a mass confrontation, an assistant had to pull players apart and he was caught by a flailing arm, which caused him to have a detached retina and he had to go to the hospital. Under no circumstances should a player be allowed to put their hands on a referee.
Do you remember the incident with Paolo Di Canio, and referee Paul Alcock, in the Sheffield Wednesday match with Arsenal? He pushed Paul over – okay, the video at the time was amusing but Paul would later tell me he simply lost his balance. The difference here is that Di Canio received a ban for 11 matches. If you then recall, Di Canio received an award for sportsmanship when he chose not to score a certain goal when Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was down injured. The FA set the right example by punishing Di Canio in the first incident and he showed he learned his lesson.
It’s different in the Premier League and professional football, where referees are flanked by security and have police escorts at matches. This is not the case in grassroots football and yet those at that level must have watched what happened on Sunday and wondered whether they will fall victim to something similar.