FA forces through new rule over retrospective punishment

Players who are involved in flashpoints can now face sanction even if the official has seen the incident, which would have landed Callum McManaman and Fernando Torres in trouble
The Football Association has forced through a new rule which has placed players at a higher risk of facing retrospective action.

Players who are involved in acts of violent conduct will now face punishment from the FA, even if a match official saw the incident during the match.

Earlier this season, Chelsea striker Fernando Torres escaped a ban after scratching Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen because the incident was seen by an official, while Callum McManaman evaded punishment in 2012-13 despite a knee-high challenge on Massadio Haidara.

Any acts of violence from players that occur "secondarily" to a challenge for the ball can now be punished, as well as incidents off the ball which match officials may have seen but may not have taken action against during the match.

The new ruling will be introduced after the international break on November 22, rather than at the end of the season.

The FA's director of governance Darren Bailey said: “This enables The FA to consider acts of violent conduct, like an elbow or a stamp, which have occurred after a challenge for the ball or coming together of players.

“It is sometimes difficult for officials to see such incidents, as they are often concentrating solely on the challenge for possession of the ball, and we are mindful of this. Also, where off-the-ball incidents are concerned, the policy adjustment will allow action to be taken where an act of misconduct could not have been seen by the match officials, even though they may have seen some part of the players coming together.

“This is an important step forward for the game and provides an appropriate level of discretion for The FA to consider action. However, we remain of the view that the best outcome for all is that referees are able to make correct judgements on the day to benefit the teams involved.”