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Jul 12, 2013

Rule change on unpunished challenges

The FA has introduced tougher rules to deal with dangerous challenges that are missed by officials, and therefore not punished, during matches.

The move comes after the furore over a high and dangerous tackle by Wigan midfielder Callum McManaman injured Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara in a game at the DW Stadium in March.

The challenge was missed by referee Mark Halsey, whose view was obscured by another player. But the FA said retrospective action could only have been taken if none of the officials had seen the incident clearly, finding that one had "seen the coming together, but not the extent of it".

"Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge," the governing body said. "This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents."

The McManaman controversy - he was not charged over the incident - deepened when Halsey said he would have shown the Wigan man a straight red card had he seen what had happened.

The Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers' Association, League Managers Association and Professional Game Match Officials - the so-called "stakeholder" group - had agreed that such challenges could not be retrospectively dealt with except in "exceptional circumstances" - which did not apply to poor tackles.

Last season, the "exceptional circumstances" justification was used to punish Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and to ban Brighton's Ashley Barnes for seven games after he had tripped a referee.

From the start of next season, it will also apply to incidents such as the McManaman challenge after the FA decided stronger powers were needed and the "stakeholders" accepted the change.

Nevertheless, if an assistant referee or the fourth official has a "clear and close", rather than obscured, view of an unpunished incident, there will be no retrospective action.

"From the start of the new season, The FA will reserve the right to take retrospective action when match officials are not in a position to fully assess a 'coming together' of players," an FA statement read.

"The amendment follows a tackle last season involving Wigan's Callum McManaman and Newcastle United's Massadio Haidara in which the match referee's view of the incident was blocked whilst the other match officials were not in a position to judge exactly what had occurred.

"Prior to this change, which was ratified by The Football Regulatory Authority, The FA was only able to take retrospective action when none of the match officials had seen the 'coming together' or when the incident was truly exceptional, for example, in the case of Ben Thatcher's challenge on Pedro Mendes.

"This change is not intended to usurp the authority of the match officials who are, in the vast majority of cases, best-placed to deal with incidents at the time they occur. It will only be utilised in the rare circumstances outlined above."

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