The Football Association has amended its rules to close the loophole that prevented Fernando Torres being charged for scratching Jan Vertonghen’s face.
Torres was filmed raising his hand to Vertonghen’s face during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Sept. 28, with referee Mike Dean booking the striker for the coming together but having apparently failed to recognise the extent of the Spaniard’s reaction.
There had been calls for retrospective action to be taken but, as an official had “partially seen” the incident, FA rules decreed that the matter had been dealt with at the time and so it could not be revisited.
Greg Dyke, the new FA chairman, then indicated that he planned to close the loophole and, as of Nov. 22, new rules will allow for charges to be brought even in instances where officials have seen part of the incident.
The new rules will now cover:
• Acts of violent conduct that occur secondarily to a challenge for the ball
• Off-the-ball incidents where one or more match official did see the players coming together, but the match officials' view was such that none of them had the opportunity to make a decision on an act of misconduct that took place within that coming together
FA 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.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.