Few things are more infuriating in football that dangerous tackling. Even more enraging, however, is seeing such conduct go unpunished.

Dangerous | Wigan Athletic midfielder Callum McManaman catches Newcastle United defender Massadio Haïdara in a challenge that saw the latter stretchered off. (Image | Daily Mail)

Dangerous | Wigan Athletic midfielder Callum McManaman catches Newcastle United defender Massadio Haïdara in a challenge that saw the latter stretchered off. (Image | Daily Mail)

Like so many in the game, the decision by the Football Association not to take retrospective action against Callum McManaman of Wigan Athletic, for his egregious challenge on Newcastle United defender Massadio Haïdara, left me disgusted.

Personally, I feel the criticism being aimed towards McManaman should focus solely on his challenge. One should look at what the player did, rather than make judgements on him as an individual.

The point of this is not to speak about McManaman but to shine a spotlight on the FA’s antiquated disciplinary process.

Their reasoning for allowing the on-field decision to stand is that it was judged to be a clean tackle during the game, and as such, cannot be changed according to FIFA rules.

Mark Halsey, the match referee, said that he had not seen the challenge, and replays reveal that his view of the incident was obscured.

However, once assistant referee Matthew Wilkes said that he had seen the tackle, it stopped further action being taken, even though Wilkes said he did not spot the “full extent of the challenge”.

Therefore, are the FA making their judgement based on the obscured line of sight of the referee’s assistant?

Disinterested

Personally, there are only two ways in which I can slice this. Those working at the FA that reach such verdicts are either grossly incompetent, or as far as I am concerned, do not particularly care about the safety of their workforce.

I will say that again. The FA does not particularly care about the safety of its workforce. An incendiary statement, maybe. Not only is this wilful negligence on their part, it is repeated wilful negligence.

A week ago, it was Massadio Haïdara. In the past it has been Moussa DembéléAbou DiabyIan HumeEduardo Da SilvaHatem Ben Arfa and Aaron Ramsey. Punitive measures in some, but not all, of these cases have resulted in no more than three match bans.

Explaining the reason for being unable to take further action, the FA claims that FIFA has ruled that the decision of the match official must be final.

However, when speaking on this topic in 2011, Sepp Blatter said: “This is up to the discretion of the national association. If there is violence, the national association can intervene and punish a player.”

With this in mind, it appears that the guardians of the game in this country are guilty of being both spineless and mischievous. It turns out that their hands are not tied by FIFA after all, so why are the FA so disinterested?

There is, however, an exception to this rule. Football’s governing bodies have proven themselves to be nothing if not rigid down the years. The FA can change, but it must have a compelling reason to do so.

As players continue to endanger their peers, knowing that the penalties are light, eventually injuries will not be inflicted on players such as Dembélé or Hume, but Jack Wilshere, Gareth Bale, or Tom Cleverley.

Horror | Tackles such as this, which broke Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey's leg, have gone unpunished and under-punished for too long. (Image | Daily Mail)

Horror | Tackles such as this, which broke Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey’s leg, have gone unpunished and under-punished for too long. (Image | Daily Mail)

An incident, or series of them, will force the FA to react. Outrage from the press and on social media will spiral and it will be the main talking point for weeks.

FIFA has already backtracked with its stance on goal-line technology. Heading into the 2010 World Cup, Sepp Blatter said that it would never happen while he was in charge.

That was until Frank Lampard had a perfectly good goal disallowed in a last-16 game against Germany. This led Blatter to perform a volte-face that Judas Iscariot would have been proud of.

Expect the same reaction from the FA once a prized British player is on the receiving end of a reckless tackle.

Those that have been endangered by their fellow professionals (with Ramsey the exception) are all foreigners, tying in to the ridiculous stereotype of overseas players being intrinsically weaker than their British counterparts.

Behaving reactively is not good enough, however. Especially as many other leagues around the world are prepared to act after the final whistle to punish dangerous play.

Ligue 1 in France banned Nice midfielder Valentin Eysseric for 11 matches after this horrific tackle on Jérémy Clément of St. Etienne. Both codes of rugby are also swift to act when it comes to violent conduct on the pitch.

Footballers should not be made exempt from the duty of care they have towards their peers, but why should they act with any responsibility and attention when the people in charge of the domestic game refuse to do so?

While the FA continues to sit on its hands, it is complicit in the outcome of every player injured as a result of a tackle that has no place in football.

After what happened to Haïdara, some are holding McManaman in contempt. Personally, I am reserving my contempt for the FA. If anyone deserves a disrepute charge, the FA does.

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