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Deducting points, a coin throwing player, and premeditated crime by a corrupt system

By Tony Attwood

20 October 1990: a little bit of argy bargy was described by saliva dripping journalists as a “21 player brawl”.   Arsenal won 1–0 and went on a staggering run (losing just one match all season) winning the league for the second time in three seasons.

The League set up a commission to enquire into this latest “handbags at 30 paces” affair and deducted two points from Arsenal and one from Man U.  But, please note, we still won the league.  There was a wonderful song to commemorate the affair, to which I have referred in the past.

I think I am right in saying that no other club had ever suffered such a point deducting punishment for player activity on the pitch – either before or since.  If I am wrong I am sure you will tell me.

Way back in the 19th century Arsenal had another run in with the powers, as in 1895 Arsenal’s ground was closed for five weeks following crowd trouble.  No other club had ever suffered such a punishment before.   Somehow the authorities like to pick on Arsenal first.

In the 1895 affair the league matches against Burton Swifts and Leicester Fosse were played New Brompton and Leyton.

As the Premier league now considers what to do about a Liverpool player who has twice bitten opponents,  J Carragher (the man who threw a coin at the crowd at Highbury, after an idiot had thrown it towards him) has said that biting should only have a 3 game punishment – exactly the same as he got for throwing a coin at the crowd.

I would have thought both crimes should have a much greater punishment, but I am sure Liverpool public relations team know what they are doing in supporting their club’s image in this way.

But enough of this home tittle tattle.  Let’s move on swiftly to Mount Olympus.  On the day that we celebrate the last ever match Arsenal played in the second division AEK Athens have been relegated to their second division for the first time in 89 years.  (Arsenal’s last game in the second division was 98 years ago today – in case you can’t be bothered to read my stunning article on the subject).

This comes again through a points deduction – which was imposed for crowd violence at the AEK v Panthrakikos game on 14 April.  Unlike the Man U v Arsenal game which carried on perfectly normally after the “fracas” (which reminds me – do fracas only happen at football matches – and come to that what is the plural of “fracas”), the AEK game was abandoned after a pitch invasion.

The game was put down as a 3-0 defeat for AEK, they got three points deducted and fined a massive €4,000.  OK the use of “massive” was sarcasm.

AEK have called the relegation a “premeditated crime by a corrupt system”.   I rather suspect Socrates could have found something a bit better to say on the matter and I am still not quite sure what on earth they meant by that.

Apart from all that AEK are just about bust.  The whole first team was sold last summer, and they are edging along day by day.  Giorgos Katidis was banned for five matches, fined a whopping €1,000 for giving a Nazi salute.  (Which is interesting.  Are all political commentaries in all forms liable to get a fine or points deduction?  I mean if I played in a tee-shirt saying “I detest the Liberal Democrats for abandoning their policy on university fees” could my five a side club be deducted points?)

It is interesting though – you can get points deducted seemingly for the action of players (but not a player throwing a coin into the crowd nor one player biting another) and for the action of the fans (but not Tottenham fans for a game-long homophobic display at Portsmouth, which was about the most appalling thing I have ever come across in English football).

This precedent is dangerous, given the action of a few Millwall supporters who had a bit of a fight at the cup semi-final.  Since there are no proper rules laid down for point deductions, no one can ever be sure which way the League or FA will jump on any infringement now.  But it might be worth a few guys starting a punch up to try and get a club’s ground closed.  Surely the AAA would never go so far!  Would they?

We await the next bizarre or repellent action by fans or players, to see what officialdom does in response.  But one thing is quite clear – whatever happens, there will be no consistency in whatever punishments the officials hand out on that day.

Just make it up as you go along.

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The books…

19 comments to Deducting points, a coin throwing player, and premeditated crime by a corrupt system

  • Mike

    And players (or ex-players) saying Suarez didn’t actually do any harm so why should it be more than a normal ban but those same players endorsing an eight or nine match ban (PV4) for spitting……..which can obviously seriously hurt someone. The FA have no morals, no values and no consistency…………..well apart from the fact that some clubs are shown a huge bias for and others are consistently treated badly.

  • Dan T

    I find the Nazi salute a very strange one. Is it even legal to punish somebody for their political beliefs?

    Personally I think fascism is disgusting and perhaps the intolerant beliefs of fascists deserve not be tolerated in return.

    However, at the end of the day are we not free to believe what we want to believe? You bring up the point of wearing a lib dem t-shirt and I think this is a good comparison. Would a player be punished for a socialist salute (if there were one)? If it were a religious belief somebody was getting punished for there would be uproar.

    I just find it a very cloudy issue. For instance the amount of bad press Di Canio has had for being a self-declared fascist and the amount of abuse he has received on the back of it. Imagine if he had the same bad press and abuse for being a Muslim (or other religious beliefs)…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Tony , I think “fracas ” is plural as it involves two or more persons .The logical singular form would be “fracaii” ,in my humble opinion ,although very few people on their own can cause
    one !
    Conan , Rambo , Van Damme ,Chuck Norris , Joey Barton and Mario Bellotelli readily spring to mind ! Louis Suarez can’t be all that far behind behind !

  • Shard

    Dan T

    Careful, or you’ll be accused of being a Nazi sympathiser, or called an idiot who better watch out since Nazis will kick your head in if you don’t hate them, as I was when I made the same point a few weeks ago!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    By the way ,I’ve always loved Anders Limpar for starting that!
    And Martin Keown “patting” Von Nilsteroy after his penalty miss is not far behind.
    Maybe we can show these and other similar ‘highlights’ on the large screen when ManUre run on to the pitch .
    Or ask for an extended silence in remembrance of dear Maggie !
    Oh ,wait that may really cause a right fracas !

  • Gord

    Suarez got 10 games. He had announced he will appeal anything over 3.

  • John

    Don’t know if 10 games is appropriate for biting. However, something seems seriously wrong if Shawcross only gets 3 games for shattering a player’s leg, which is exactly the same as Giroud has got at present.

  • Gord

    The object of the disciplinary process is to curb behavior. Having been previously banned for 7 games for biting and 8 games for racism has gotten his attention, this ban had to be longer. One news article suggested the maximum ban that could have been issued was 12 games. I was hoping for 42 games (remainder of this year, all of next year).

  • Gord

    Oops, should read, “has NOT gotten his attention”. Not enough coffee.

  • ian

    Carragher should have been banned from Highbury / Emirates for life and you could argue all grounds in the UK.

    With regards to people like Shawcross getting longer bans I think it will take a Man Utd player to get hurt before the British media starts talking about longer bans. Maybe he should have not been eligible to play until Ramsey was declared fit.

    All seems a bit strange that the unsociable behaviour of spitting and biting (both of which are disgusting) seem to warrant longer bans than assault. However without wanting to get drawn in to politics we do live in a society where prison sentences are longer for theft than they are for murder.

  • Gf60

    Dan T. I’m not sure that I’d try to cross myself at a game say in Saudi Arabia? Suspicion is that a Nazi salute may go down well there.

    Interesting comment this am from a scouse lady. ” I blame his mother. First thing you do with kids is to teach them not to bite.” Personally I would have given him 20 games at least. Repeat offender not to mention a very talented but nasty piece of work.

  • @blacksheep63

    one thing you are all missing here is that when Liverpool were 0-3 down to Milan in the CL final in May 2005 new manager, Rafa Benitez, popped into a side room in the Ataturk stadium and called on supernatural support. Having painted a white circle on the floor he summoned Mephistophilis and made a pact, Faustus like, with the devil. In return for winning the CL (on penalties, old Nick enjoys the sudden death element) Benitez agreed that Liverpoor would have no good luck for at least 20 years. The rest as they say, is history. No more CL, not even finishing above Everton most seasons, Woy Hodgson, paying £20m for Stewart Downing and Suarez’s many bans. Indeed it has already been agreed that when the little biter is back he will insult Kenny Dalgleish in public and be ritually drowned in scouse (the tasty stew so beloved by liverpuddlians) in front of the kop (a name they pinched from us). So now you know

  • Sav from Australia

    Isn’t a ‘nazi’ salute actually the old Roman salute?

    I watched a movie about space nazis. Hilarious lol.

  • Shard

    Sav

    Yes it is.

    And I presume you mean Iron Sky? That was I believe a crowd funded film where people contributed the money and some of them got roles as extras or as part of the design team 🙂

  • uk

    And AKBs say other arsenal fans love to whinge.

  • Shard

    You’re having a whinge now!

  • weedonald

    Shard….what is a whinge? do you mean a whine?

    Most civilized nations including Spain, Germany, Holland,Italy, Greece and Austria,do not allow Nazi demonstrations, salutes or any other public displays and I am sure most other EU members do not allow it as well. My father fought against those demons and to say that it isn’t too serious to perform the Hitlergruesse is to say that WW2 was a tea party and should be forgotten. Lest we forget!

  • Mahesh

    @Weedonald

    Regarding the definition of whinge, you can easily find it on google:

    whinge

    /(h)winj/

    Verb

    Complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.

    Noun

    An act of complaining in such a way.

    Synonyms

    whine

  • Shard

    weedonald

    The person I noted was having a whinge (I always assumed whinge was the British term for whine) was the guy above me in the comments section.

    As to the Nazi stuff.. All well and good. But there are things which cannot be justified purely logically. As in, it isn’t consistent. You feel strongly enough about it to forego that consistency. It might be the right thing to do too. That still doesn’t make it consistent, and pointing that out doesn’t make anyone a Nazi sympathiser.