Not since a warm summer evening in Washington, D.C. in 1972 has there been a scandal of this magnitude involving the word “water.” Back then, it was the Watergate hotel, which eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Now, it’s a water bottle. Ladies and gentlemen, we have WaterBottleGate.
At some point during Wednesday’s draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, Unai Emery kicked a water bottle across the technical area. He appears to have been frustrated with something one of his players did. Given how the Gunners played, can you blame him?
The water bottle flew into the stands and hit a fan. Emery immediately went over, apologized, and shook the fan’s hand. He went back after the match to apologize for a second time. In his post-match comments, he admitted that the bottle did hit someone but that it did not hit them very hard.
The FA is investigating the incident and could take disciplinary action against Emery. In 2016, Jose Mourinho was sent off and served an additional one-match touchline ban for kicking a water bottle after Paul Pogba was booked for diving. There is a slight difference between the two situations — Mourinho’s water bottle kick was a reaction to the referee, Emery was reacting to one of his own players. While that cuts in Emery’s favor, that the bottle hit a fan is probably enough for the FA to mete out a punishment.
There are unconfirmed reports (that I have completely made up) that Unai Emery tried to have the recordings destroyed before the authorities could get to them, but alas, the FA beat him to the punch. It’s also not clear where the media are getting their information. They must have an inside source. Could Arsene Wenger be the new Deep Throat?
Should Emery receive a touchline ban, he would likely serve it during the match against Liverpool at Anfield this Saturday.
UPDATE 9.35AM: Turns out he probably won’t miss Liverpool. He’s been given a week to explain his actions:
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been charged following the game against Brighton yesterday [26 December 2018]. It is alleged his action of kicking a water bottle during the fixture amounts to improper conduct. He has until 6pm on 2 January 2019 to respond to the charge. pic.twitter.com/328CMCoAGT— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) December 27, 2018
Unless he admits improper conduct today, he will probably be on the touchline this weekend. That means, if he waits until Jan 2nd to answer the charge, the game he would miss if the FA find against him would be Blackpool on the 5th.