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Thursday Cannon Fodder: patterns

Manchester City Women v Arsenal Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, a referee makes a questionable (read: wrong) decision, Arsenal players rightfully protest, and the FA charges the club with “failing to control their players” or however they phrase that nonsense.

Sounds like Arsenal against Manchester City, right?

Well now we’ve had that happen twice! For the men and for the women. Neat!

In Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with City over the weekend, the ball hit the referee and deflected to a City player. City took it down the field and scored. The problem is when the ball hits the referee, they’re supposed to stop play unless they determine that no advantage was gained and / or the ball didn’t change possession as a result of hitting them. There is slight leeway in the Laws about the ball hitting the referee, but in practice, it’s pretty much if the ball hits a ref - dropped ball.

Except that didn’t happen against Manchester City. A City pass that likely would have been intercepted by Arsenal deflected off the referee straight to another Manchester City player. Shortly thereafter, the Gunners were pulling the ball out of their own net. Arsenal protested (not that it ever does any good) and Jonas Eidevall was booked.

On the men’s side, it was Gabriel Magalhaes picking up two quick bookings, one for dissent and one for a foul that saw him sent off against Manchester City in a match that it looked likely the Gunners were going to earn an unexpected result.

In both cases, the referee almost certainly got a decision wrong. The concerning and disappointing trend is that the FA, instead of working to improve the quality of the refereeing or admitting a mistake, has now twice chosen to double down and come after Arsenal for having the temerity to tell their referees they screwed up.

I look forward to the deluge of other, similar charges for similar incidents perpetrated by every team in every match. Because what the Arsenal players did in both instances happens every weekend. But I’m not holding my breath.