An incident involving Diego Costa and Mousa Dembele during Monday’s heated match between London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur has left the latter with a six game ban for violent conduct. The game has since been labelled the “Battle of the Bridge”.
The incident saw the Belgium international eye-gouge Chelsea forward Costa. While Dembele was not sanctioned during the game, it was caught on video. It is debated whether an official saw the incident but chose to ignore it or not as certain angles of the incident show the linesmen looking directly at the incident that occurred. However many argue that as so much was happening at the time it is was easily missed.
Three game ban insufficient
In a statement earlier in the week The FA regarded the standard three-match ban ‘clearly insufficient’. While the midfielder accepted the charge of violent conduct he denied The FA’s claim.
The match saw nine Tottenham players booked, a record high in the Premier League and were arguably lucky that only one player was charged. However both clubs were charged for three breaches of the FA Rule E20 for failing to control their players and/or officials. The charges followed incidents in the 45th and 87th minutes of the game as well as at fulltime when a fight broke out as players entered the dressing room and resulted in Chelsea’s interim boss Guus Hiddink falling on the floor.
Tottenham will be without both Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli for the remained of the season due to respective bans, while they may also be without defenders Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose who both picked up injuries during the game.
Is the ban too high?
Stoke and former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given commented to BBC Radio 5 live that he believed the punishment was “way too high”. The ‘keeper added that he had “seen worse tackles” which have left “their opponent out for six to nine months” go unpunished or get the normal three match ban. Given believed that, looking back on footage “Dembele’s fingers weren’t right in his eye” and so it is “harsh” but understands that the FA “are trying to send a message” that behaviour like this isn’t acceptable.
Former West Brom striker Jason Roberts agreed. He added that Fellaini’s elbow on Huth “was much more dangerous and more of an issue” than this incident.
Obviously many fans believe that the ban is too high and it has been brought to attention that Chelsea captain John Terry received only four matches after racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, which is arguably a more serious offence. While fellow Blues player Fernando Torres escaped with no sanction after violently scratching Tottenham centre back Jan Vertonghen across the face in 2013. The severity of the ban compared to other offences has lead many people wondering what message The FA is trying to send as there is inconsistency throughout the sanctioning process.