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Quickest to the punch


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176520hp2.jpgBranislav Ivanovic was the hero-turned-villain following Saturday's victory over Wigan.

After volleying the Blues ahead - albeit from an offside position - Ivanovic then blocked Franco di Santo's goalbound effort with a very, very good piece of covering defending after Ryan Bertrand and Petr Cech got themselves in a bit of a muddle.

The Blues went on to triumph thanks to Juan Mata's late, late goal; the Spaniard converting at the far post after Fernando Torres had sent a brilliant volley crashing against the post, but television footage has shown Ivanovic to be guilty of

. His goal-line block might have rubbed salt in gaping Wigan wounds after his offside goal moments beforehand - but on this occasion, it was he, and not the linesman, who was inflicting the wound itself.

Having watched the footage, it is hard to offer any sort of defence for the Serbian's actions. He quite clearly hits Maloney in the small of the back with his first; an action warranting a three-match ban for violent conduct (,for that is the equivalent punishment doled out if the referee sees it and waves his red card). Should he be found guilty, Ivanovic will miss crunch fixtures in Chelsea's end-of-season run-in; with the possibility of a ban being imposed ahead of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham a likelihood. The Blues number 2 would also miss key London derbies away at Arsenal and against Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge.

However, what the media are not focusing on is what happened previously. Having replayed the match in its entirety, the pair are at each other well before the actual incident; holding one-another in the penalty areas whilst waiting for corners, as well as having the odd word or two to say when jogging back up the pitch.

The footage shows Maloney swing an elbow at the Serb, prompting Ivanovic's understandably angry reaction.

This is not some sort of comical appeal to the FA begging for forgiveness, like Liverpool did with Luis Suarez and the allegations of a racist remark he made to Manchester United captain Patrice Evra. Do not expect to see #JusticeForIvanovic trending on Twitter any time soon, nor will John Terry and company warm up in 'BRANISLAV IS INNOCENT' t-shirts on Sunday evening.

Nevertheless, the FA need to be careful if they are to set a precedent with this incident.

What Ivanovic did was wrong, and if the referee would have seen it, he would no doubt have been shown a red card - hence the reason for retrospective action by the FA. Yet should the referee have reviewed the incident, he would have noted that Maloney provoked the Chelsea defender, and would probably have been shown at least a yellow card for his role in the fracas. Maybe even a red; let's be fair - swinging an elbow is hardly an acceptable action.

If that is the case, then what of the FA's intention - or lack of, rather - to punish Maloney? I have already expressed views of an anti-Chelsea bias in the media in the past few days, and this forms a perfect case study in support of that particular argument. Between them, the British media and the FA seem to be making punishment and vilification of Chelsea Football Club the norm. Where is the condemnation of Manchester City's Yaya Toure after his

in December's meeting between the two sides, for instance?

But for the sake of repetition, let's not get back onto that argument again.

My point is simple - the FA are treading on incredibly thin ice. Of course I can see why they would seek to impose a punishment on Ivanovic, but this path is a particularly slippery route. This sort of thing needs eradicating from the game, and harsh penalties put in place by the governing bodies would serve that purpose well. Similarly, condemnation of the sort of behaviour Ivanovic expressed is a positive move to take when it comes to seeing footballers as role-models; we do not want to see children replicate such base aggression in their Sunday league matches.

Yet if the FA are to go ahead with this, it has to become a consistent policy. Singling out certain incidents will only cause aggravation for supporters and leave players like Ivanovic aggrieved that their own idiocy is (quite rightly) punished, whilst thugs like Nigel de Jong go on without facing the consequences of their actions. This is a slippery slope indeed, and soon we will see incident after incident reviewed.

That is not necessarily a bad thing - it does not take authority away from the referee whilst reinforcing a sense of discipline in the minds of the players, who will know their every move could be potentially discriminated against.

But this Big Brother system demands consistency. On so many occasions in the past, the FA have adopted a zero-tolerance stance against this sort of behaviour before suddenly becoming more lenient and allowing other things to pass. Maintaining this aforementioned state of consistent retrospective action is the difficulty, however. Furthermore, where would we draw the line between using this for corrective action, or using it to entirely officiate the game?

The line needs to be drawn at a simple level; using video technology retrospectively to pick up on incidents that referees miss. Overruling on-pitch decisions is both patronising and an insult to professional officials, but highlighting what they do not take action on in matches will also encourage them to try and be more comprehensive in the way they officiate the game.

This would be a big step towards bringing in video refereeing, but that is way down football's to-do list. Goalline technology is needed first and foremost, but having a dedicated panel that are instructed to review incidents in matches will be an effective way of Guinea-pigging potential video refereeing technologies. 'Third-eye' cameras and other appropriate technologies would have to be installed, but if this helps towards sorting out incidents such as this Ivanovic punch, then it can only be for the good of the game regardless of the expense.

I just beg the FA to be both firm and consistent over whatever action they may take.

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Video refereeing will slow the game down. With some of the games being played at rapid pace, using 'hawk-eye' for every petty incident will kill the game.

Goal-line technology on the other hand would be a good addition to the game although Uefa's idea of a referee near the goal-line is not bad since it gives extra eyes on the game and not just on the goal-line. Having said that, the goal-line assistant ref failed to give a clear penalty against didier drogba in the napoli game

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Those goal-line assistants are only there for what their name states. They cannot help with anything else on the field. Stupid, but that's how it is. At least I think so, cause I've never seen any of them be involved in anything yet.

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Those goal-line assistants are only there for what their name states. They cannot help with anything else on the field. Stupid, but that's how it is. At least I think so, cause I've never seen any of them be involved in anything yet.

they did get involved in the napoli game. made an incorrect penalty decision

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I don't think the FA makes the decisions. They always seem to ask the referee who officiated the game what decision he would have given if he'd seen the foul, which is ridiculous. It's as if the FA thinks that all their officials are impartial and competent, but they obviously aren't, which is why Clattenburg clearly saw Rooney elbow a Wigan player in the face last season and, instead of sending him off, had a little chat with him.

they did get involved in the napoli game. made an incorrect penalty decision

No, it's more like they didn't make a decision that time like they never do, and they're probably not even allowed to do anything other than see if the ball crosses the line. Completely useless, really. The easiest and most effective solution is to bring the goal-line technology and video refereeing into the game, and I doubt it will slow down the game significantly, given that many bad calls are obvious ones which the officials just happen to miss. And players already waste tons of time arguing with officials.

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The same FA that appealed Rooney's deliberate kick to get his ban reduced, that are charging Ivanovic with a supposed punch, and yet blatantly ignoring Maloney's initial elbowing of Ivanovic and not Balotelli for a deliberate act of thuggery on Alex Song.

....seem to be complete bunch of cunts

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