FA to ban divers for two games during new EPL season

LONDON • Players will receive retrospective two-match suspensions for diving this English Premier League (EPL) season, in a rule change that the Football Association (FA) hopes will deter them from deceiving match officials.

The bans, which come into effect from Friday, are set to apply only to incidents that result in a penalty being awarded or the dismissal of an opponent.

In January, FA officials went on a fact-finding mission to Scotland to explore the rule that stipulates a two-game suspension for a player who wins a significant advantage by deceiving a referee.

Unlike in Scotland, where an independent compliance officer decides on retrospective action after reviewing video evidence, the FA will use a three-person panel that must unanimously agree that a player be charged.

The FA is wary of investigating every incident, so only instances with clear and overwhelming evidence of a player succeeding in deceiving a match official will be referred to the panel.

A pool of up to 14 former referees, managers and players will be used, with one from each group set to review each case. Members of the panel will not be allowed to review a case involving a club if they have a link with the club in question.

In cases where an opposing player is wrongly shown a red card - or a yellow leading to a sending off later in the game - suspensions will be overturned. But a player who is mistakenly booked after an act of deception from an opponent will not have that card rescinded.

There are plans to fast-track decisions to ensure that a player wrongly sent off will be available for his club's next fixture and for the offending player to be suspended for his team's next game.

Clubs across the EPL and English Football League were consulted during the process to implement the rule and a large majority are understood to be supportive of the changes.

Some top-flight managers are said to be especially enthusiastic.

Teams will have a right to appeal against the review panel's decisions.

Repeat offenders also face the prospect of an extra one-match ban for each additional offence.

Players punished during a game for simulation will not be given stronger punishments retrospectively, because it is considered less of an offence in comparison to successfully deceiving a referee.

The FA has also successfully sought permission from Fifa to take retrospective action on incidents of violent conduct that were only partially seen by referees.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'FA to ban divers for two games during new EPL season'. Print Edition | Subscribe