Shaun Wright Phillips’s three match ban shows referees have changed their ruling on what constitutes violent conduct since television cameras showed Christiano Ronaldo flicking out a foot at Tottenham’s Michael Dawson in the Premier League match at White Hart Lane on Saturday 20th December 2008:
Here’s what the FA said back then:
“We contacted the referee [Mike Dean], who confirmed he didn’t see the incident at the time and, having reviewed footage, he has also confirmed he would not have sent the player off for violent conduct had he seen it. On that basis, no further action will be taken.”
Here’s what the FA said when Shaun Wright-Phillips flicked out a foot at Stoke City midfielder Rory Delap during the match at the Britannia Stadium just over a month later on Saturday 31 January 2009:
“The incident was not seen by referee Martin Atkinson. Having now watched video footage of the incident, Atkinson has informed The FA that, had he seen it at the time, he would have shown Wright-Phillips a red card for violent conduct.”
It’s great to see that the rules of the game remain flexible.