The FA have refused to rescind Nemanja Matic’s red card for retaliation during the Premier League match against Burnley at the weekend – though his ban has been reduced from three games to two. Matic was the victim of a studs-up challenge from Ashley Barnes which was later described by Jose Mourinho as “criminal”.
Yet it was the Serbian defender who received his marching orders as he picked himself and charged at Barnes from behind, knocking him to the turf.
The FA upheld Matic’s red card on Tuesday, having announced on Monday that Barnes would not face any further action since his challenge had been seen at the time. However, the FA did reduce Matic’s ban to two games instead of the automatic three.
Roger Burden, chairman of the regulatory commission, explained why the FA rejected Matic’s appeal.
“The violent response to the nature of the tackle cannot be condoned and does not vindicate his subsequent actions,” Burden said.
“The members of the commission did, however, accept the mitigation in respect of the level of force used by Mr Matic and the nature of the contact he made with Mr Barnes.
“Having made those considerations we determined the standard punishment of a three-match suspension would be clearly excessive and, therefore, ordered the suspension be reduced to two matches.”
Chelsea have interpreted that as the decision going against them, as they explained in a statement on their website under the headline “Chelsea appalled with the FA’s decision on Matic”:
“The Chelsea Football Club Board is extremely disappointed and frustrated that the FA Regulatory Commission has today decided not to reduce Nemanja Matic’s suspension to the maximum extent permitted under FA rules.
“There has been universal condemnation of the reckless challenge made by Ashley Barnes on Matic, and it is the club’s view that he has been unjustly punished with a two-match ban for his reaction to a career-threatening tackle.
“It is Chelsea’s opinion that referees and the football authorities must do more to protect players at all levels of the game from dangerous challenges.
“This decision also clearly demonstrates a need for consistency and fairness in the disciplinary process. The club awaits The FA’s written reasons, prior to commenting further.”