Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the over-complication of simple rules 1

The FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission handed down its judgement today on the mess which occurred at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Kieran Gibbs’ red-card was transferred to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal appealed the midfielder’s ban, and that appeal was upheld.

Arsenal made the appeal on the basis that, although Oxlade-Chamberlain made a flagrant and spectacularly illegal attempt to deny a goal, the shot which he interfered with would not have hit the target on its original trajectory.

Take whatever club allegiance you have out of this, and surely that ruling looks absurd. Arsenal fans will be happy to have Oxlade-Chamberlain available for their side’s game tomorrow night and good for them, but is this really the interpretation of that rule now?

I understand why this has happened, and I fully appreciate that it adheres to the wording within the rules, but isn’t there a point at which common-sense has to prevail? Would there be any Arsenal supporters, players, or officials who could have claimed a rightful grievance had the suspension - once transferred - been confirmed?

An outfield player making a diving save in his own penalty-box with the clear intent of preventing a goal? Is that not as clear a red-card offence as exists in the game, irrespective of shot trajectory or destination?

The FA’s disciplinary decisions create precedents, so what does this mean going forward? On the basis that this card has been struck-down, does a referee - witnessing an identical incident - now have to correctly adjudicate whether a shot would have gone in or not before deciding upon the colour of card?

What happens, for example, if a shot is destined to strike the inside of a post? Red card? How about the outside of it? What about flush?

Whether an Arsenal player serves a suspension or not means very little to me, but I worry about how much of an unnecessary muddle these types of decisions can create within the game.

There always seems to be so much pedantry with The FA, and we continually see straightforward decision being complicated by legislation and ambiguous terms.

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