Bosingwa, The F.A, The Linesman, and Mike Riley: The Truth

Steven HoAnalyst IFebruary 5, 2009

"An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi.


A lot of confusion has been circulated surrounding exactly how Jose Bosingwa has not been punished for his astonishing attack against Yossi Benayoun in last Sunday's match against Liverpool.

This short article aims to clear it all up and hopefully convince people that the F.A is not being 'inconsistent,' that the linesman was NOT at fault, and that Mike Riley is the real culprit—along with Bosingwa, of course.

For those who missed the incident, here's a video of it.  As you will see, Bosingwa clearly and deliberately attacked Benayoun, putting a boot into his lower back, most probably out of frustration of losing Chelsea's biggest game of the season so far.

The blame has been spread across four main parties, which are individually addressed below:


The Linesman

First up, Mo Matadar, the linesman—or assistant referee, as they are supposed to be called nowadays. Poor guy. He did nothing wrong in Sunday's incident and yet has been chastised by nearly everybody.

"The linesman was right next to Benayoun when the challenge came in and (yet) he waved his flag for a goal kick, completely ignoring what had just taken place". 

"The FA cannot charge Bosingwa because the assistant referee saw it and let it go."

"I think another thing that needs to be looked at is the eye-sight of the linesman. How did he not see Bosingwa's attack?"

All of the above are unfortunately completely untrue.

Have a look at the incident again, focusing on the Mo this time. He waves his flag frantically the instant after Bosingwa knocks Benayoun over.

To be completely honest, this should be enough evidence for the common sense to kick in and tell oneself that he did recognise the foul. 

But if you need more proof, you only need to look at the following diagram to see what Mo's actions really meant:

Referees Signals
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

So, in other words: Mo Matadar did not simply ignore the incident and wave for a goal kick. He clearly recognised the violent conduct and waved his flag frantically to call the attention of the referee. He did his job.

The Truth: referee Mike Riley overruled him. Therefore he should not be subjected to blame.

Apparently, he has been demoted to officiating in a League Two match for his next game. I don't know whether he's actually been demoted or whether it was just his next fixture, but it's a shamble the way he has been misreported. 

(However, if you do want to see an amazingly short sighted linesman, jump across to here.)


The F.A.

Now I'm not normally one to defend the F.A., but in this case I think they've been hard done by. The general consensus is that they've simply ignored the incident, and are being inconsistent after charging Shaun Wright Phillips for violent conduct after a video review.

"Amazingly, after an apparent review of the incident, it was decided that no further action would be taken due to an obscure rule."

"Wright-Phillips deserves to be charged as he retaliated and in the laws of the game, he deserved a red card, but then surely so does Chelsea's Bosingwa?"

"Why can Lampard have his red card rescinded? The referee saw that and he gave a red card."

"[The message the F.A are sending out] is that an intentional kick with studs into the back of a player is perfectly acceptable behaviour."

If there's one thing I would guarantee with my life, it would be that the F.A. does not condone Bosingwa's tackle. It's merely a loophole that has allowed Bosingwa to get away with no punishment.

An F.A. statement was released, in response to Bosingwa decision, which stated: "Under the FIFA Laws of the Game, The F.A. is prohibited from taking disciplinary action when incidents are seen at the time by the match officials." 

As we've established above, the linesman did see the incident. A referee has to file a post match report—and, indeed, Mike Riley confirmed in his post match report that the linesman did see the incident.

Thus there can be no other conclusions besides Mike Riley, the referee, to everyone's astonishment, overruled the decision.

The F.A. did not review the incident and then decide it was okay. The F.A. could not review the incident.  It's an important distinction to make: it's not they didn't want to do anything about it, they couldn't

And what about Wright Phillips and Frank Lampard?

The reason Shaun Wright Phillips was later charged with violent conduct is because in his match the referee, Martin Atkinson, and his officials did not see the incident. Therefore it was technically valid for a review. 

"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," the FA said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mike Riley did see Lampard's incident but the key is in the F.A quote above. They can't take "disciplinary action" if an incident is seen in the game by the referees. But players are allowed to appeal their red cards, and get them rescinded if there was a mistake, which is not classified as 'disciplinary' action, and thus is why Lampard got his one rescinded.


The Truth: What has happened is technically correct; no laws have been broken and thus the decision is correct.

That is not to say that the rule is correct, just that the decision and outcome is technically valid. 

Indeed it's imperative that the rule must be reviewed so that this doesn't happen again. The rule is designed to give full trust and responsibility to the referee, to not second guess his decisions (which is understandable in some sense; if they decide to overrule him on one they could review every one of his decisions in a match) but this is clearly a loophole.

For now though, it's unfair to say that they are simply ignoring the incident and being inconsistent with their own laws.

(If we take a step back, the larger problem of Bosingwa's let-off is that it just reinforces players unsaid belief that they can get away with anything on the pitch nowadays.

If players like Bosingwa are not even scared of the punishments handed out then what deterrents are red cards and petty fines? 

This may be an extreme example but the same principle applies to diving—nearly every player commits it because they know that they are likely to get away with, at worst, a yellow card and a few boos, which is an insignificant cost when the reward is likely to be a penalty to win a match, or even a World Cup.)


Mike Riley & Jose Bosingwa

Surprisingly little blame has been placed on the referee and the player who actually committed the foul: Mike Riley and Jose Bosingwa, respectively.

Both were equally stupid in their actions. Bosingwa, for what must be one of the most outrageous show of immaturity that I've ever seen on a football pitch, and Mike Riley, who needs to go to Specsavers (mild adult content)

If we must direct rational blame, rather than rising above it, then we must direct it only at two people: Mike Riley and Jose Bosingwa. 


Jose Bosingwa's integrity, in particular, must be criticized. After the match, he apologised but amazingly claimed it was an accident!


"I apologise for what I did and it was never my intention to hurt him."


That was no accident. Whilst I doubt that he actually wanted to cause physical bodily harm to Benayoun, he certainly meant to kick him down.



Scolari's post match interview gave insight to Pinnochio's mind. 

He revealed that he asked Bonsingwa about the incident after the match, to which Bosingwa apparently replied that he thought the referee had stopped the game and the player (Benayoun) was not giving the ball back.... which implies that he kicked him in the back in order to get the ball back.


Well it's obvious to anyone with their eyes open that this wasn't the case, but if you need a logical argument: if he was trying to get the ball back, why didn't he actually go and get the ball after he kicked the player down, instead of just casually jogging away from the incident like nothing happened? The answer is, of course, that he wasn't trying to get the ball back.

All in all a disappointing performance all round from Bosingwa, who also allowed Fábio Aurélio to put in the cross which lead to Torres' goal unchallenged, which put Liverpool 1-0 up.





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