On Wednesday, the UEFA (the governing body of European football, including the Champions League) released a statement on Luiz Adriano's controversial goal against FC Nordsjaelland (per Goal.com).
The Shakhtar Donetsk player will face disciplinary charges and is to present his case in front of league officials.
Footage of the goal was met with disbelief by the general public and most fans seemed to agree that, while the conduct of the player was everything but sportsmanlike, there was very little the UEFA would be able to do about it.
It seems like they were wrong.
The UEFA is citing the Disciplinary Regulations article five:
"Member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members shall conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship."
The key point appears to be that teams and players are not permitted to receive an advantage because of unsportsmanlike conduct.
This makes sense.
No team or player should receive any unfair advantage, and particularly should not in case the opposition is guilty of conduct that is perceived as unsportsmanlike.
My question to the UEFA: Where exactly do we draw the line?
Was Thierry Henry not guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct that gave his country an unfair advantage when he used his hand to keep a ball in play against Ireland, resulting in a goal?
Was Gianluigi Buffon not guilty of the same when he swatted a ball that had crossed the goal line back into play against Milan and told the media afterwards he knew it was, in fact, a goal?
Isn't every player that dives in the penalty area guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct that results in an unfair advantage?
Are dirty tackles that result in injuries not acts of the same nature that result in the same advantage?
If not, how do we determine what we deem to be unfair?
If so, why do we never hear of players or teams being punished for these acts? Ireland filed a complaint after the Henry incident; where was this rule then?
There's another question that needs answering: Who do we punish?
After all, while Luiz Adriano might have been the guilty player, it was Shakhtar that received the unfair advantage and didn't allow Nordsjaelland to score a goal in return.
If Chelsea argue that the result of the game was influenced by Shakhtar's unsportsmanlike conduct, are they really wrong? Could the Blues not argue that Shakhtar should be punished?
While I'm all for taking a stance against this kind of behaviour and showing the world that the UEFA will not take unsportsmanlike conduct, they have to be very careful with what kind of precedent this ruling will set.
If Adriano is punished, we might see teams take their grievances with opponents or referees to a whole new level. And the excuse that "What's done is done," will no longer fly.
I for one am very interested in how the UEFA will answer these questions and what kind of punishment they deem fit for Luiz Adriano. Their decisions will greatly impact how we view unsportsmanlike conduct in the future.