Filed under: Football
Other than the fact that he’s a Man Utd player, I have nothing against Darren Fletcher. In fact, as far as Utd players go, Fletcher is one of the least irritating. I’d much rather have a drink with him than Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand or Gary Neville. But even though TV replays show that he did not deserve to be sent off during 2nd leg of Utd’s UEFA Champions League semi-final with Arsenal, UEFA has decided that his ban will stand. An appearance in a Champions League final is one of the crowning glories of any footballers career, and since he didn’t feature in Moscow last year, Fletcher will have been hoping that his greater involvement in this season’s European campaign would have guaranteed him some action. But unfortunately for the Scot, an erroneous sending off will prevent him from achieving this. It’s perfectly possible that he will never have such a chance again, so for a seemingly honest and hard-working player, this is undoubtedly a very harsh blow. However, while this might seem on the face of it to represent a great injustice, I for one am extremely pleased to see that UEFA have avoided making what I would have seen as a massive gaffe.
The issue of TV replays and how they ought to be used in disciplinary procedures is a complex one, and having seen some awful refereeing errors over the years completely exposed from various angles in slow-motion, I’m not ready to dismiss it out of hand. But to suddenly begin making changes to the rules during a tournament would have been opening a can of worms. For example, would Eric Abidal also have been allowed to play. If not, then why not? Furthermore, couldn’t clubs who had taken part in this season’s Champions League quite justifiably begin to make retrospective appeals on the basis of Fletcher’s?
Had UEFA buckled under the sort of pressure that some feel only Man Utd are able to apply, it would for me have been unfair. Not on Darren Fletcher, for whom I have the utmost sympathy, but on every club and player that have fallen foul of poor refereeing decisions in this season’s Champions League. But they didn’t, and Fletcher and Man Utd’s loss is the football world (and Barcelona’s) gain.
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