On Sunday, Wigan Athletic hosted the Magpies of Newcastle in an English Premier match that will only be remembered for a despicable challenge from Wigan debutant Callum McManaman.
While the tackle was egregious, the most alarming element of this is not so much what happened on the pitch, but the FA's follow-up, or better yet, their lack thereof.
On most Saturdays or Sundays, this match would have been in the shadow of the two London Derbies, Chelsea's 2-0 win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge and the Spurs predictable 0-1 loss to Fulham at White Hart Lane, however in this instance, the aforementioned tackle and it's subsequent acknowledgement by the FA should be the top item in the football pages.
As the video clearly depicts, Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara was clumsily tackled by the high-boot and studs-up challenge of McManaman. McManaman, who was making his full debut for the Latics in their 2-1 win, made an effort for the ball, only to miss, striking Haidara on the left knee with studs that on a wet Greater Manchester Sunday could have been a length that would have done some serious damage. And they very well may have. Haidara, who Newcastle signed in the January transfer window form French Ligue 1 side Nancy, was carted off on a stretcher, and early estimates are that he has suffered serious ligament damage in his knee that could see him shelved for an extended period of time, likely well into Newcastle's next campaign.
While McManaman is fully to blame for the challenge, the sport of football, like many of the sports we follow here in North America, is being played at such speeds and with such power that injuries and mistimed tackles are par for the course. By no means does this excuse his actions. As an Arsenal supporter, in the last few years, I've witnessed the careers of Eduardo, Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby be forever changed and marred by similar tackles, while those responsible for said tackles continued playing with nary a slap on the wrist from the FA. What is most disgusting about this latest instance is not the tackle itself, but the FA's reaction to it.
The Football Association, more commonly referred to as the FA, is the governing body of football in England, and presides over both domestic leagues and the English National side. Formed in 1863, it is the world's oldest football association, and is looked to as a leader and a judge and jury of sorts for everything that falls under their umbrella.
In this particular instance, the FA has made a statement that acknowledges that the tackle has been reviewed, but because the match's referee, Mark Halsey, both saw the tackle and did nothing about it, the FA's position is one of not stepping on its official's toes.
The FA released a statement earlier this morning;
"Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge. This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents.
"In the case of McManaman, it has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together, though not the full extent of the challenge. In these circumstances retrospective action cannot be taken.
The FA's reaction is beyond reprehensible, as was Halsey's decision to not award a red card, or a yellow card for that matter. Further, Newcastle wasn't even awarded a free kick despite the protestations of Newcastle players and coaches alike as their teammate Haidara writhed in pain on the pitch. The fact that the FA has not slapped a retrospective penalty on McManaman is absolutely inexcusable.
Massadio Haidara is a young, prodigious talent who may never walk the same again, while Callum McManaman is available for selection by manager Roberto Martinez for Wigan's next match at home to Norwich City. Something is beyond wrong with this picture, and unless the FA can alter its archaic methods of applying retrospective punishment, tackles like this will continue to take place, and players will continue to face extended stays on the injured reserve.