The FA have published their written reasons for Oumar Niasse’s two-game ban for diving, saying the striker "exaggerated the effect of a normal contact to deceive the referee".
Niasse became the first player to be banned under the FA’s new ruling on simulation that was brought in this summer and is designed to clamp down on diving in the game.
The ban has proved controversial given there have been a number of incidents already this season that have not been punished.
There was also clear contact between Niasse and Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann, meaning it was not a cut and dry case.
The three-man FA commission unanimously agreed that Niasse had deceived the referee by exaggerating his fall to win the penalty.
The commission had five key questions to ask in the decision-making process:
1. Is there contact between the players involved? Simulation is more likely in cases where a player attempts to deceive the referee when no contact occurred between the players.
2. Is there fair/normal contact between the players, resulting in no offence being committed?
3. Is a player legitimately avoiding contact with his opponent to prevent injury?
4. Has the player initiated the contact between his opponent and himself in order to deceive the referee?
5. Does the player exaggerate the effect of a normal contact challenge in order to deceive the referee?
The commission stated that the video footage:
“Gave clear and overwhelming evidence that the player had exaggerated the effect of a normal contact in order to deceive the referee.”
“The glaring example of simulation was the penalty award on 4 mins against Palace. In my view, Everton’s Niasse has dived to earn his team a penalty and Mr Taylor was successfully deceived. I accept there was contact made by Palace’s Dann. However the contact made is minimal – certainly not enough to make Niasse fall to the ground in the way he did”.
To confuse things further, it was noted that referee Anthony Taylor maintained that he had made the correct decision and Dann’s tackle warranted the spot-kick.
However, the commission have ignored Taylor’s opinion and come to the conclusion that he was tricked by Niasse.
Evertonians are understandably frustrated as they believe Niasse is being made an example of as the FA feel under pressure to act, not helped by some rather over-the-top responses in the media.
The authorities have also open themselves up for even greater scrutiny. There will now be pressure for them to investigate any tackle where the player may have gone down a bit easily.
Remember, Niasse didn’t go down without being touched and the referee maintains he made the correct decision.
I applaud the FA’s intent to try and eradicate diving from the game. However, their implementation of the new rule is muddled (with Niasse caught in the cross-fire) and I fear will only cause further controversy as the season goes on.