FA plan new bans for X-rated challenges

Players who launch into dangerous challenges are the prime target of an overhaul of the Football Association's disciplinary system that could see the worst offenders handed bans of up to six matches, reports The Guardian.

The FA also plans to approach Fifa to remove a restriction that prevents the sanctioning of players who escape red cards for violent conduct. The two clean-up measures will be discussed at a summer review of the FA's penal procedures, along with a move to clear players who incur wrongful yellow cards.

There is a new resolve within the English game to challenge Fifa president Sepp Blatter's edict that "a game cannot be refereed twice".

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It was demonstrated when the FA refused to buckle recently under pressure from football's world governing body to increase the statutory three-match ban given to Birmingham City's Martin Taylor for the challenge that resulted in an horrific injury to Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva.

Violent play carries an automatic three-match ban, but the FA is ready to push for a mechanism that can increase that suspension.

What vexes it more is the loophole afforded to players who go unpunished where such challenges are deemed to have been "seen"; that is, where officials have merely awarded a free-kick or shown a yellow card.

The FA will claim that, in cases of blatant error, referees cannot have "seen" the incident properly from their individual angle - effectively meaning that they missed it.

Debate about removing yellow cards that are wrongfully brandished is also pending. Currently, appeals can be lodged only against red cards.

This season's refreshing decrease in diving has created pressure to clear players who are mistakenly cautioned. This would again require Fifa to abandon their current dogma, including the stipulation that yellow cards can be rescinded only in cases of mistaken identity.

Referees in general are understood to be in favour of an opportunity to rectify obvious mistakes given that the FA is campaigning for them to be shown more respect by managers and coaches.

The possibility of punishing clubs with points deductions when players intimidate officials is also on the summer agenda.

The FA insisted that no moves had yet been decided, but a spokesperson said: "Our procedures are reviewed every year and we are always prepared to explore any changes that improve the current system."

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