Fernando Torres escapes FA action over ‘scratching’
Limitations of the FA’s newly adopted powers exposed in first high-profile test
The Football Association has announced it will take no disciplinary action against Fernando Torres following an incident involving Jan Vertonghen on Saturday. Photograph: Seán Dempsey/PA Wire
The limitations of the Football Association’s newly adopted powers to take retrospective action have been exposed in the first high-profile test after Fernando Torres escaped a violent conduct charge for scratching Jan Vertonghen in the face.
Chelsea were braced to see Torres banned for a further three matches after television footage captured the striker apparently clawing at the centre-half’s cheek five minutes into the second half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
The referee, Mike Dean, booked Torres for tripping Vertonghen in the build-up to their altercation but the fact he had not then witnessed Torres raising his hand to his marker potentially meant the FA could refer the incident to its new three-man panel of former referees.
However, having taken statements from the officials at White Hart Lane, the governing body determined that the assistant referee closest to the incident, Jake Collin, had seen “the coming together of the two players, albeit not in its entirety”.
Torres’s scratch had been to the left side of Vertonghen’s face, with the assistant on the other side of the players and therefore unsighted, but because the linesman had effectively seen the forward raise his hand, the FA concluded it could not refer the matter to its panel.
Torres was later sent off after a second yellow card, somewhat harshly after jumping with Vertonghen, but his suspension will extend no further than Sunday’s game at Norwich City.
Chelsea had been concerned the FA might consider the scratch an exceptional incident of violent conduct worthy of more than a standard three-match ban, but would have denied a charge.
It’s understood they would have been prepared to accept the three-match violent conduct ban.