The blues had already qualified for the knock-out stage of the
competition and were 2-1 down when the defender kicked out at Andre Silva. Walker
received a straight red for the challenge, which came with an automatic one
Today, that was increased to three matches, a punishment that City have accepted and will not appeal. The reason given for the ban was ‘assault,’ however, not only do UEFA not provide their definition of assault, they also seem unable to uphold their own regulations when dishing out punishment to two people charged with the same offence.
The other player in question is Inter Milan’s Nicola Barella.
During Inter’s final group match at Real Madrid, the midfielder was barged off the ball by Madrid’s Eder Militao and tumbled into the hoardings at the side of the pitch. Barella reacted by punching Militao in the leg which earned him a red card, while Militao’s challenge received only a yellow.
Today, Barella received his punishment which was…a two-match ban! Yes, you read that right. Same charge + worse offence = lighter punishment! The midfielder will now miss both of Inter’s matches against Liverpool (saying nothing) in the last sixteen.
We’re not in any way disputing Walker’s ban, what he did was stupid, but what’s the difference between his suspension and Barella’s, apart from the obvious one that Barella will be back sooner? Is this because UEFA don’t anticipate Inter getting past Liverpool in the next round, or did they just want to punish the blues defender more than Barella?
We might have an explanation, and, huge surprise, it’s one of UEFA’s many get out clauses.
Article 15 Section E says “suspension for three competition matches or a specified period for assaulting another player or another person present at the match.”
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for saying Barella should, by their rules, be banned for three matches. But UEFA have, of course, inserted a loophole into their regulations.
It’s the ‘specified period’ wording of Article 15 that gives Barella his get out of jail (almost) free card. Basically, that’s UEFA saying “yeah it’s three matches but we can reduce it if we want to. It all depends on who it is and who they play for.” Okay, that last sentence was added for effect, but once again, UEFA are having one of their ‘one rule for one, one for another’ moments.
But it’s these inconsistencies in upholding their own rules and regulations why City fans, and English fans in general, do not trust UEFA. This is exactly why the faithful have in the past booed the UEFA anthem. Blues fans feel UEFA don’t like the club and decisions like this only fuels that feeling.
Unfortunately for European football, or should that be English football, a leopard never changes its spots, and this sort of thing will no doubt keep on happening until there is substantial and credible change at UEFA.
Sadly, that’s not happening any time between now and the end of never, but it will be interesting to see how other teams are dealt with by the governing body in the future.
It’s certainly one to keep a blue eye on.