People complain about sports officiating in the Western Hemisphere, to the point that some want to replace Major League Baseball umpires with robots as soon as the time is right. They complain about officials in the East, too. Places like the English Premier League, which has disciplined two players after the fact by reviewing video of their actions that on-field officials missed in a recent match.
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and AFC Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings were both "charged with alleged violent conduct" after a game Saturday. They have until tomorrow evening to reply to the charges. Here's the statement, from The FA website:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings have both been charged with alleged violent conduct following the Manchester United versus AFC Bournemouth game on Saturday [4 March 2017].
The players were involved in two separate incidents in or around the 44th minute which were not seen by the match officials at the time but caught on video.
The FA also advised that the standard punishment for Mings's conduct would be "clearly insufficient" in this case.
And here is that conduct, which was basically Mings stomping on Zlatan's head:
And here is Ibrahimovic retaliating with an elbow soon after:
An underlying funny part of the story? Many of the league's active "elite" officials are tangled up in a controversy that will remind NFL fans of the New York Giants' infamous "Boat Trip" during Wild Card week.
Several of the league's best officials were given time off February 25-27 so that they might more easily attend the three-day bachelor party of another official, Anthony Taylor, in Spain. Like Friend, Taylor had a bad day at work in another match Saturday. Via The Mirror:
The pair of poor displays came just hours after a report in The Times claimed a number of top-flight referees were in Marbella (Spain) last week for Taylor's three-day stag do.
A number of high-profile refs were given last weekend off or handed lower league games to take charge of before jetting off to Spain last Saturday night.
According to the Sun, Friend was in attendance. And so the question becomes: who cares? It seems like a mighty big stretch that partying at a bachelor party would have anything to do with a referee's performance nearly a week later.
Giants players such as Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz got flak for partying with Justin Bieber on a boat in Miami hours after their regular-season finale. It was nearly a full week before their playoff game at Green Bay, and had nothing to do with New York's season ending, but the players were destroyed in the media for it. Was it a bad look for the Giants? Maybe, but even that is a stretch. What about the soccer officials? Burnley F.C. manager Sean Dyche had no complaints about Taylor having a party:
Dyche said: "He's human isn't he? Is there a rule that you're not allowed to do that? He's a human being, he's allowed to live his life I'd imagine, unless there's a rule that prevents him from doing that.
"As long as he stayed off the carbs because there's no carbs before Marbs!"
He really said "no carbs before Marbs." Anyway, he likely had no gripe with Taylor because Burnley were beneficiaries of Taylor's blown call. Burnley striker Sam Vokes touched the ball with his hand in the Swansea penalty area, but Taylor thought it was a Swansea player, and awarded a penalty to Burnley, which they converted. Even in soccer, though, ball don't lie. Swansea beat Burnley 3-2.