A few Monday nights ago against Chelsea, Troy ‘cojones’ Deeney flipped off the Chelsea fans with both middle fingers. It’s a gesture we’ve all thought about at one time or another when confronted with the same set of fans, even if we haven’t actually followed through with it on Sky TV in front of millions.

Cue moral outrage.

Because, of course, in the world of football there is no greater sin that that of disrespect.

Refuse to shake a manager or player’s hand and you’re the subject of page after page of journos crying about the lack of respect in the game. Break a fellow player’s leg, however, and we all know that you’re not really that kind of player.

A six-game ban was recently handed out to Arthur Masuaku after he spat at an opponent, an act that speaks to our lizard brain as some sort of threat above and beyond the actual reality of being spat upon in an era of antibiotics.

I know, I’ve been spat at.

It’s not pleasant and if that’s your default response to something you find not to your liking, then you should perhaps seek help. But would I have preferred the man who spat at me to have snapped my leg like a twig instead? One action required me to wash myself, the other most likely a year’s worth of rehabilitation.

Yet breaking a leg on a football pitch is punishable with only a three-game ban, that’s if you get a red at all, what with most likely not being that kind of player.

Of course, some will say that having your leg broken is a risk you take when playing football while being spat upon should not be. But that’s a ridiculous argument.

Yes, leg breaks happen and many times they are accidental. I’m not buying, however, that fellow professionals are required to take more care with their bodily fluids than they are with flying limbs that can inflict permanent and lasting damage.

Give Abou Diaby a call. Ask him if he’d rather have been spat at when he was 19 or had his career ruined for absolutely no reason other than his opponent gave no shits about his safety. A player, it should be noted, who served not one second of a ban.

This brings me back to Deeney who was facing the possibility of a four-match ban. It didn’t arrive, but even the discussion of it was ridiculous.

It seems that the FA’s own guidelines are more flexible than they want you to know about. They can and will look at incidents included in the referees report, but you need to make sure you get adequate coverage in the media to force their hand.

Fail at that and they will just trot out their ‘ref already dealt with it’ line and hide behind not wanting to be seen to undermine referees who are quite capable of doing that on their own.

It should also be noted that the FA’s stance of not giving reds for yellows already issued by the ref is a decision taken solely by the FA and not a FIFA directive. In France, they are more than happy to not only revisit yellows but also increase the length of bans for reds depending on the severity of the injury caused.

Round these parts, we’re no fans of Mike Dean for reasons that should be self-explanatory, but, in case they aren’t, we explained at length previously.

But it seems odd to me that Deeney, of whom we aren’t too keen either, faced double the punishment based on whether Mike Dean is any good at his job or not.

In all, the whole incident was a total farce. It showed the FA to, once again, be driven solely by media coverage rather than any dedication to fairness within the game and it highlights the ridiculous priority we give to offences on the pitch.

I’ve seen tackles that would make you vomit elicit significantly less outrage than a player cursing or giving the finger or spitting at an opponent.

Yet we all know which one garners to most column inches….just ask Eduardo if you still aren’t sure. Did his leg break or dive cause a bigger uproar?


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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.