What a joke! The FA refuses to review Fernando Torres’ face scratch on Jan Vertonghen

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The English Football Association will not review Fernando Torres’ face scratch on Jan Vertonghen during Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Spurs, preventing them from taking further disciplinary action against the Spaniard.

The Blues striker and Spurs defender spent the better part of 51 minutes locked in a full-blooded battle before Torres lost his cool after what he believed was a dive from the Belgian.

In a reaction tailor made for someone with the nickname ‘El Niño,’ Torres grabbed hold of Vertonghen’s face and dug his nails into the Belgian’s skin. Torres was booked for the claw-job and was later sent off for a reckless challenge on the Spurs defender.

Given the violent nature of the scratching incident, many felt that FA could revisit the incident and hand Torres an additional ban to the one match after he was shown his second yellow card in the 81st minute.  On Tuesday, they announced that won’t be the case.

“One of the match officials saw the coming together of the two players, albeit not in its entirety,” an FA statement read. “In these particular circumstances, in line with the FA’s policy on when retrospective action may be taken, reviewed this summer by the game’s stakeholders, no action may be taken.”

source: Getty Images
Fernando Torres was issued his second yellow card for this challenge on Jan Vertonghen.

Torres could have been banned for up to four matches should the FA referred the video to its new independent disciplinary panel and violent conduce been found. But, as referee Mike Dean’s assistant Jake Collin saw the incident, the FA refused to review the incident.

This system permitting an independent panel of three former referees to look at incidents retrospectively and decide if charges should be brought replaces the old system where action was only taken if the referee viewed the footage and judged whether he should have sent a player off. But, in both cases if any match official saw part of the incident – even if not the full detail – then the FA cannot take further action. Which is exactly the loophole the Torres incident falls.

If this system – and the decision – sounds ridiculous that’s because it is.

The main problem is that the system allows referees to avoid handing out additional bans if they’ve seen at least part of the incident – thus the “albeit not in its entirety” line of crap. With three field referees following the play at all times, is there ever really an incident where referees won’t have seen at least a glimpse of the incident? Doubtful.

In the case of Torres and Vertonghen, the linesman (Collin) was standing just behind Torres and clearly saw the coming together of the two players. What he couldn’t see, however, was Torres’ child-like face scratch, which is precisely why the Spaniard was issued a yellow card and not a red.

The fact that the FA now refuses to review the incident based on seeing part of the tussle, is without question, asinine.

So, is Fernando Torres getting preferential treatment here?

Possibly. Outside of his puerile claw-job, Torres is not known for being a dirty player.

But you can bet that if Luis Suarez, Joey Barton, Ryan Shawcross, Cheik Tiote, Marouane Fellaini or Craig Gardner pulled this move the FA would’ve found a way to review it and assess an additional ban.

What a joke.

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”