Chelsea and Everton have both been charged by the FA for “failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behavior,” but said players who may have conducted themselves in said provocative behavior have not been punished.
That is directed mostly towards Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, who put his arm around the neck of Everton’s James McCarthy during a stoppage of play, and some speculated he may have attempted to headbutt or even bite McCarthy as well.
Gareth Barry was sent off by referee Jon Moss for his second yellow-card offense, a backheel trip of Willian, in the 85th minute. A melee ensued, with both teams coming together. Ivanovic appeared to be trying to hold McCarthy back rather forcefully, wrapping his elbow around the Everton midfielder’s neck from behind in a chokehold-style move, and video replays showed a potential attempt at a headbutt, albeit slight.
The sides have until the evening of February 17 to respond to the charges. However, the FA has determined, while both teams should have conducted themselves better, that Ivanovic ultimately was not in the wrong.
“Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic will not face any further action in relation to an incident involving Everton’s James McCarthy in the 86th minute,” the FA said in a statement. “In Premier League matches, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel of former elite referees will be asked by The FA to review it and advise what, if any, action they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time. For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance, the panel did not believe the conduct was worthy of a dismissal.”
It’s hard to believe that, had the referee seen the incident, he wouldn’t have given a red card for such a chokehold, even with the headbutt and bite questions tossed aside. Had the FA determined he was deserving of a red for violent conduct, he would have been given the standard three-match ban for a sending off.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho initially laughed off questions of Ivanovic’s conduct postgame, saying in his press conference, “Did Branislav Ivanovic go in with his head? Don’t make me laugh. Don’t make me laugh.” Later, after BT Sport asked him a similar question during a one-on-one, Mourinho threatened to walk out on reporters if he was asked about the situation again. When the BBC asked him about it during their one-on-one later, he followed through on that threat, walking out completely.
Everton, meanwhile, was unhappy with Barry’s sending-off. Captain Phil Jagielka claimed, “I’m not sure the tackle warranted a second yellow but the ref is surrounded by five or six of their players and is put under tremendous pressure and, unfortunately for us, wilted and sent [Barry] off.”
Manager Roberto Martinez chipped in with the same sentiments, saying, “Every time a player loses a challenge it feels like the weight of the world is on the referee’s shoulders and he feels he needs to react. To give Gareth Barry a second yellow card because of the reaction from Chelsea’s players is disappointing. They surrounded the referee and their conduct was a real shame.”