Son Heung-Min’s red card and suspension for his tackle that led to the injury of Everton midfielder Andre Gomes was rescinded by the FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission, on appeal. That’s the good news. Now, we’re getting more information about the appeal decision itself, thanks to Sky Sports, and it won’t do much to make the decision any less controversial, at least to Everton fans.
Sonny was sent off after the Tottenham Hotspur forward attempted a tackle on Gomes from behind, a tactical foul that unfortunately was the catalyst for Gomes planting his foot in the turf while landing and colliding with Serge Aurier. That led to Gomes both breaking and dislocating his ankle. Match official Martin Atkinson, who originally had a yellow card out for the tactical foul, saw Sonny’s absolute distress on the pitch and the extent of Gomes’ injury, and changed the color of the card to red. Tottenham, who maintained that the injury was not a direct result of the challenge but merely an unlucky circumstance, appealed the decision and it was overturned.
Sky, however, reports that the commission that looked at the appeal, made a rare majority decision on a 2-1 vote, itself unusual since the majority of the decisions are made unanimously.
The majority report from the panel specifically said that the injury to Gomes was not included as a factor when making the decision on whether to rescind the suspension, notably in opposition to Atkinson’s apparent motivations on the pitch. The commission took pains to note it as “a very challenging case.”
“Having viewed the available footage of the incident on numerous occasions and in great detail, the regulatory commission agreed by majority decision that the referee had erred in his interpretation of the incident.
“The majority decision was that in this instance, there was the absence of excessive force, brutality and the challenge itself did not endanger the safety of the opponent as stipulated in law.”
However, the one dissenting panel member implied that, intent aside, there was no real way to separate Gomes’ injury from Son’s tackle and that the potential to harm Gomes outweighed other factors.
“This secondary movement of Son’s left leg served ultimately to endanger the safety of his opponent pursuant to Law 12. Based on all the considerations the minority view was not satisfied that a dismissal was outside the reasonable range of actions for the referee to meet the obvious error test.”
It’s rare that we get a chance to see how the sausage gets made in commissions like this, though obviously it’s horrible that it comes via a severe injury to a player. The good news is that this doesn’t change anything — Son’s red card and suspension are still rescinded. The bad news is that Andre Gomes is still injured and there’s nothing we can do about that either. What it does reiterate is just how controversial and emotional this entire situation was, and how close it was to having the on-pitch call by Atkinson upheld.