Is it justice? That’s debatable. But the Football Association has weighed in on Tottenham Hotspur’s appeal of the red card handed to Son Heung-Min during the 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. It’s good news for Spurs — the FA has reversed Martin Atkinson’s red card and Son will not serve the subsequent three-match ban.
[2/2] The forward was sent off for serious foul play during the Premier League fixture against Everton FC on Sunday 3 November 2019.— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) November 5, 2019
We all know what happened to Son in the encounter that resulted in Andre Gomes’ horrific ankle injury in the second half. Match official Atkinson initially pulled out a yellow card for Son’s foul on Gomes, but then changed his mind when he saw the extent of the injury and issued a straight red to Son. VAR was not consulted by Atkinson before issuing the red card. Tottenham, down to 10 men for the rest of the match, conceded a 97th minute equalizer and drew the match 1-1.
Atkinson’s decision to let his emotions dictate the severity of the infraction resulted in widespread criticism from pundits and fans of all affiliations — even a not-insignificant percentage of Everton supporters. Spurs had appealed the decision based on Atkinson’s mid-stream change. The argument was that allowing the severity of Gomes’ injury — which nearly everyone said was not the fault of Son — have that level of influence opens up a huge can of worms for match officials, and that using such criteria as the basis of a sending off was not in the rules of the game.
Son is, of course, still devastated by what happened to Andre Gomes, as are Tottenham fans, and this decision does not minimize in any way what happened to Gomes or the severity of his injuries. Reasonable people can disagree on whether or not the initial foul was worthy of a red card or not, and this will be no doubt debated for a long time.
And yet, this feels like the correct decision from the FA to throw out the red card and reinstate Son based on the context of how the decision was made. Moreover, it’s a surprising decision, as the FA and the PGMOL have been quick to circle the wagons around their match officials with regards to officiating decisions and reviews in the past.
Thankfully, it means that Son will be on the pitch when Tottenham play in their next Premier League match against Sheffield United. I only wish the decision came with two extra points in the table as well.