Friday, 22 April 2011

Nicky Butt Sees Red in Hong Kong

The following incident occurred during a Hong Kong league match between Kitchee and South China on Sunday 3 April 2011. The match finished 2—0.

Butt Off!

Serbian Mateja Kezman (red #38) should know better

In a highly-charged encounter between the two leading teams in Hong Kong, the winner of this crucial league match would top the table and, with three matches remaining to play, would be in pole position to become league champions. In total, there were 10 YCs and 2 RCs in the match.

In the 65', English midfielder Nicky Butt was sent off for violent conduct after he swung his right elbow at Kitchee's Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo Santana. You can just see Butt swing his elbow toward Ubay's face at 02:31 of the videoclip before it goes off screen.

YouTube link from scaawebtv2

What followed after is woeful and shows the lack of discipline and respect among football players to one another and to match officials in Hong Kong.

YouTube link from WaiKuenHo (part 1)

YouTube link from WaiKuenHo (part 2)

Admittedly, the match officials perhaps could have managed the mass confrontations better (e.g. see here). But nevertheless, there is no excuse for the disrespectful behaviour of both teams.

After the HKFA Disciplinary Task Force reviewed the sending off incident on 19 April (16 days post-match), Butt received a two-match ban (i.e. an immediate one-match ban plus an additional one-match ban).

However, it is perhaps a reflection of the power wielded by the big clubs in Hong Kong that disrespectful comments from South China chairman Steven Lo Kit-sing to the media about the match officials are allowed to go unpunished by the HKFA Disciplinary Task Force (e.g. see here). Also, here is a news article excerpt:
South China boss Steven Lo Kit-sing accused the referee of making unfair decisions, which led to his side's second defeat by Kitchee in the league this season.

"No one will invest in Hong Kong soccer if the refereeing standard is so terrible," said Lo. "The poor decisions provoked the players and as a result, the players failed to control their heads on the field and could not play their game."

Compare this with the EPL, where the FA handed Sir Alex Ferguson a five-match touchline ban plus a fine of £30,000 for his disrespectful comments about referee Martin Atkinson during the EPL encounter between Manchester United and Chelsea on 1 March 2011.** Here's what Ferguson said:
"You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that."

Here's another example where the FA took action against managers who made inflammatory post-match comments about referees.

** Considering the fact that Stephen Lo is reported to be paying both Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman £30,000 each every week (see here), why not fine him for his comments? If the aim is to raise the standard of Hong Kong soccer, then everyone with a vested interest needs to pull together, buck up their ideas and improve as a whole. It is little use simply pumping money into clubs whilst simultaneously neglecting the development of match officials. If finances are limited at the HKFA, then why not impose fines? Subsequently, part of those finances may be put towards the development of match officials in Hong Kong. Then, everyone wins.

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