Wayne Rooney escapes FA punishment over elbow incident
Rooney clashed with McCarthy in the eighth minute
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will face no action from the Football Association after he appeared to elbow Wigan midfielder James McCarthy.
The incident occurred during Saturday's Premier League match at the DW Stadium in which Rooney scored one of the goals in United's 4-0 victory.
TV replays showed Rooney catch McCarthy on the side of his head with his elbow.
Referee Mark Clattenburg gave a free-kick but Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believed Rooney deserved a red card.
Clattenburg told the FA on Monday that he felt he took the appropriate action, which means the governing body cannot launch disciplinary proceedings against the 25-year-old England forward.
The rules do not allow retrospective action against a player if the official sees the alleged offence.
The FA have now gone down the path where, if the referee sees and incident and acts upon it, whether he is right or wrong, they will support him and stick with it
Former referee Graham Poll
Martinez said on Saturday: "I saw the incident clearly and the referee did as well because he gave the free-kick.
"Once you give a free-kick it is quite clear that it is a red card. When you look at the replay, it is quite clear he catches James McCarthy in the face with his elbow.
"It is a big call in the game. It is unfortunate because the referee saw it but he didn't feel it was a red card.
"If one of my players had done that, I would think he was very lucky to stay on the pitch."
However, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson commented: "There's nothing in it."
The Scot then sought to deflect attention away from the incident and claimed: "As it is Wayne, the press will raise a campaign to get him hung or electrocuted, something like that."
Ferguson's assistant Mike Phelan also played down the incident.
"We can't dispute the referee's decision," he stated. "He's kept the game flowing and we're happy with that.
"There should not be a witch-hunt. The referee was consistent with all his decisions. We should lie low a little bit and let the powers that be take [control of] the game."
But Match of the Day 2 pundit John Hartson described Rooney's actions as "indefensible".
The former Wales, West Ham and Celtic striker said: "It could crack McCarthy's jaw in eight places, could have knocked the boy out. How on earth you can defend that? Having seen those pictures, I do not know. We like the fact that Rooney gets stuck in, he's a really good footballer. But it's not about him. We are not singling him out here."
Having avoided any suspension, Rooney is free to play in Tuesday's crunch Premier League clash at Chelsea, although United could have appealed against any ban to guarantee his availability.
Former referee Graham Poll has called for technology to be used to ensure decisions and punishments are the "right result" rather than the result determined by split-second decisions.
"We now have the opportunity to correct some of the wrongs, when they are clearly wrong, by using video technology and it baffles me as to why we don't do that," Poll told BBC Radio 5 live.
In 2006 Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher was suspended for eight games with a 15-match suspended ban by the Football Association for elbowing Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes.
Thatcher was only booked at the time by referee Dermot Gallagher, but the FA circumvented its own rules to lodge a charge of "serious foul play" against Thatcher.
However, Poll, a Premier League referee from 1993-2007, said the reaction to the Thatcher incident by world football's governing body Fifa meant similar retrospective action is unlikely to happen again.
"With Ben Thatcher, Dermot Gallagher was told and accepted he was wrong and the FA acted with Manchester City's blessing," said Poll.
"Fifa then criticised the FA for increasing that because they were re-refereeing a decision which a referee had seen and acted upon.
"Even if the referee is wrong, Fifa doesn't believe that is the correct course of action.
"So with that in mind, the FA have now gone down the path where, if the referee sees an incident and acts upon it, whether he is right or wrong, they will support him and stick with it.
"If Mark Clattenburg had watched Match of the Day on Saturday night and thought he had got it wrong and put in his report that he would like the FA to look at the video, they would have ignored it anyway.
"The irony is the assessor, which was Mike Reid from Birmingham, has to watch the video afterwards and asses Mark Clattenburg on the accuracy of his decision making using video technology.
"So Clattenburg could still be punished for getting it wrong. If Mike Reid thinks it's a red card - he'll mark him down.
"Referees will accept if they are wrong, and I think in this incident Clattenburg was wrong, they won't mind if the disciplinary punishments are corrected."
Despite being unable to retrospectively discipline players when an incident has already been dealt with by the referee, the FA has overturned bans after matches, as in the case of Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta who avoided a three-match ban after appealing against his red card against Arsenal in January.
Fifa's disciplinary statutes state that "an expulsion automatically incurs suspension from the next subsequent match" but the FA is able to allow the sending-off to stay on the player's record, while "adjusting" the suspension to no ban in order to nullify the punishment.
One Fifa regulation which could be implemented to help the FA punish retrospectively but is not, is Article 77 (specific jurisdiction), which states: The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for:
a) sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials' attention;
b) rectifying obvious errors in the referee's disciplinary decisions;
c) extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art 18, par. 4);
d) pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.
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