After extensive consultation with A-League players, the PFA this week finalised its recommendations to FFA’s review of the National Disciplinary Regulations. Among 9 major recommendations, the PFA has sought the introduction of the right of a player to challenge referees’ disciplinary decisions made in “obvious error”, the reduction of all mandatory suspensions to one match in line with FIFA regulation, the use of video technology to address simulation and greater alignment between FFA’s and FIFA’s regulatory framework.

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab today said the PFA had enjoyed detailed discussions with FFA about the game’s regulatory framework, and is confident an improved regime will be established in time for the 2008/09 A-League season.

“We have emphasised in our discussions with FFA the players’ commitment to upholding the principles of fair play,” Schwab said today. “At the same time, the A-League’s current regulatory framework is unduly complex, legalistic and denies opportunities for disciplinary decisions to be reviewed even where permitted by the FIFA Disciplinary Code (“FDC”).”

“There are 3 important differences between FFA’s Regulations and the FDC, which the PFA believes should be adopted within Australia:

  • the FDC provides a broader range of offences;
  • the FDC provides for minimum sanctions, as opposed to prescribing a range; and
  • philosophically, the FDC places much greater discretion (and confidence) in its Disciplinary Committee to arrive at common sense outcomes.”

The PFA’s 9 recommendations address:

  1. the right of a player to appeal a referee’s decision where it can be shown that a decision such as a red card was made in “obvious error”within the meaning of Article 84 of the FDC. The PFA has submitted this power should be reciprocal, and apply to players who have been erroneously disciplined as well as those who may wrongly escape discipline;
  2. that mandatory suspensions for the accrual of cautions (yellow cards) be one week. This would not be open to challenge;
  3. that players receive a one week suspension upon the accrual of 5, 8 and 10 cautions (presently 4, 7 and 10). During the Finals Series, a 3 yellow card rule should apply or, alternatively, at least for players not suspended during the regular season to encourage and reward fair play;
  4. that the mandatory suspension for a red card be one week, with further suspension possible based on the nature of the offence on each occasion. Presently, players receive longer mandatory suspensions for a second or subsequent red card during the course of the season, irrespective of the nature of the offence;
  5. that the wording and sanctions for offences be brought in line with the FDC;
  6. presently, “exceptional circumstances” must exist if a player is to receive a suspension outside of that mandated or recommended by the Regulations. This has given rise to legal complexity. The PFA recommends this test be abolished and a general power of mitigation be vested in the FFA Disciplinary Committee where compelling circumstances exist. Such circumstances would not include the pressure of the match situation or whether a referee had made a mistake;
  7. that the FFA Disciplinary Committee and other hearing bodies be reconstituted in consultation with the PFA to include greater football expertise;
  8. that an express power of investigation be introduced to specifically address matters which escape the match officials’ attention; and
  9. video evidence be systematically used to address matters which have escaped the match officials’ attention or where a referee has made an obvious error in a disciplinary decision. This can be a powerful tool to address simulation which, fortunately, is not a major problem within the A-League at present.

To read the PFA’s 9 recommendations in detail, click here.

To read the PFA’s full submission, please follow this link to football policy.

To read the PFA’s earlier articles, follow these links:

PFA Calls for New Yellow Card System for Version 4

PFA Welcomes Review of National Disciplinary Regulations