Unsworth questions FA after Niasse diving ban upheld

Matt Stead

Everton striker Oumar Niasse was hit with a two-match ban for diving on Wednesday as caretaker boss David Unsworth spoke about a “dangerous precedent” being set.

Niasse has become the first Premier League player to be hit with a retrospective suspension for simulation under the new law that kicked in this season, having had his appeal rejected by the Football Association.

He was charged by the FA on Tuesday after winning a controversial penalty in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace.

The FA announced in a statement on Wednesday that Niasse’s appeal had been unsuccessful, with the charge of ‘Successful Deception of a Match Official’ found proven following an independent regulatory commission hearing.

Everton said in a subsequent statement: “Although we are disappointed by the decision of the independent regulatory commission to reject Oumar’s denial of the charge, the club and the player accept the outcome of today’s hearing.

“We will make further comment when we have fully reviewed the observations contained in the report.”

At a press conference on Wednesday before the FA’s statement was released, Unsworth was asked if he thought if would set a dangerous precedent if Niasse did get banned.

And he said: “I think these people will be very busy if that’s going to be the case.

“We don’t want contact taken out the game. Slowly but surely, piece by piece, it has started to come out of the game.

“I am all for protecting players and nobody wants to see bad tackles.

“But we do have to have experts who know what a foul is and those who don’t know the game… It’s a dangerous place and a dangerous precedent that could be set if decisions are given against you which are debatable.”

The penalty in Saturday’s league contest at Selhurst Park was awarded by referee Anthony Taylor when Niasse went down in the Palace box and it was deemed that he had been fouled by Eagles defender Scott Dann, who reacted angrily to the decision.

Leighton Baines converted the spot-kick to cancel out James McArthur’s opener for the hosts, and Niasse later netted a second equaliser.

Dann said after the game that Niasse had “conned the referee”.

Unsworth added on Wednesday: “I think anywhere on the field it’s a foul. He (Niasse) was shocked and I was shocked (by the charge). We’re all bitterly disappointed.

“I think it’s a great rule but it doesn’t change my stance on if there’s contact anywhere on the pitch – slight or not, contact is contact.”

Incidents which suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation are referred to a panel consisting of one ex-match official, one ex-manager and one ex-player. They will each review footage independently, and only in circumstances where the panel are unanimous will the FA issue a charge.

The ban means Niasse will miss the league games at Southampton on Sunday and at home against West Ham three days later.