Sport

Footballers might be proven a pink card in the event that they cough intentionally at someone else amid coronavirus

Sent off for COUGHING? Footballers will be shown a red card if they cough deliberately at an opponent or referee, as the FA gets tough with new Covid-related rules

  • Players who deliberately cough at another player or referee will be shown red 
  • New FA guidance has ranked deliberate coughing as seriously as punching 
  • Referees will not be expected to police goal celebrations or spitting at the pitch
  • The new rules apply to all levels of the game and come into effect immediately 

Footballers will be shown a red card if they deliberately cough at an opponent or referee, as the Football Association brings in new rules in relation to the coronavirus.

The governing body has compiled a comprehensive document outlining detailed guidance for match officials overseeing games while coronavirus restrictions are in place, and the new rules come into force with immediate effect. 

The rules dictate that in the situation where a ‘clear act’ of coughing towards someone occurs, the player in question should be disciplined with a red card, removing them from the game.

Footballers will be shown a red card if they deliberately cough at another player or referee

Footballers will be shown a red card if they deliberately cough at another player or referee

The new guidance applies to all levels of the game, but referees will not be expected to ensure players are socially distant during goal celebrations nor will they punish spitting on the pitch, unless a player has been warned not to and continues to do so. 

Deliberate coughing is treated as seriously as punching under the new guidance. Targeted coughing has now been deemed a criminal offence by the CPS, and a player who deliberately coughs on another player or referee may expect police action as a result. 

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The FA’s document, as first reported by The Times, for referees states: ‘Where the referee is certain that someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official . . . the referee should take action under the law 12 “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.

New FA guidance prohibits the 'clear act' of coughing towards another amid coronavirus

New FA guidance prohibits the ‘clear act’ of coughing towards another amid coronavirus

Deliberate coughing is ranked as seriously as punching another player under the new rules

Deliberate coughing is ranked as seriously as punching another player under the new rules

‘The action of moving the head/mouth towards someone and then coughing would fall within the “spirit” and general definition of a gesture which is “a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning”.

‘If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for “unsporting behaviour — shows a lack of respect for the game”.’ 

Prior to the suspension of football as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa was seen deliberately coughing at members of the media as an apparent prank following the Spanish side’s Champions League triumph over Liverpool.

Diego Costa pretends to cough at reporters stood feet away from him after playing at Anfield

Diego Costa pretends to cough at reporters stood feet away from him after playing at Anfield

Meanwhile, match officials who are not in the testing programme must take their temperatures at home, five hours before their allocated match starts. 

They’ve also been told to travel to games separately, pay their fees via a bank transfer rather than cash and to refrain from touching the match ball before kick off. 

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Assistant referees must also wear face masks when undertaking checks on players’ boots and shin pads and should hold conversations with players or coaching staff at a minimum of a one-metre distance.  

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