How does The FA decide whether to retrospectively charge a player for an incident ‘not seen’ by the match officials?

Firstly, it’s important to state that the principal objective behind retrospective action is to punish players who have clearly committed a red card offence ‘off the ball’.

It is not designed to ‘re-referee’ tackles but can be applied if an act of violent conduct or serious foul play occurred secondary to the challenge or if the match officials’ view of the specific misconduct was unclear.

In order for The FA to take retrospective action it must first establish from the match officials whether the incident was ‘not seen’. If they confirm they did see it then in almost all cases no further action is taken.

There are extraordinary exceptions, such as in the case involving Ben Thatcher [Manchester City versus Portsmouth in 2006]. If it is confirmed the match officials did not see the incident, The FA convenes a panel of three ex-professional referees and asks them to review the video footage independently of one another.

Only in circumstances where the panel members are unanimous will the player be charged. For more information visit:

Alex is the author of this solution article.

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