On 21 November 2017, Sports Shorts reported that the FA had issued its first charge of “Successful Deception of a Match Referee”, the recipient being Everton’s Oumar Niasse.

The FA statement read:

“It is alleged [Niasse] committed an act of simulation which led to a penalty being awarded in the fifth minute of the game.”

Niasse denied the charge against him. However, since Sports Shorts first wrote about this issue, the FA has confirmed that, following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing that took place on 22 November 2017, the charge against Niasse was proven. Niasse will now have to serve a two match suspension.

An FA statement on the matter read as follows:

“Everton’s Oumar Niasse will serve a two-match suspension with immediate effect after his denial of an FA charge of ‘Successful Deception of a Match Official’ was rejected.

It was alleged he committed an act of simulation which led to a penalty being awarded in the fifth minute of the game against Crystal Palace on 18 November 2017.

He denied the charge, however, it was found proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [Wednesday 22 November 2017].”

The FA went on to explain that 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. Each panel member is asked to review all available video footage independently of the other panel members, in order to determine whether they consider an offence of ‘Successful Deception of a Match Official’ to have been perpetrated. Only in circumstances where the panel are unanimous would the FA issue a charge.

Given the imposition of a two match suspension on Niasse, clearly the Independent Regulatory Commission were ad idem as to Niasse’s apparent dive. The timing is not great for Everton. The Merseyside club presently sit 16th in the Premier League table, having scored only twelve goals all season. Niasse has scored 5 goals in his last 7 league matches. In view of the club’s present position, fans of the Toffees will surely have been disappointed to learn of the FA’s decision. Yet the release of the FA’s decision was not the end of the bad news for Everton fans. The same day, UEFA confirmed that the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (“CEDB”) had imposed a €30,000 fine on Everton following “aggressions by supporters against players” in the UEFA Europa League group stage match between Everton and Olympique Lyonnais on 19 October 2017.

Article 16(2) of UEFA’s Disciplinary Regulations states that:

“…all associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can prove the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match

a. the invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play;

b.the throwing of objects;

c. the lighting of fireworks or any other objects;

d. the use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices;

e. the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a provocative message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly provocative messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature;

f. acts of damage;

g. causing a disturbance during national anthems;

h. any other lack of order or discipline observed inside or around the stadium.”

The charge against Everton stemmed from the acts of one of its supporters, who was holding a child with one arm and simultaneously appeared to try to push and strike Olympique Lyonnaise players Anthony Lopes and Mouctar Diakhaby with his spare arm.

Upon identifying the supporter, Everton banned the supporter, while Merseyside Police launched an investigation and interviewed a 30-year-old man on suspicion of assault and affray before he was released under investigation.

Certainly the supporter’s conduct fell within the broad ambit of Article 16(2)(h) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, which prohibits “any other lack of order of discipline observed inside or around the stadium”. As a result, the supporter’s conduct has resulted in Everton being fined.

22 November 2017 therefore saw Everton, its player and a supporters all fall foul of both the FA Rules and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, resulting in a two match suspension for Niasse and a €30,000 fine. Not a day that will live long in the memory of many Toffees supporters…