Soccer Poking Ban Should Be Warning, Says Copa Official

  • TV replays mean soccer players can't hide, Lozada says
  • Chile's Jara suspended after poking rival's buttocks

You are being watched.

That’s the message that soccer players should take away from the suspension given to Chile’s Gonzalo Jara at the Copa America, said a member of South American soccer body Conmebol’s disciplinary panel. Jara was caught on video poking his finger between the buttocks of a rival and then feigning injury when Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani reacted by swiping his hand across Jara’s face.

Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci sent off Cavani for a second yellow card after Jara’s dramatic fall to the ground in last week’s Copa America quarterfinal. Chile went on to win 1-0 to reach the semifinals, where the host nation defeated Peru 2-1 on Monday night.

“Technology is acting on the players,” Alberto Lozada, one of the three officials who decided Jara’s sanction, said in an interview in Santiago, Chile. “That has to be the new attitude. It’s a new world and they have to act in a different way because if we start working with technology they need to take care. That situation wouldn’t have taken place if the player didn’t fall over without a reason.”

Chilean coach Jorge Sampaoli criticized the decision to take retrospective action, saying there would be “endless complaints about things that happen like that.”

The incident comes amid moves to belatedly introduce video technology to aid refereeing decisions during play. Outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who had long opposed technological assistance, said last year that he was in favor of allowing coaches to mount “one or two” challenges to refereeing decisions per half. In February a decision to introduce video replay trials was delayed pending further discussion.

Bolivian Lozada said the three panel members who made the decision had long discussions about the length of Jara’s ban. The officials even considered a five-match ban, he said.

On Monday, Jara’s ban was reduced from three games to two games following an appeal. The referee said he missed the incident, which took place with about 30 minutes to go and the score 0-0. Chile’s winner came in the 81st minute and Uruguay finished with nine players and also had its coach dismissed.
What Jara did was worse than Cavani’s reaction, Lozada said.

“The one that does the trick should be punished harder,” he said.
 
Lozada’s committee has been under scrutiny since issuing a four-match ban to Brazil’s Neymar. The forward clashed with Colombian players following a 1-0 loss in the second group-stage game.

“They are role models,” Lozada said.

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