When a UEFA disciplinary document was released yesterday, there was some hope that its listing of Lazar Markovic as banned for four matches for a barely foul against Basel was an error. The young winger’s hand had brushed the face of Behrang Safari as he blew past him, and the only doubt from replays was between whether Markovic had barely grazed the player or made no contact at all.
Safari’s theatrical reaction, though, and the referee’s angle of view, resulted in Markovic seeing straight red. It was expected that when UEFA reviewed the case he would be given the minimum one-match ban. In a worst case scenario, it was thought that if the review panel believed there was intent despite that any contact was, at most, minimal, a three-match ban was a possible if unlikely outcome.
Add in that reporters with ties to the club were suggesting a decision had not yet been reached and it was easy to believe somebody had simply made a mistake when compiling the document. Today, UEFA have confirmed that there was no mistake: Markovic has been banned for four matches for his outstretched hand that may or may not have barely touched Basel’s Behrang Safari as he blew past him.
According to UEFA officials, the extra game added to the punishment is due to the fact that Markovic has seen red in a UEFA competition within the past three seasons. This triggers a recidivism clause—Markovic is being punished as a repeat offender. This seems monumentally ludicrous in light of the actual incident, but then UEFA and monumentally ludicrous tends to go together with depressing regularity.
This is, after all, an organisation that by their refusal to offer a yellow card amnesty often sees the Champions League and Europa League finals played by piecemeal squads missing two or three regular starters on either side. Sensible handling of disciplinary issues is clearly not a strong point for UEFA, and so it should be little surprise that Markovic’s case seems to have been handled with very little sense.