During Liverpool’s loss to Brighton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Fabinho seems to have gotten away with a bad tackle on Evan Ferguson. That’s according to the PGMOL — Professional Game Match Officials Board — who came out on Monday to say that officials were wrong for only sanctioning the midfielder with a yellow card.
Referee David Coote booked Fabinho, and the decision was not overturned by Neil Swarbrick, who was in charge of the VAR overview.
The challenge happened only moments after Fabinho came on to replace Stefan Bajcetic in the 85th minute when the game was tied at 1-1. With the match on such a razor’s edge, and with Fabinho just making his entrance, Coote might have been lenient to avoid complaints that he unduly influenced the outcome after the fact.
Ferguson went off the pitch limping from the injury to his Achilles and left the stadium on crutches. The full extent of his injury is not yet known. The issue, according to the PGMOL, is that while Fabinho didn’t go in with high intensity, his studs fully connected with the back of Ferguson’s ankle.
Should Fabinho have been issued the red card, it would have been followed by a three-match ban for dangerous play.
Jürgen Klopp defended his player after the game saying, “There was no dynamic in it. I just saw it once, not a second time. With dynamic movement, we can talk about a red card, but Fabinho was more lying down, then he hit Ferguson. Not cool.”
It’s clear the poorly timed tackle was a mistake and without ill-intent, but the rules don’t take intent into account, even though the referees often do. Regardless, Liverpool and Fabinho got a let-off, even if they ended up losing the match and bombing out of the FA Cup in the process.