Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte charged by the FA for a breach of Rule E3

The Football Association (“the FA”) has confirmed that Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte have been charged for a breach of FA Rule E3 following the Chelsea FC v Tottenham Hotspur FC fixture on Sunday 14 August 2022. The FA have alleged that the behaviour of both managers was improper following the end of the fixture.

Tensions were high throughout the match and the two managers were given yellow cards following an altercation that occurred after Tottenham Hotspur FC’s first goal in the 68th minute. They then had to be separated at full time, when an angry handshake ended with the pair squaring off against each other. Both managers were given a red card by the referee, Anthony Taylor, and will therefore be suspended for their respective team’s next fixtures.

FA Rule E3

This rule relates to general behaviour of participants. FA Rule E3.1 states “a Participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour”.

The process

The FA Rules state that procedural matters concerning misconduct shall be dealt with in accordance with the FA’s Disciplinary Regulations.

Under paragraph 31 of the Disciplinary Regulations, where any facts or matters give rise to alleged misconduct, the FA will serve a charge which shall: (1) state briefly the nature of the alleged misconduct, (2) identify the provision(s) that are alleged to have been breached, and (3) enclose copies of documents or other material referred to in the charge.

Within 7 days of service of the charge, the participant must serve a reply which admits or denies each charge (or part of the charge) and states whether they wish for the matter to be dealt with on written submissions alone or at a personal hearing.

Where there is a hearing, the participant must attend the hearing in person (where the participant is an individual), and they will have an opportunity to give evidence in their own defence. The FA shall nominate an individual (or individuals) to present the charge and make submissions in support of the charge.

The Regulatory Commission will first consider whether or not the charge is proven and, in doing so, will have regard to any admission made, any witness or other evidence placed before it, and the parties’ submissions. The Regulatory Commission will provide a written statement of its decision and, should a party require written reasons for the decision, they must make a written request within 7 days of receipt of the written decision.

How is a breach of FA Rule E3 determined?

The recent written reasons for a decision made in relation to a charge against Frank Lampard (the current manager of Everton FC) provide useful insight on how the Regulatory Commission will determine whether or not a charge for misconduct has been proven.

Mr Lampard was charged with misconduct by breaching FA Rule E3.1 by his post-match media comments following the fixture between Liverpool FC and Everton FC on 24 April 2022. When asked about a penalty appeal which did not result in the award of a penalty for Everton FC, Mr Lampard stated:

Well, it’s a penalty in the second half, for me … I don’t think you get them here and, I think, probably if that’s Mo Salah at the other end, I think he gets a penalty. And I’m not … trying to create conflict here, I think it’s just a reality of football sometimes. Maybe I played at clubs, sometimes, that were top eight reaches of the league, and the crowd behind them, and … you get them or you don’t. For me, for sure, that was a penalty. The second one on Anthony. It’s a foul, it’s a clear foul. But … you don’t get them here”.

The written reasons stated that the burden was on the FA to prove the charge and to do so on the balance of probabilities. The question the Regulatory Commission had to determine was “whether it is more likely than not that the comments made by Mr Lampard are improper and, as such, amount to misconduct, whether by implying bias, attacking the integrity of the referee, or referees generally, or whether they bring the game into disrepute”.

The Commission considered that the “reasonable bystander” test was the correct approach in determining breaches of FA Rule E3.1. The Commission concluded that “the reasonable man would consider that Mr Lampard was implying bias on the part of the Match Referee or otherwise attacking his integrity and that, accordingly, his conduct was improper and in breach of Rule E3.1”. The charge was therefore proven and a fine of £30,000.00 was imposed on Mr Lampard.

What next?

Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte have been given until 18 August 2022 to provide their respective responses to the charge.

If the Regulatory Commission subsequently decides that the charge has been proven, it can impose any one or more of the penalties set out at paragraph 41 of the Disciplinary Regulations, including a reprimand and / or warning as to future conduct; a fine; and suspension from all or any specified football activity.

There is a historic rivalry between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC, and this is not the first time that charges have arisen following a match between these two teams. In 2016, in a match that has since become known as “the Battle of the Bridge”, there were 3 mass confrontations between the teams, 3 yellow cards given to Chelsea FC and 9 yellow cards for Tottenham Hotspur FC (which is a Premier League record for any team in a single match). The FA issued charge letters against both clubs, charging them with 3 separate breaches of (what was then) FA Rule E20(a), under which clubs are responsible for ensuring that its players, officials, employees and representatives do not “use words or otherwise behave in a way which is improper, offensive, violent, threatening, abusive, indecent, insulting or provocative”. Following a hearing, a fine was imposed on both clubs, they were both warned as to its future conduct, and they both had to make a contribution of 50% towards the costs of the Regulatory Commission.

For more information on what amounts to misconduct in football, click here.

For advice on any alleged breaches of the FA Rules and how to manage the disciplinary process, please contact Vikesh Navsaria, Senior Associate, at [email protected], or call us on 020 7632 4300.




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