Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte: Outcome of Misconduct Charges brought by the FA
The FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission (“the Commission”) have published the written reasons explaining the outcome of their decision regarding the misconduct charges brought against Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte for a breach of Rule E3.
In our previous article, we discussed the charges brought against Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte following the Chelsea FC v Tottenham Hotspur FC fixture on Sunday 14 August 2022. The charges were subsequently admitted by the two managers and they both were content for the matter to be dealt with by way of a paper hearing. The Commission sat on Friday 19 August 2022 to determine the sanctions to be imposed on Mr Tuchel and Mr Conte.
Factors considered by the Commission
There were various factors taken into account by the Commission in considering the appropriate sanctions, including:
- The fact that both Mr Tuchel and Mr Conte are managers of their respective clubs and, therefore, ought to be held to elevated standards of behaviour. The written reasons state “they are looked up to by their staff, players and supporters and they, quite rightly, are expected to set and maintain the highest standards of behaviour”.
- Both Mr Tuchel and Mr Conte had admitted the charges and sent written letters of apology:
- Mr Tuchel’s letter stated: “At the end of the match I approached Mr Conte to shake his hand as an act of sportsmanship. Mr Conte took my hand but did not look at me and I considered his demeanour to be a sign of disrespect towards me. I therefore held on to his hand as he walked past me and told him to look me in the eyes when he shakes my hand. Mr Conte replied in Italian and acted very aggressively towards me. I did not react to his aggression and did not say anything insulting to him...I acknowledge that I could and should have dealt with Mr Conte’s conduct towards me in a more appropriate manner (for example, by speaking to him privately afterwards)…I apologise to The FA and to the Regulatory Commission, for having to bring and consider the Charge”.Mr Conte’s letter stated: “I would first like to apologise to the Commission for the events that happened after the game against Chelsea…the Referee blew the final whistle, I wanted to congratulate my players and acknowledge the away fans, as well as the home fans who I still hold with great affection after my time managing the club…so not to create any further unease between us I wanted to quickly shake hands and move on…I extended my hand towards him with the intention of briefly shaking his, however he grabbed my hand and did not release his grip. Due to his very firm grip my arm jarred causing me to be pulled backwards. I was both surprised and unhappy that such handshake caused me to be pulled back with such physical force. I did not over-react to this provocation and with the circumstances was proud of how I handled myself. Had I made any reaction then I understand the situation would have been much worse.”
- The Commission considered that it was Mr Tuchel who instigated the confrontation by choosing to grip Mr Conte’s hand and jolt him back. Had Mr Tuchel not done so, the incident would not have occurred.
- The reason given by Mr Tuchel for gripping Mr Conte’s hand (i.e. that Mr Conte did not look him in the eye) was not justifiable. The Commission stated “cursory handshakes are a common occurrence at the end of highly charged football matches and there exists no obligation for one person to look the other in the eye whilst shaking hand”.
- The confrontation between the two managers caused a mass gathering of staff, players and stewards that could have escalated the situation. In addition, the game was a London derby and the crowd was highly charged – the confrontation was likely to have increased tensions between the rival fans.
The Sanctions imposed by the Commission
In light of the above, the Commission decided that it was appropriate to impose a fine in the sum of £35,000.00 on Mr Tuchel as well as a one-match ban. To reflect the Commission’s belief that Mr Tuchel was significantly more culpable in respect of causation of the incident than Mr Conte, it decided to only impose a fine on Mr Conte for a lessor sum of £15,000.00.
Further charges brought by the FA against Thomas Tuchel
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the matter for Mr Tuchel. The FA has confirmed that another charge has been brought against Mr Tuchel for breach of Rule E3 in respect of comments made in his post-match press conference (after the same fixture against Tottenham Hotspur FC) about the referee, Anthony Taylor.
During the post-match press conference, Mr Tuchel was questioned about the fans’ belief that there are issues with Anthony Taylor that had been ongoing for some time. Mr Tuchel said: “yeah, not only the fans…you know the players, they know what’s going on, and they’re on the pitch and they know it”. Mr Tuchel was then asked if the players were worried when this referee takes on their games, to which he answered “of course”. Later on in the press conference, a journalist said that some of the Chelsea FC fans think that Anthony Taylor had made a few bad decisions against the club. In response, Mr Tuchel said “I don’t think some of the fans think that. I can assure you that the whole dressing room of us, every single person thinks that”.
The FA has stated that the comments made by Mr Tuchel constitute improper conduct contrary to Rule E3.1 as they imply bias and / or question the integrity of the match referee, and / or bring the game into disrepute.
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