FFA backs integrity of Match Review Panel system

Football Federation Australia has today reaffirmed its commitment to the current Match Review Panel system after unwarranted criticism by the Newcastle Jets.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has today reaffirmed its commitment to the current Match Review Panel (MRP) system after unwarranted criticism by the Newcastle Jets.

FFA has also defended the integrity of the MRP members who conducted the review of the matter involving Joel Griffiths of Newcastle Jets.

“The MRP system is designed to strike a fair, sensible and proportionate balance between the demands of running a professional competition and providing clubs and players with an opportunity to be heard,” said Head of Hyundai A-League Damien de Bohun.

“The Hyundai A-League is one of the few leagues in which a red card can be overturned and an automatic suspension waived under the Obvious Error provision.”

FFA said the MRP comprises one former FIFA referee, one former Socceroo who played professionally in Australia and abroad as well as one member who was a national league player before becoming a referee.

“The MRP is ideally composed of people with a range of football experiences who work independent of FFA,” said de Bohun.

“Any assumption as to how individual members approach cases based on whether they are a former referee, former player or a former player/referee is uninformed and has no foundation in fact.

“A club has no knowledge of the deliberation of individual panel members, nor should they because it-s an independent review that produces a collective outcome.”

For the purpose of clarity, FFA provides the following key points about the MRP process and the matter involving Joel Griffiths of the Newcastle Jets.

1. The Match Review Panel is not a judicial body. Its purpose is to review incidents and then propose any appropriate additional suspension above the automatic one match suspension that-s mandatory for a red card under FIFA-s Disciplinary Code regulations. The MRP does not impose or hand down suspensions.

2. The MRP does not rely solely only on the referee-s report. It also reviews all available TV footage, which includes up to eight different camera angles, some of which does not go to air as part of the match broadcast.

3. A player/club always has the right to a hearing at which he can make a submission. A player is not denied natural justice. He can choose to accept the MRP proposal or reject it and have a full hearing with legal representation before a judicial body chaired by a Senior Counsel. If this course is taken, there is no effective MRP sanction in place as its proposal has been rejected by the player/club. The Disciplinary Committee makes a decision from scratch after seeing and hearing all the evidence.

4. This option was available to Joel Griffiths and the Club who chose not to take this course. The club has accepted the player was at fault and in fact has decided to impose its own additional sanction on the player.

5. The Club-s statement that “FFA advised that it was highly likely the penalty would be increased at a hearing” is categorically denied by FFA. When a matter goes to a hearing there is no sanction in force to be either “maintained”, “increased” or “reduced” (other than the automatic one match mandated by the mandatory FIFA Disciplinary Code arising from the referee-s decision). The Club was correctly advised that at a hearing the Disciplinary Committee decides any additional sanction itself and in doing so may take into account a player-s prior disciplinary record.

FFA conducted a major review of the A-League Disciplinary Regulations in 2008 and again in 2011. Additionally, the system is reviewed each off-season. All clubs and the PFA are invited to make comments on the system each year.

The 2011 major review of the system included all clubs having the opportunity to make written submissions which were then considered at a full day workshop by a working group comprising representatives of FFA, the PFA and the Clubs. This working group proposed changes to the system which were supported and adopted by the Clubs. In the past two seasons, the post-season review has attracted a total of four submissions from three clubs across the two years. FFA will conduct its annual review at the conclusion of the 2013/14 season.