If this is the new policy, fine. I don’t actually object to that. After all, I’m all for stamping out this kind of nonsense. Jack was immature and rude, and he deserves a suspension. However, the two-match suspension seems capricious and even a bit harsh, coming as it does without previous warnings, without explanation, and in contrast with previous such incidents. Might Jack have thought twice if he had known that he’d miss two matches? Probably not—as he probably wasn’t thinking all that much about it in the first place. It was impulsive almost by nature.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that an unseen finger merits closer scrutiny and punishment than an unseen rash tackle or blown offsides that cancels a goal baffles me. A middle finger is rude and hurts feelings, and, yes, children probably saw it. Stars and garters. Where’s my fainting couch when I need it? However, cleats-up tackles can, at the risk of getting hyperbolic, can end careers.
So it looks like we’ll be reading tea-leaves rather than knowing for certain ahead of time how the FA will judge further offenses. Will the next middle-fingerer also get a two-match ban, or were their circumstances that mitigated—or exacerbated—the nature of Wilshere’s transgression? It’s hard to know. The FA offers without much help the following:
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been suspended for two matches by an Independent Regulatory Commission. Wilshere was charged by The FA with making an offensive and/or insulting and/or abusive gesture during the fixture between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 14 December. The incident was not seen by match officials but was caught on video. Whilst admitting the charge, Wilshere claimed the standard sanction for this offence was clearly excessive. The Commission rejected this claim and the two match suspension will commence with immediate effect.
Thanks, FA, for being as transparent as muddy water on this one.