Carra joins calls for Luis ban to be overturned

The FA are due to make a decision today on appeals from Liverpool and West Ham against the red cards awarded to Luis Garcia and Hayden Mullins on Wednesday night. Referee Howard Webb confirmed after the game that the cards were given for violent conduct, which carries an automatic three match ban, and that means both players will miss the FA Cup final if the decision isn’t overturned.

Liverpool’s captain on the night, defender Jamie Carragher has added his voice to the growing list of those who feel that the sendings off were harsh to say the least. Carra says: “From what I saw I just assumed the referee would show them a yellow card each. Hopefully, when the referee has another look this will be the case. If he stands by his decision then the FA should get involved.”

The main argument is that both teams see the red cards as harsh, but a secondary argument is that the fact the two sides meet in Cardiff means that the effects of the bans negate each other: “It’s a very strange situation that probably won’t ever happen again where two teams who are due to meet in the final have a player each sent off. Neither team gains an advantage. It’s a shame for both players because if the referee sticks to his decision then they may never get another chance to play in an FA Cup final.”

Garcia was clearly in tears, the red card coming just two minutes after he’d entered the field as a sub, and Carra says that Mullins was also upset: “I know the West Ham lad from playing for England Under-21s and he was in tears after the match. Luis was devastated and really subdued when going down the tunnel, as you’d expect.”

The FA do have the power to overturn the red cards, but this seems unlikely unless Howard Webb agrees he overreacted. Yesterday Reds boss Rafa Benítez and West Ham boss Alan Pardew both commented on the harshness of the punishment. For Rafa a change to English red card rules would be more suitable for the future, where the length of a ban is not automatic but reviewed on its own merits: “It is not easy for the referee but for me the most important thing is that the two players apologised to each other and the referee and it is not that serious an incident. In Spain we have the possibility of banning for two games, three games, four games. Suspending the players for two games and leaving them available for the final would be enough because it was not a serious incident.”

Rafa also pointed out that the fact the two teams involved in the final both agree that the ban is wrong should add more weight to their appeals: “We know how important the final is. It is not as if it is better for us or better for them, in this case it is good for both players and the two teams involved. That is the reason both managers had the same idea. I think someone must be sensible. The situation is very clear.”

Pardew said: “I hope there is common sense and they will show some sympathy. By the letter of the law, perhaps they should have been sent off – but we are all in agreement the FA should show some clemency on this. We are both playing each other in the final so it is not affecting anybody else. A tiny little incident has cost them both a very special day.”

Pardew says that if the decision isn’t overturned it will but a big cloud over the final: “It was a little moment but, as it stands at the moment, they will both miss out, which will be a big, big shame and take away from what I think will be a terrific final.”

For Carragher the possible absence of Garcia would see Liverpool without the player most suited to the big game: “It would be a big blow to lose Garcia for the final. He’s a big game player. Whenever we play a big game he seems to produce the goods for us. One piece of magic can win you a game and the FA Cup final is a massive game.”