Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been banned for three games, after the English football association found him guilty of violent conduct during the Premier League clash against Arsenal on Saturday, reports ESPN.
Costa was caught on television cameras appearing to try and gouge the eyes of Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny. Costa then swung his arm striking Koscielny in the face.
The incident was not seen by match officials at the time, but an FA committee reviewed the video evidence and punished Costa retrospectively.
Costa’s violent conduct was part of a sequence of ugly events instigated by the Chelsea striker, which led to Arsenal player being sent off only moments later.
Costa’s assault on Koscielny riled his Arsenal team-mate Gabriel, and after becoming embroiled in a running verbal exchange with the Chelsea striker, kicked out at Costa. The referee Mike Dean showed Gabriel a red card after much protestation from Costa and additional pressure from other Chelsea players who surrounded the official.
Video replays also showed that Costa had scratched Gabriel’s neck, seconds before the Arsenal player retaliated. Astonishingly, Costa received no punishment at the time for any of his actions.
The FA released a statement on Tuesday.
“An FA charge against Diego Costa for violent conduct not seen by the match officials but caught on video has been found proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing. The Chelsea forward will, therefore, serve the standard penalty of a three-match suspension with immediate effect.”
Costa will now be banned for three domestic fixtures, missing Chelsea’s visit to Walsall in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night, and two EPL matches against Newcastle and Southampton. Costa will return to domestic action on October 17. Costa’s ban will not apply to the UEFA Champion’s League, and he will be available for selection in that competition.
Chelsea released a brief statement on their website in response to the ruling.
“We are extremely disappointed with the FA Regulatory Commission’s decision to suspend Diego Costa. We will await their written reasons before commenting further.”
Costa had denied the charge despite clear video evidence of the incident, a decision that may have antagonized and hardened the FA’s stance.
Costa’s plight may not have been helped either by comments made by his Chelsea teammate Kurt Zouma. When asked for his opinions on Costa, Zouma replied, “Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponents out of his game, and that happened in the game.” He later apologized for the comments claiming his remarks were the result of poor English language skills.
Costa’s behavior and lack of sportsmanship attracted much criticism from the press and fellow professionals, but Chelsea manager José Mourinho immediately jumped to the defense of his striker after the match, hailing Costa as the “man of the match.”
Mourinho became very agitated during a post-match press conference when journalists questioned him about Costa’s conduct, perhaps a sign of the pressure he and his players are under after Chelsea’s worst start to a season since 1988.
Chelsea’s campaign is only six weeks old, but they are already eight points behind leaders Manchester City, and sitting 15th in the Premier League table, just two places off the relegation zone.
Their season has been dogged with controversy from the opening day – a dispute between Mourinho and his medical team, the substitution and dropping of club captain John Terry, a number of bad tempered interviews and then the Costa incident.
There was no sign of the controversy fading though, as late Tuesday it was reported by the BBC that club doctor Eva Carneiro had left the club and was considering legal action.
Carneiro was criticized publicly by Mourinho, allegedly abused verbally by him and then demoted after appearing to do nothing other than simply follow her professional duty by attending to a Chelsea player who was injured. Mourinho reacted furiously claiming that the act had demonstrated ‘naivety’ and a lack of football understanding.
Chelsea were drawing against Swansea late in the game, and treatment being given to a player meant that Chelsea were temporary left with nine players on the pitch, having already had their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois sent off.
The betting odds on Mourinho leaving Chelsea have been cut, as the poor performance, and continued negative publicity that his conduct and managerial style attracts, may be testing the patience of billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Mourinho’s surly behavior and negative tactics are rumored to be the principal reasons he was not considered for prestigious coaching roles at Manchester United and Barcelona when positions became available over recent years.
[Image credit Ross Kinnaird/Getty Imagees]