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BBC article suggests FA system is flawed

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The Football Association has defended its near perfect record in disciplinary cases last year involving clubs, players or managers.Its Independent Regulatory Commission heard 473 cases between December 2010 and December 2011, but only two of them ended in "not guilty" verdicts.

According to the BBC, The FA's disciplinary system has been in focus after it banned and fined Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

There have been a number of high-profile cases over the last year.

Former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 by the FA for posting a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Man Utd shirt on Twitter.

QPR were also fined £875,000 after being found guilty of two of the seven charges against them relating to the ownership of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.

Stuart Gilhooly, a leading football solicitor contriibuting to the debate described the 99.5% "conviction" rate as "extraordinary".

With none of those 471 cases being overturned on appeal, he said the FA's system needed urgent review.

"A body with that sort of conviction rate needs to look at its procedures," said Gilhooly, a legal representative for the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland who has worked on a number of key cases for the Football Association of Ireland.

"It is as if you are guilty until proven innocent and that is not in the interests of justice."

An FA spokesman said: "The FA only pursues cases if there is a case to answer. We must remember we are ruling on sporting merit. Let's make this clear - we're not sending people to prison."

"The comparison with the public criminal law system is unfortunate, as we are not comparing apples with apples - they are fundamentally different,"

Another sports lawyer, who preferred not be named, described the FA as "police, judge and jury all rolled into one".

He added: "Your chances of success before them, Uefa and Fifa are virtually nil.

KT

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