I bemoaned last week that football can't be a level playing field at all levels, but something I've heard about subsequently has made me think again.
Altrincham player James Smith has been banned for three games by the F.A. for using his elbow on Mansfield's Jake Speight in an off-the-ball incident. None of the officials saw the incident so how, I hear you ask, could there be a case for him to answer? The explanation is simple: YouTube!
Yes YouTube, the agent's friend! Until now, it seemed its only use was in helping to flog mediocre footballers on to unsuspecting, rash clubs with more money than sense. A carefully placed, well-edited video can make any mediocre striker look like Pele! Expunge your dodgy keeper's errors with some creative use of Windows Movie Maker and you'll get half a million for your Lev Yashin save-alike!
Smith was caught when video of the incident was posted on the ubiquitious video-hosting site. The incident happens around the thirty second mark, and it's clear he did it. So fair enough, but the fact that Graham Heathcote, Altrincham's manager, has complained that this will lead to mobile toting fans bringing rough justice to players up and down the land. So what if they do? If it helps catch players out when they think, in the apparent safety of the Conference, their misdeeds will be obscured, then good! And anyway, that was the official match video on there, not a fan's video! It all smacks of the sort of sour grapes we usually get from Alex Fergsuon!
There's one question raised which makes me wonder though; if the official videos can be used like this, why doesn't this happen more often? Was it the fact that it was made public that forced the F.A. into action? If so, that isn't a great precedent.