Watford winger Richarlison could be the first-ever player to be punished by the FA’s new retrospective disciplinary panel, following his alleged dive in the Hornets’ 2-1 win against Arsenal on Saturday evening.
The Brazilian appeared to dive as he raced into Arsenal’s penalty area with Hector Bellerin in hot pursuit. Though Bellerin attempted to play the ball, he connected with neither ball nor man, but Richarlison still went to ground with referee Neil Swarbrick awarding the penalty. Troy Deeney then stepped up to convert Watford’s equaliser.
Former Premier League referee Graham Poll believes that the incident was a dive from Richarlison, feeling the winger is in serious danger of being made an example of by the FA’s retrospective disciplinary panel.
Poll, speaking to The Sun, said: “It just didn’t look right to me. My gut feeling was it wasn’t a foul. Neil Swarbrick had a good view of it. It’s deception, without a question.
“There is no contact. That is as clear an example of a dive as you’re going to see and the FA’s review panel need to have a look at that.”
The FA’s retrospective disciplinary action system was introduced for the start of the 2017-18 season, where a selected panel of former players, managers and officials decide whether or not a match official has been deceived through the act of simulation which results in either a penalty or a red card for the opposing team. Should a player be found guilty, they will be awarded a two match ban.
Arsenal took the lead at Vicarage Road thanks to a Per Mertesacker header on the stroke of half time. However, Watford responded with little time to go, with Deeney converting Watford’s controversial spot-kick in the 72nd minute, leaving Tom Cleverley to steal the spoils in the second minute of injury time. Marco Silva’s side now sit fourth in the Premier League.
On a day to forget for Arsenal, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger was seething with the performance of referee Swarbrick.
“We were unlucky. That penalty was a bit ridiculous. I think it’s a scandalous decision.
“We got ourselves into many situations when we could have scored, but we did not take the chances. In the first half we played extremely well.”