The debate over Michael Oliver’s decision to award Mohamed Salah a penalty on the stroke of half-time during Monday night’s game at Selhurst Park continues to rage on with one particular Everton fan quoting the exact words given by the FA when handing Toffees striker Oumar Niasse a suspension for simulation in the wake of their trip to SE25 last season.
So, Oumar Niasse was banned for two games for his dive at Selhurst Park…
"the nature of the contact made by Dann was minimal and would not have thrown Niasse off balance and knock him down in the way he portrayed"
I think you could say the same for Mo Salah's dive… pic.twitter.com/xiPnmUKJW3
— Ed (@dixiessixty) August 21, 2018
Whilst there was undoubtedly contact made between Palace defender Mamadou Sakho and the Reds’ Egyptian talisman, the official statement given to justify Niasse’s ban last term read: “the nature of the contact made by Dann was minimal and would not have thrown Niasse off balance and knock him down in the way he portrayed” an interpretation which goes hand in hand with the theatrical manner in which Salah tumbled to the turf, screaming in anguish as he fell.
Although a retrospective ban for Salah would fail to redress the balance in Palace’s favour, it’s worth remembering that the official title used for Niasse’s suspension was “Successful Deception of a Match Official” which surely leads to the assumption that any obvious exaggeration on the Liverpool frontman’s part should see him facing up to the same punishment ahead of this weekend’s fixtures?
For what it’s worth, I felt as though there was enough contact made by Sakho to justify Michael Oliver pointing to the spot but I do wonder why so many pundits were quick to claim “he’s got every right to go down” when Zaha is routinely labelled as a diver for doing so after being kicked with far more force at a greater pace.
If contact alone is enough to legally prompt a player into going down, neither Niasse nor Salah did anything wrong. If the interpretation rests on an overly theatrical fall in relation to the severity of the contact, the FA have no choice but to treat the Liverpool striker in exactly the same way as the Senegalese star, not that I’ll hold my breath on that front.