Early Doors

Is a three-match ban really enough for spitting in someone’s face?

Early Doors

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Joe Hart clashes with George Boyd

Hull City's George Boyd provoked fury and outrage on Saturday.

Not with his effort to try and win a penalty against Manchester City, but by subsequently appearing to spit in the face of Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Though the incident was missed by referee Lee Mason, replays seemed to show Boyd spitting directly into Hart's face at near-enough point blank range:

Boyd has now been charged by the FA, and has until 6pm on Wednesday to respond.

But a new debate has now sprung up on social media about the punishment that should be handed out if he is found guilty.

The FA's standard punishment for spitting at an opponent is three matches, and the last time an incident occurred in the Premier League - when Wigan's Antolin Alcaraz was caught spitting at Richard Stearman of Wolves back in November 2011 - that is exactly what happened.

Yet many fans are already calling for a longer ban, presumably based on the actual spitting itself - which appeared to be directly into Hart's mouth at close range. As Early Doors said at the weekend, it was, "one of the nastiest and most disgusting acts seen on a football pitch for years".

That proximity of the players makes the whole affair seem rather different to the Alcaraz incident, in which the players were much further apart, and the spit was in Stearman's direction and landed, less offensively, on his torso:

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Wigan's Antolin Alcaraz brings disgrace upon himself in 2011

Still unpleasant, of course, but nothing like as distasteful as Boyd's effort, which prompted many fans to share the view that they'd "rather be punched in the face" than spat at:

The only thing that may spare Boyd is that Hart had escalated the incident beyond the normal run of play in the first place.

Hart felt Boyd had dived to try and win a penalty, and Hart responded furiously, pressing his forehead against Boyd's in a highly aggressive manner:

Crucially, perhaps, Hart stopped short of an actual headbutt on his opponent, and he has been spared FA action.

But it may be that the FA sees Hart's attempt to impose his 6'5" bulk on Boyd (who is four inches smaller, at 6'1") as enough of a provocation to stick with a three-match rather than push for an exceptionally long punishment.

What's more, Hart was unaware in the heat of battle that Boyd's saliva had flown his way, until he was informed of it after the game.

So now, it's over to you. Is a three match ban for Boyd enough for an incident that, while bad, came in the face of provocation by an opponent? Should the FA make an example of him to send a clear, strong message about one of the most demeaning acts in football? Or maybe you think this is just a storm in a spitbucket and Boyd should get just a ticking off.

Have your say in the comments box below.

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