The Scottish FA has detailed the reasoning behind Ryan Christie’s ban after the player found to have fouled Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos.
Christie was banned for three games at a disciplinary hearing earlier this week, when an independent panel found he was guilty of violent conduct by striking Morelos in the groin during Celtic’s 2-1 defeat to Rangers on January 29.
No action was taken by referee Kevin Clancy during the game but the Scottish FA compliance officer reviewed the incident and served Christie with a notice of complaint.
The governing body has now published the reasons for the decision and outlined the process that led to the Scotland midfielder being suspended.
The report reveals that compliance officer Claire Whyte and two former referees felt that the incident was marked by “brutality” and that Morelos’ groin was “targeted”.
As per the Scottish FA rules, Whyte sought the opinion of three former top flight referees who were unanimous in their view that Clancy has missed a sending off offence, meaning that a notice of complaint was issued to the player.
A hearing date was set and Christie, who is currently with the Celtic squad at their winter training camp in Dubai, attended by video link.
The panel heard the argument that Christie “deliberately committed a violent act whereby he struck an opponent in the groin, with excessive force when not challenging for the ball. It was submitted that this was not a reflex action or an unintended consequence.”
Clancy and his assistants gave evidence that they had not seen the incident at the time.
For an incident to be classed as violent conduct, the rules of the game say that the action must involve “brutality or excessive force”.
The reports reveals that “Given the sensitivity of the area of the body targeted by the alleged party, the Compliance Officer categorised the act as one involving brutality and also submitted that this was manifestly apparent from the video footage available of the incident.
“The three former match officials, following a review of the video footage had each separately confirmed that the alleged act amounted to a sending off offence for violent conduct. Two of these former match officials believed that brutality was also evident.”
After reviewing footage of the game and hearing arguments from Celtic and Christie, the panel ruled that the Celtic midfielder had been guilty of violent conduct and should be suspended.
Christie was handed a two-game ban for the incident but serves an extra game, having already been sent off this season.
Following Monday’s decision, Celtic accused the Scottish FA of a “worrying lack of consistency”.
The club issued a statement which read: “Given the recent treatment of Celtic players and the lack of sanctions being imposed on those responsible, the fact that a sanction has been imposed on Ryan for the incident in question demonstrates a worrying lack of consistency in the Scottish FA fast track process.
“Naturally, we will be contacting the Scottish FA regarding our concerns. Scottish football deserves a disciplinary process which is fair, consistent and fit for purpose.”