Early Doors

What does ‘arbitrary’ mean?

Early Doors

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'Arbitrary' is a popular word at the moment.

It has been used by both Arsenal and Chelsea to describe recent judgements made against them.

In Arsenal's case, the two-match ban given to Eduardo over his dive against Celtic; in Chelsea's, the 16-month transfer ban imposed for inducing Lens' Gael Kakuta to breach his contract - both clubs are lodging appeals.

Given its trendiness, Early Doors thought it would dust off its dictionary and find out what 'arbitrary' actually means.

The tome on the mantelpiece, 'My First Illustrated Oxford Dictionary', failed to acknowledge the word at all - surprising when you think how useful such legalese could prove to any misbehaving kid.

"You're sending me to bed with no pudding? That is without precedent to this level and totally disproportionate to the alleged offence. I cannot comment further until I receive the full written rationale for this extraordinarily arbitrary decision."

Undeterred, ED ploughed into a grown-ups' dictionary and found the following: "Decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute."

If we accept that definition (and ED insists that we do), then the clubs are wrong. In the case of both Arsenal and Chelsea, a law certainly does exist.

It's just that the relevant authority does not enforce it very often - that's where the accusations of arbitrariness comes in.

In both cases - Chelsea's especially - the clubs appear to be objecting not to the verdict but the sentence.

Arsenal have not said Eduardo did not dive. They have just said nobody can be sure he did. Unless they have eyes, presumably.

Arsene Wenger said: "Eduardo might be a bit cautious because of the injury that he had. He might have jumped out of the way." In yesterday's statement the club said UEFA's decision was "deeply flawed and not based on any forensic review of the video evidence available".

And let's look again at Chelsea's reason for appealing their transfer ban: "The sanctions are without precedent to this level and totally disproportionate to the alleged offence and the financial penalty imposed."

That makes their position tougher to defend. Everyone else might be getting away with something, but if a law exists they have little room for complaint if they fall foul of it.

ED has to be careful what it says as they have taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But would a club that had done nothing wrong say "the sanctions are ... totally disproportionate to the alleged offence"?

Surely they would be more likely to say: "This is an outrage. We are completely innocent of any wrongdoing."

Of course, ED might be reading too much into the words of Chelsea's statement.

The nub of the matter is Lens' claim that Chelsea made an illegal approach for Kakuta before his 16th birthday when, "according to French training rules", he was under contract.

Chelsea say Kakuta was playing as an amateur in the Lens academy, was not registered with the French Football Federation and was therefore a free agent.

FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber sided with Lens.

ED only hopes laws are enforced systematically and universally, whether it is UEFA cracking down on diving or FIFA stamping out illegal approaches for players.

They may now have little choice. Le Havre have already made a complaint against Manchester United over the signing of Paul Pogba - which United have described as "nonsense" - and a glut of similar cases is sure to follow.

And the scrutiny any act of simulation will now receive should be apparent to anyone forced to sit through multiple replays of Emmanuel Eboue tripping over an invisible dog last weekend.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I asked to not play because I had pains in the ankle, especially because Brazil against Argentina is more important." Robinho on why he did not play for Manchester City against Portsmouth last weekend. And to be honest, it's hard to disagree with him.

FOREIGN VIEW: Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has come under fire from Jose Mourinho after annoying the Internazionale coach with his career advice for teenage full-back Davide Santon.

Juventus defender Cannavaro suggested the 18-year-old might have to leave Inter in January to land a place in the Azzurri's World Cup squad next year if he is not playing regularly for the Serie A champions.

"Players like him and (Inter's 19-year-old striker) Mario Balotelli must play and not in training," Cannavaro said.

"He must find a way to play, otherwise, he risks missing the World Cup."

Mourinho hit back by warning Cannavaro his Juventus team-mates might be the ones who end up taking his advice.

"Cannavaro is still a player but he talks like a coach, director of sport or president," Mourinho said. "But he is mistaken and he forgets some details that do not concern Inter.

"For example, given that he and (Giorgio) Chiellini play at Juve, (Nicola) Legrottaglie must evaluate whether to change team in January or he'll miss the World Cup.

"And young talent (Sebastian) Giovinco must assess his options for the future well too."

COMING UP: Live scoring of tonight's games in League One and League Two, plus cricket, tennis and lots of weekend previews.

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Lens back Chelsea punishment

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