FA reject Leeds United appeal over Pascal Struijk's red card for tackle on Liverpool's Harvey Elliott
The FA have rejected Leeds United's appeal over the red card shown to Pascal Struijk for his challenge on Liverpool's Harvey Elliott.
Leeds formally submitted their appeal on Tuesday, believing that Struijk had won the ball and the injury to Elliott was accidental, but a decision to reject it was swiftly reached.
Struijk will now miss the next three games including Friday night's important trip to Newcastle United, leaving Marcelo Bielsa short of options in the centre of his defence. German international Robin Koch has been out since the opening day of the season with a pelvic problem, while Diego Llorente hobbled out of the Liverpool game with the fifth injury of his first year at Elland Road. The Spaniard has revealed on social media that it is not a serious problem, but if he is unable to recover in time for Friday then Bielsa will likely move Luke Ayling to centre-half and use Stuart Dallas or Jamie Shackleton as his right wing-back.
As for Struijk, the 22-year-old is serving the first suspension of his career, having never before been sent off until Sunday night. Referee Craig Pawson initially allowed play to go on after Struijk's tackle, before the reactions of Mo Salah and the Liverpool bench showed how seriously Elliott was injured. The 18-year-old's ankle was trapped under Struijk's trailing leg and dislocated badly. Pawson consulted with his on-field team, including fourth official Andy Madley who was standing yards from where the challenge took place, and produced a red card. The YEP understands VAR looked at the incident and decided there was no clear and obvious error to correct, so the red card stood. Leeds were beaten 3-0, although Liverpool were two up and in full control before Struijk received his marching orders.
Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey told the YEP that like Pawson, he too felt it was a fair challenge on initial viewing.
"When I saw the challenge live on tv it looked a fair challenge," he said. You can clearly see Craig Pawson thinks the same thing, he's in a good position and he doesn't give a free-kick. I was surprised to see a red card come out. When you have a challenge that endangers a player's safety with excessive force and or brutality, straight away you go 'that's a red card' but I didn't see anything untoward. Craig Pawson has seen it as a fair challenge."
Halsey, who suggested Leeds probably would appeal, was not convinced the tackle was worthy of a red card but understood the officials coming to their conclusion based on the severity of the injury. However he did feel VAR could have disagreed.
"With this challenge, was he out of control of his actions, did he use excessive force with brutality? You have to say no. Obviously it was a nasty injury but he's gone in, got the ball and his leg has gone onto Elliott's ankle and dislocated it. A careless challenge is a free-kick, a reckless challenge is a yellow card, a challenge that endangers a player's safety with excessive force or brutality has to be sanctioned with a red. I suppose you could say it endangered a player's safety because of the injury, but every challenge a player makes potentially endangers another's safety.
"I would imagine Leeds would [appeal] but you can understand perhaps the officials sending him off on the injury. VAR should check that and the outcome shouldn't be determined by the injury but by the law."