Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele looks set to be handed a lengthy ban after being charged by the Football Association for an alleged act of violent conduct against Chelsea forward Diego Costa.
Monday’s feisty Barclays Premier League encounter at Stamford Bridge produced 12 yellow cards as well as two mass brawls involving players and coaches from both sides, as Chelsea fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 – a result which handed the title to Leicester.
The Football Association confirmed on Wednesday a disciplinary case had now been opened, charging Spurs and Chelsea with three counts of failing to control their places, while Dembele was also facing action.
Dembele appeared to claw his fingers down Costa’s face during a skirmish at the end of the first half, and has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.
If the allegations are proven, then the Belgium midfielder is almost certainly set to be suspended for the remaining two matches of the current season, and any ban could be rolled over into the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
A strongly worded statement from the FA read: “Both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have been charged for three breaches of FA rule E20 for failing to control their players and/or officials. It follows incidents which occurred in the 45th and 87th minutes and also at the end of the game at Stamford Bridge on Monday night (2 May 2016).
“Both clubs have until 6pm on Monday 9 May 2016 to respond to their charge.
“Meanwhile, Mousa Dembele has been charged for an alleged act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video during the same game.
“The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was involved in an incident with Chelsea’s Diego Costa near the end of the first half.
“Further, it is alleged the player’s behaviour constituted violent conduct in circumstances where the standard punishment of three matches that would otherwise apply is clearly insufficient.”
The FA statement clarified how o ff-the-ball incidents, which are not seen at the time by the match officials, are referred to a panel of three former elite referees, who will each review the video footage independently to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence.
For retrospective action to be taken, and an FA charge to follow, the decision of the panel must be unanimous.
There were several other incidents of petulance during the game and matters came to a head again at the full-time whistle when a melee in the tunnel resulted in Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink being pushed to the ground.
Tottenham defender Danny Rose, who sparked the first brawl after clashing with Chelsea midfielder Willian and was booked, has since apologised for how the game may have looked to young viewers.
Elsewhere, Erik Lamela appeared to tread deliberately on Cesc Fabregas’ hand, Eric Dier was lucky not to be sent off for a reckless challenge and Costa was also fortunate not to receive punishment after leaning his head into Jan Vertonghen’s face.
The ill-feeling continued after the game as another scrum outside the tunnel saw Hiddink fall to the ground while the likes of Rose, Costa and Vertonghen grappled with each other.
The charge of failing to control players and/or officials carries an initial set fine for a club’s first offence in a season.
However, both Chelsea and Tottenham have already faced such a sanction following incidents in respective games with West Brom, so could face more severe action from the authorities.