The Football Association (FA) have revealed their reasoning behind Virgil van Dijk’s extended ban that followed his red card against Newcastle last month.
The Liverpool captain was shown a straight red by referee John Brooks for denying a goalscoring opportunity on Alexander Isak, during the Reds’ 2-1 win at St James’ Park.
Van Dijk was clearly incensed by the decision and initially stayed on the pitch, remonstrating with Brooks, while the incident was checked by VAR.
After VAR upheld the decision, Van Dijk could be seen to mouth ‘f***ing joke’ in the direction of Brooks, before leaving the pitch slowly and continuing to show his disapproval to fourth official Craig Pawson.
While the red card would normally have only resulted in a one-match ban, Van Dijk has been forced to sit out an extra fixture and pay a fine of £100k after receiving a charge of improper conduct for his reaction to the decision.
In the full written reasons provided by the FA, the three-man commission looking at the case explained why the Liverpool skipper was given such a harsh punishment.
They wrote (via the Liverpool Echo): “Notwithstanding the guidance that a player may remain on the field of play during a VAR review, the commission found that, following the completion of the review of the incident, VvD did not leave the pitch for approximately another 15 seconds.
“This contributed to the prolonged nature of the incident. The commission further noted the impact of the actions used by VvD. Despite the clear frustration he felt at the time, it was inappropriate to display it in the manner he did; specifically his body language and hand gestures towards the referee.
“This was further exacerbated upon leaving the field of play when he continued to protest to the fourth official on the touchline, and only ceasing when his manager intervened. Such actions are highly inappropriate and avoidable.
“The commission also discussed the context of the match and the fact that the Premier League is one of, if not, the most watched football league in the word. As such, all participants have a responsibility to adhere to the core principles of behaviour. In this instance, the commission believed the actions and words used by VvD fell significantly short of such standard.”
It was also revealed that Van Dijk could have received a three-game ban, plus an additional £50k fine, but for his clean disciplinary record.
In his own submission to the commission, Van Dijk confirmed he had ‘immediately’ apologised to both Brooks and fourth official Pawson at the end of the game.
Writing on his behalf, Liverpool submitted a statement that clarified: “He [Van Dijk] is adamant that he did not call the referee a ‘f***ing joke’ and that he was referring to the referee’s decision and the subsequent decision by the VAR not to overturn the decision when he said ‘absolute f***ing joke’.”
Van Dijk will be absent for Liverpool’s trip to Wolves on Saturday, as they resume their Premier League campaign following the international break.