During the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Crystal Palace (2022-08-15), Liverpool's Darwin Núñez was sent off for a headbutt on Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen.

It is my understanding that a straight red card for serious foul play / violent conduct is an automatic 3-game ban, however there have been numerous reports in the media in the aftermath of the incident that Núñez could be banned for more than the standard three games. As an example of this happening before, Luis Suarez was infamously handed a 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic in 2013.

What is the procedure for determining an extension to the 3-game ban?

For example, in Rugby Union, if a player is sent off they are required to attend a Disciplinary Committee hearing, in which the referee's report of the incident, the player's reflection on the offending action, the player's past discipline record, plus other factors, are all taken into account to determine how long the suspension is.

Note: For scope, and as I believe this will likely differ between football associations - I will be looking for procedures from the English FA, as that is who Núñez's suspension resides with. Although if there is a standardised FIFA/UEFA procedure that is followed by the FA, then that is fine, too.

  • I haven't had a chance to go through it in detail but I strongly suspect the answer is in the FA Handbook in Section 11 "Disciplinary Regulations", starting on page 172 of 713(!) of the handbook.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 16, 2022 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


My understanding, as an experienced referee of soccer/football at many levels, of the way that suspensions are determined (in Australia at least) is that all the factors you have mentioned are considered against prior cases as precedent for punishment.

In Australian sports at many levels of professionalism, these decisions are specifically made by lawyers specialising in interpretation of the Laws of the Game (or equivalent for a given sport) and competition rules. This is intended to remove prejudice or biases from the decision and remove the sports governing body (such as the FA) from the process.

In this specific example, the review committee might look at factors such as malice, force or intent. While there is no excusing Núñez's actions, they would have been objectively worse if, for example, he had held Andersen's head and directed his headbutt more directly into his face, or followed the initial strike with one or more subsequent blows.

As for procedures, as far as I am aware, these are specifically held in confidence by the reviewing bodies, but can be assumed to be fairly similar to regular courtroom trial, albeit without a jury.

  • 1
    Hi! We're looking for more than an individual's understanding, unless you have professional knowledge of the matter (e.g., a referee or official of a football association). In particular, rule citations or similar evidence are expected in answering questions like this. Thanks!
    – Joe
    Aug 23, 2022 at 14:38
  • Hi Joe, thanks for that, I do have experience as a referee at many levels of the game. I will add this to my answer, but was also trying to emphasise that these matters are actually beyond that of referees or even the governing body.
    – Stitt
    Aug 23, 2022 at 22:29

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