Jose Mourinho looked straight down a BT Sport camera, said ‘f**k off, sons of a bitch’, and got away with it.
An independent panel decided not to charge the Portuguese manager for improper language after the 55-year-old’s foul-mouthed rant at the end of Man United’s 3-2 win over Newcastle.
According to the Times, the club cited Jordan Henderson’s vulgar tongue as evidence for Mourinho’s innocence.
It is alleged that United drew the three-person panel’s attention to the Liverpool midfielder’s audible outburst during England’s 0-0 draw with Croatia in Rijeka.
His distinctive Sunderland accent could be heard asking the a member of the Croatian coaching staff: “Are you the f***ing ref?”
United questioned why Henderson had not been punished if they intended to slap Mourinho with a touchline ban for a similar offence.
Of course, the only reason Henderson’s barb was heard so clearly was because the game was played behind closed doors.
Still, snitching on Hendo seemed to work.
It’s impossible to state just how fortunate Mourinho is to escape punishment in this case.
The Times estimate that 99.5% of the FA’s charges are upheld, putting Mourinho in the 0.5% of accused that have got away with it.
The FA have not failed in a high-profile case such as this since 2013, when they failed to get Eden Hazard’s ban increased beyond three games after the Belgian kicked a Swansea ball boy.
Wayne Rooney received a two-match ban for swearing into a camera in 2011.
Mourinho has effectively been deemed innocent for the exact same thing (just in Portuguese).
Can you imagine the furore if United’s actions had prompted an investigation into Henderson’s conduct?
What if they had hindered England’s Nations League hopes by effectively campaigning for Gareth Southgate’s vice-captain to be suspended?
Tensions between United and Liverpool are fractious at the best of times, this latest development will hardly help matters.
More than that, it sets a dangerous precedent.
United have proven that highlighting other indiscretions can be effective in avoiding punishment.
Surely every club will follow suit in future cases of a similar ilk?
And all hell will break loose the first time such a tactic proves to be the catalyst for an opponent’s suspension.
You’ve won this one, United, but at what cost?