Recent events in the NFL would probably have me rethinking the direction behind all this. The biggest sports league in America was officiated by a group of referees who are normally extremely far removed from the pro game—and it told. But that aside for now, it shouldn’t be something that will ever crop up in England (because some of the things that happen in American sports would seem unbelievable to most who are unfamiliar). But regardless of how good or bad referees in the Premier League and even Europe are, isn’t it time they started to respect the game a little more?

I’m still a little stunned that the football governing bodies from Uefa down to the domestic leagues advocate this respect campaign between players and referees. I even remember a handful of times where referees would point to that “respect” badge on their sleeve indicating that they’re in charge and should be, well, respected. That’s all fine, and it’s right, but doesn’t it work both ways?

There’s been plenty of talk about players crowding around a referee to influence a decision. It’s a problem that needs to be worked on a little harder to remove from games. But I have a real problem with the way referees shoo players away, practically telling them to eff off should they walk with purpose towards him. Embarrassingly, for the referee in question, Clarence Seedorf was yellow carded not too long ago for asking the referee what a hold up in the game was for. It’s arrogance from the officials, and how disrespectful and cowardly do you have to be to yellow card one of the most highly respected ambassadors of the game for asking a question?

Captains should be able to talk to the referee whenever there’s a stoppage in the game. It works in other sports like the NHL, whereby a player who is not one of the captains is given a two-minute minor penalty. Enforce something similar in football and we’ll be better for it.

But referees—however not all of them—live in this bubble where they can’t and won’t allow anyone to prove them wrong. And here’s the real kicker: a lot of the time they know they’ve made a mistake. They’re so well protected through not having to give post-game interviews and having the governing bodies impose bans and fines for anyone who seriously threatens their integrity that they do in fact get away with murder.

You want strong referees in the game, especially for high-profile matches. I’m still not entirely sold on some of the referees in the Premier League and their ability to officiate at this level. But their arrogance is at times infuriating. A lot of the time they don’t seem to know the rules, or at least they don’t do much to keep any form of consistency. When is a dive in the box a bookable offence and when is it not? Are any senior referees putting their hands up to make a genuine case to smooth out these issues?

The incident at Old Trafford a number of seasons ago between Manchester United and Tottenham was a good example of the carefree attitude of referees. Mark Clattenburg’s casual fling of his arm to indicate a controversial goal was embarrassing. Is that the best we have? And don’t any of the two captains dare approach him to question the decision, they’ll promptly be booked for such an act.

Massimo Busacca’s decision to send off Robin van Persie for his shot on goal at the Nou Camp a second after the whistle blew for offside was beyond any realm of logic and smacked wholly of arrogance. It didn’t make any sense and it’s something that isn’t enforced by other referees around Europe. Busacca, coincidently, was one of Europe’s senior officials. If memory serves, Arsene Wenger was given a fine for questioning the referee following his ridiculous decision.

In a recent postseason match in the MLB between the St Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, an incident occurred that brought up one of those rules that you hardly ever see in a game. It prompted many experts in the game and news outlets to point out the ruling and summarise what it meant and how it applied to that particular event. Needless to say it was extremely controversial. One of the pleasant things to see was the umpires explain their decision following the game in a press conference. Whether the call was right or not, at least we got to hear from them rather than have some retired official paraded around on TV giving his take.

I’m not buying this respect campaign from officials because it seems they’re immune to any form of confrontation or questioning. They don’t care what kind of effect their decision will have in the bigger picture and further down the line, and a lot of the time it seems they go into a game with a preconceived agenda.

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  • clive
    2 years ago

    Good points,and well presented. I for one agree with everything you’ve said.

    Reply
  • ken
    2 years ago

    refs have lost us at least 6 points,suarez stampped on and the ref stood and laughed try explaining that to a 9 year old who was watching as you say it doesnt matter what they do they get away with it.

    Reply
  • james
    2 years ago

    i agreed with everything….except the van persie thing, clearly kicked the ball away in anger, nobody would shoot from that distance with his body not even facing the goal, deserved the booking

    Reply
  • Tom
    2 years ago

    Soccer at the highest level is an all action game played by 22 players who’s main objective is to get a result in any way possible and cheating and simulating are often some of the ways . Managers encourage this sort of behavior and players are instructed to so from youth squads. Case in point; always claim the throw- in , even if you put the ball in to touch . The game is governed by corrupt entities in form of FIFA and EUFA with antiquated rules. It’s been 46 years since the controversial goal in 1966 World Cup Final between England and Germany and yet we still don’t have goal line technology. Yes, the RVP sending off against Barca by Mr. Bussaca was probably the worst red card ever but postulating that referees are the biggest problem in world football is short- sighted. They are human and they will make mistakes because the deck is stucked

    Reply
  • MikeN
    2 years ago

    Nobody would disagree that the job of a referee is a hard one. However, it is the arrogance and the total lack of any kind of accountability from officials that is wrong. I remember the arguement that standards would improve when referres became paid. Can anyone honestly say this has worked out?

    Reply
  • Will
    2 years ago

    Referees are like police: they possess asbsolute power and can abuse it absolutely if so desired. Most coppers are good but not all and I have enjpyed their dark side more than once. The PL is so even now that most close matches are DECIDED by the referee. Yes ..spare me the stats as it has been the same since the PL started and even before. Nothing like seeking attention eh Mr webb?

    Reply
  • AlanH
    2 years ago

    Agree wholeheartedly, two things I would have added regarding proper man management. One refs should stop this “cut it out gesture” which is purely for TV and have a quiet word with the player that is your final warning, without the hand gestures that do nothing to garner respect. Secondly when a player is fouled and immediately displays the “give him a yellow card gesture” then he should be given a yellow card for unsporting behaviour

    Reply
  • Quis
    2 years ago

    I believe it’s time all the whiny b*tches that complain about referees get their certification cause they obviously know everything about refereeing.

    It’s obvious they have been running the field for high profile matches, running more than the players obviously or they wouldn’t be complaining like children now.

    All these people that sit sucking suds and crisps by the bag watching all the replays over and over again can’t be wrong can they. It’s obvious that a ref running the play can see through the players at every dive, oops… infringement.

    Or that the assistants, while watching the release of the ball and every attacking player to make sure there is no offside, are also watching all 20 of the outfield players for every possible infraction.

    Jesus wept… get a f*cking life.

    Reply
  • amno
    2 years ago

    Epl is a registered trade Mark of Manchester united.

    Reply
  • Danny
    2 years ago

    A referee will admit a mistake after the match. But to do so during is suicidal and they’d be boll***ed by their superiors for doing so. Also a captain is allowed to speak to the referee, however, a captain is not allowed to abuse the referee, there’s a difference. I’m a football fan, a season ticket holder, and I can see all of these points of views are very biased from the fans view.

    Reply
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