columnist Rob Facey wonders whether referees explaining their
decisions would help improve strained relations between officials and everyone
else in the game.
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has called for referees
to publicly explain contentious decisions, arguing that greater transparency
from officials will lead to greater respect from players and managers.
"There are angles and
TV cameras are everywhere, and we are debating these decisions for days
afterwards, and some have been very costly to teams and that is always going to
be the case," O'Neill said, as reported in the Birmingham Post.
"If there is something
unbelievably contentious in the game, which has sent it in another direction
and been very costly, I can't see why there is any reason that they can't come
out and explain.
"I can't see why they
can't say ‘This is what I thought at the time, I am prepared to be wrong, I
don't want to be wrong.'
"What I don't want
them to do is be phoning football clubs on a Monday morning and apologising
just because someone has told them to.
"It would be better if
they said publicly ‘I made this honest decision, this is what I thought. Sorry,
I have got it wrong'."
While there can be no doubt about the sensibility of
O'Neill's requests, is there anyway this will ever come to fruition in England?
The Respect campaign has been publicly criticised by Roy
Keane and Joe Kinnear in recent weeks, so are O'Neill's ideas merely adding to
the discontented voices within the Premier League, rather than helping the
After all, even if the official explains his decision, he
can not change the result. Being demoted to a lower league, as already happens,
is the best thing that the manager can hope for.
If refs were asked to explain themselves, would this make
their bad decisions easier to swallow or merely exasperate the situation?
Has the Respect campaign flopped as a result of
refereeing incompetence or was it always destined to fail?
Is there anyway that the initiative can be salvaged? Will
referees explaining decisions and holding press conferences help their plight,
or will it only heap more pressure on them?