Are referees too whistle happy?

When you watch a game of football, more often than not the referee does something that people disagree with, it could be a small thing like awarding a throw in for the wrong team or something much more serious like awarding a penalty that should never have happened. Either way, we seem to come away from games criticising the officials instead of praising them. It is increasingly rare to say that the referee did a brilliant job – more like they will stay in your memory as someone for your team to avoid.

One of the major reasons for this is something that is all too common during a game of football these days is to see the officials blow up for minor fouls time and time again, totally interrupting the flow of the game and not letting things take their course.

Referees seem to be more whistle happy than ever before, and whatever FA directive is being pushed at the time seems to be clamped down on as soon as the referee even senses it is about to happen, meaning that tackles are virtually always a free kick or card offence and the thinking time that a referee can so vitally need to make the correct decision is often ignored.

That is not to say that all referees are poor or bad at their job, we all understand the pressure cooker of being in the middle of a huge game with managers like Fergie screaming at you from the side lines – awarding a couple of extra minutes Fergie time – sorry injury time – may seem like a small price to pay to save yourself from the wrath of the big man.

The Premier League’s top rated referee Howard Webb is constantly referred to as Fergie’s twelfth man and whilst this is not totally true it speaks volumes about the reputation of the men in the middle and just how quick we are to criticise every decision they make.

Now more than ever officials are so worried about missing an incident during the game they blow up for every little thing, and whilst sometimes this can stop an incident from blowing up and escalating too far, it also means the game can suffer with both players and fans becoming frustrated – how many times can you remember feeling aggrieved because your team would’ve been better off taking the advantage instead of the free kick awarded, or the fact that a quick free kick can’t be taken because the referee won’t let it?

Let’s not forget that referees have to impress the FA as well as the public and the players, meaning there is yet another factor to add to the pressure. Of course they probably feel that criticisms and articles like this pointing out their flaws aren’t particularly helpful either but if footballers and managers have their every move scrutinised, why shouldn’t referees?