Simply ruining the game?

When was the last time a weekend went by when we weren’t discussing controversial refereeing decisions, and game changing mistakes from the men in black? It seems that officiating errors are becoming increasingly frequent, with today’s referees too quick to act, thus ruining the spectacle of the game.

Jack Rodwell’s sending off in the Merseyside derby over the weekend was the latest in a long line of decisions that have left managers cursing, and have dragged up the debate about officials in the game. Refereeing decisions can ultimately change a game, and there has been a very high number of wrong decisions so far this season, which have affected the outcome and the spectacle of matches.

The Rodwell tackle seemed a perfectly legitimate tackle. He won the ball, and Luis Suarez was caught in his follow through. To give a foul was harsh, but the red card shown by Martin Atkinson was totally the wrong decision. It seems that referees have become overly fussy about tackles, and have lost the ability to judge between a dirty horror tackle intended to cause harm to an opponent, and a good old fashioned robust challenge. There is a distinct danger now of the game becoming too sanitised, as almost any contact made seems to draw punishment.

What was more annoying about the Rodwell sending off, was the fact that there were several tackles in the match which were arguably worse, yet went without punishment. There just isn’t any consistency in refereeing decisions, and all too often the ref’s are far too whistle and card happy, not allowing the game to flow like it used to, with the constant stop-start nature of the interruptions. Common sense needs to prevail, and referees need to show competency, but most of all consistency in their decisions. There also needs to be consequences and they should be more severely reprimanded should they make poor decisions.

This is another aspect of the game that brings up the debate over video technology, as surely it would be a benefit to referees, in those big decisions-over say a possible red card-to review the incident. The play these days is so quick, and referees have a split second to make their decisions, so it is understandable that they can’t get them all correct. When decisions are so important, we need to get the right and fairest result, and going to video technology would be the best way to achieve this, although the powers that be still refuse to entertain this possibility.

Referees must be given all the help they can. After all they are only human and humans make mistakes, unfortunately for them their mistakes are amplified, as they are in the spotlight. They also have to deal with the modern day footballer who-unfortunately for the game-tries to con and cheat their way through matches, which doesn’t help the referee.

Supporters just want to see a competitive match with 11 versus 11. It’s fair enough if someone has done something to warrant not being on the pitch, but more often than not we are seeing decisions that are not really justified. The referees are taking the limelight far too often these days and exerting their authority unnecessarily, thus ruining the spectacle of the game for supporters who have spent their hard earned cash to see the match.

Decisions ultimately change games, and the right ones need to be made. The referee has a tough job, as they are put under an enormous amount of pressure before, during and after the game, but we can’t keep excusing the consistently poor level of officiating we see week in week out.

Do you think referees are starting to ruin the spectacle of the game? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or following me on Twitter @LaurenRutter for more comment and debate.
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