There’s nothing more infuriating for a fan than watching an official share a joke with a member of the opposition. You feel your blood start to boil as they smile or perhaps share a little embrace. To the unsuspecting viewer it may look innocuous but you can’t help yourself picturing the referee wearing their ‘colours’ underneath his traditional black uniform. You know deep down it’s ludicrous that this little incident will have any effect on the game itself but that doesn’t stop you berating their apparent friendship the moment a decision goes against you. With this is mind I feel that officials will never be truly respected until they put an end to their on field ‘bromance’.
Let us be brutally honest for a moment, the ‘respect’ campaign is mutating into a bit of joke. Players, fans and members of staff still hurl a torrent of abuse at the officials every weekend, as well as surrounding the referee in an attempt to sway or alter his decision. Clubs are often charged with a ‘failure to control their players’ but the fines are so mediocre and insignificant that it remains ridiculous to believe that this will deter individuals from conducting themselves any differently.
In my eyes the officials need to realise that their relationship with the professionals exists solely in that 90-minute period on the pitch. Once the final whistle blows and they share a disinterested handshake, their affiliation with one another will only continue if a player is keen to dispute a decision made during the game.
Can anyone imagine Wayne Rooney and Howard Webb nipping down the pub for a lager shandy and a catch up after the game or perhaps Mike Dean waiting outside Stamford Bridge to give John Terry a lift home?
Perhaps I’m being too harsh, maybe if the players and the officials were to enjoy a more informal rapport then it would relieve a certain degree of stress. Players could relax and play their natural game, safe in the knowledge that they weren’t going to be penalised for every single misdemeanour, whilst the referee would be less error-prone if he knew he wasn’t going to be insulted every time he had to make a judgment call.
It all sounds perfectly logical in theory until you realise that every decision awarded for a team, is a decision awarded against the other. There is always going to be someone penalised, which is when the arguments and ill-tempered reactions spew to the surface. In this modern day culture of ‘gamesmanship’, players will do anything to ensure victory and it’s this ugly human trait that makes an official’s job impossible, serving only to intensify the pressure surrounding the match day environment.
It’s clear that football could learn a lot from other sports when it comes down to principles of respect and admiration. I flicked over to the Rugby the other day (I think I sat on the remote) and managed to catch one player address the referee as ‘sir’. I couldn’t believe it, this man mountain was twice the size and four times as wide as the referee and yet there was no bullying tactics or flood of verbal abuse. Instead the player followed each and every one of the referee’s instructions and the game continued without confrontation. It was a refreshing change from the events we see unfold week in week out across the football league. Perhaps it’s something else we can incorporate into our ‘beautiful’ game if the approval of video replays ever goes ahead.
At present officials act like giddy teenager girls when faced with the football heavyweights, either shying away from decisions or trying desperately to appease their every demand. They could almost be depicted laughing away like long lost friends who happened to bump into each other whilst crossing the pitch. They all need to take a staunch and impersonal approach, remain defiant and refuse to be intimidated under pressure. The players won’t like it but then again you don’t have to be liked, to be respected. Just ask Ryan Giggs.
Would you rather the officials distance themselves from players or would a more humane, informal approach help improve relations? Let me know below or via twitter @theunusedsub
[ffcvideo file=”tfcb8″ type=”mp4″ image_type=”jpg”]