For some time now I have noticed refereeing standards falling fast in the upper echelons of English football. Over the festive period, however, it appeared that standards had taken a further nose dive. It seems every other game these days has a controversial issue. I am not saying that refereeing is an easy job, just that we need some proper standards. If a player underperformed in a few games he is dropped, if a manager loses a string of matches he is sacked, why is it then that referees get away with putting in poor performances again and again? It seems that the higher up you are on the refereeing ladder the worse you are allowed to be. Some of this is down to the rules, some, such as the offside rule, is confusing at the best of times. The problem as I see it, however, is consistency. One referee sends a player off for nothing whilst another allows teams to scythe each other down and does little about it. I love that football has discussion points but it is starting to get ridiculous. As a Leeds fan I watched as Ross McCormack was hauled back and would have been in on goal, why was the offending player, Broadfoot, not sent off? It is not as if that is a touch and go issue, one where the referee has to think about what would happen. The rules state a red card so a red card it should have been. A few days later I watched as Samuel Eto’o was allowed to foul Luis Suarez with no repercussions and whilst Oscar dived into challenges and did not get sent off. These are clear-cut decisions, surely the referees in question know the rules.
The problem here is that referees are protected when they make bad decisions. If a manager or player speaks out the only solution there seems to be is the fine that person. It is like referees are petulant teenagers who you have to tread carefully around lest they get upset. If there are issues we need to look at them ask if these are to do with the referee or the rules? Does the referee in question need to stand up and be counted or do we need to clarify areas of the rule book? If we delve deeper then we can solve these problems rather than just becoming another part of the blame culture. What concerns me more is that referees need protection from other areas, players that swear, diving and blatant cheating. There are rules that say that only the captain can talk to a referee but they are never upheld, why? Are they worried that they will be ridiculed? It is thoughts like this that give power to the top managers and thus mean they get favourable decisions.
One thing the BBC have said is that, like managers and players, referees should come out and talk to the media. I think this is a great idea, referees make mistakes and should be allowed to acknowledge this rather than leaving everyone else with an interest in football to fume about poor decisions or try to understand why they made a certain call. It seems to me that if we are to sort out problems with football we need to start with referees, get that right then players will not be out of hand and expect to get their own way, managers will start telling the truth a lot more as lies will just show their lack of understanding of the rules and we can discuss problems with officiating rather than either ignore them or fine whoever points it out.
I think one way to solve this is to give referees a system where they are judged on performances, maybe get points for bad decisions, when these points rack up they are banned for so many games. This would mean that referees need to get decision right, if they get the odd one wrong it would not matter but persistent poor performances would be picked up. It would also mean that there was a body who were making sure that rules were consistently applied. One thing this would clear up would be what the rules are i.e. if someone swears at the referee then they are booked no matter who they are. Referees should also have to explain their actions or apologise if they got something wrong, this would hopefully appease players and fans but all show that managers cannot just lie and take offence when their team has lost. All in all we need more respect in the game of football, we need players and managers to be true role models and the only way to achieve this is by playing by the rules. The referees are the keeps of the rules and as far as I can see they are letting people get away with acts that should be stopped, if they can not control a match then what hope do we have for everyone else in football. Something needs to be done and if FIFA won’t do it then the Referees’ Association needs to stop being petty and sort the game out properly rather than joining in with the moaning little kids that players and managers seem to have become. Rant over!
By the fact that this post is some 28 days later (I didn’t plan that it just happened and I saw a pun, well sort of a pun) it is clear that the impact of NaNoWriMo was not as strong as I had hoped. I wanted to continue the novel I got to 50,000 words on and have it out before the turn of the year. However, life is busy and I had to put sporting commitments, doing extra stuff for work and general household chores to one side to win NaNo. December meant that I had to pick up, and in many cases catch up, on these areas of my life. Safe to say that I have not seriously put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) since. The first week of my Christmas holidays is almost up and I had expected to be much further ahead. This post may, therefore, seem like an anti-climax or even a waste of time. However, I wanted to put it out there to remind followers that though NaNo is in the back of my mind it is not forgotten. More than that I wanted to remind myself that I promised to get this novel finished and that is what I will do. With a new year fast approaching, it seems the perfect time to remind myself not of the things I have to do but the things I want to do.
Yes it has surprised even me, after a stressful month I appear to have finished with large successes. At the start of November I set two challenges, to raise money for prostate and testicular cancer by growing a moustache and to write a 50,000 word novel. I planned to update regularly but as you can see by looking below this post, I only managed to do two updates here. It seems that everyone in the world knew that I was doing these challenges and thus decided to put on events that would pull me away. From friends visiting to having to work promotional evenings on to weddings, nearly every event possible happened (ok that is a little bit of an exaggeration!). By two weeks through the month the writing was teetering on the edge even if the tash was bushy and bountiful. By three weeks I was never going to complete NaNoWriMo but I had many a sponsor to my name for Movember. But you see, all those people on twitter and the NaNo site said don’t give up, just go for it. So I did. By 10pm on Saturday 3oth November I had written 50,000 words, not necessarily good words but words none the less. What is more interesting is that at the start of the month I thought I might not get the story to that many words as it was a straight adventure novel without too much plot twisting or political intrigue. Now I am looking at a draft of over 50,000 words and I am only about two-thirds through the whole novel. So the next goal is to finish it by Christmas then edit it so it is out by the end of January. But hey, NaNoWriMo was not about a finished product, a polished novel that could hit the shelves of any high street bookstore. The brilliance of it is simply that it gets you to put your writing first, some days you get home and the draw of some random TV show about dancing badgers in leotards gets in the way. But this month I said “NO, I will write,” and that is what I did. So I thank you NaNoWriMo, I thank you those who gave pep talks and I thank you copious amounts of tea because without you I would have four words written down and be moaning about the lack of time to do anything.
Oh yeah, on top of that I wanted £100 for Movember and managed to raise £170. It may have been itching all the way but I made it there too and am now free of all that excessive facial hair. Pretty good all in all. Now I have Christmas to look forward to and the stuffing of my face with chocolate, pastries and fine meats. Suppose I should do some writing and editing as well or The Journey Home won’t be out till 2020 or such like!