Who’s going to sort out these referees?

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!

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