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Who’d Be A Referee?

Sun, 10 May 2009

Sepp Blatter has stepped in to have his say on the standard of refereeing at the highest levels.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes making referees fully professional would improve the standard of officiating in big matches.

Blatter spoke out in the wake of Chelsea’s controversial departure from the Champions League semi-finals.

“I will repeat it, and I have been saying it for 10 years at least, we must improve refereeing,” he said.

“It’s time to have professionals. We should only use professional referees in high-level competitions.”

I don’t know where Blatter has been, but he appears oblivious to the fact that even with professional referees, serious mistakes are far too common at the highest levels of English football.  I don’t know what the situation is in France or Italy, but I doubt it is any better.

The response of PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor was to call upon UEFA to use for video evidence in the biggest games.

Earlier in the week, I looked at the continued refusal of FIFA and UEFA to use video technology for critical decisions in major competitions.

Better training and remuneration for referees with greater exposure to the highest levels of the game, such as former professional players, is only part of the equation.

Football has fallen far behind other major sports such as rugby, cricket and tennis in the use of video technology to deal effectively with potentially controversial or contentious refereeing or umpiring decisions.

Football’s administrators continue to bury their heads in the sand.  If political or military leaders sent peacekeeping soldiers into a conflict zone without the best available equipment, they would come in for much flak.

Football administrators are hardly criticized for continuing to insist that referees can do a their job in the face of often angry and hostile managers and players without the best available equipment.

FIFA and UEFA appear to have their own motives in maintaining a high degree of subjectivity in refereeing decisions.  The use of technology to achieve greater objectivity is disavowed, despite high profile or serious mistakes continuously being made by professional referees, such as those in England.

The media is complicit. Controversial decisions generate viewership and readership, which is ultimately what the media wants.  TV money funds much of footballLike I said:

I will not continue to watch a match in which there is a poor decision which is likely to affect the outcome of the game, such as a controversial sending off or penalty. If more of us did that, the TV companies may have no choice but to put pressure on the football authorities to get their act in order. No amount of complaining by managers, players and fans seems to work.

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4 comments

  1. From the entry on SC Paderborn on Wikipedia:

    The club is known for its involvement in a notorious German Cup contest played against First Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on August 21, 2004. Paderborn upset HSV 4:2 and it was revealed in January 2005 that the match referee, Robert Hoyzer, had taken money from Croatian gambling syndicates to fix the match using two wrongly awarded penalties and a questionable red card. It soon developed that the game was only one of a number in which game officials, coaches, and players accepted payment to influence the outcome.


  2. On BBC Football:

    The Scottish Football Association is to issue statements over controversial refereeing decisions in all domestic matches from the start of next season.

    An official will contact Hugh Dallas, the SFA’s head of referee development, on the day of the match to explain the decision that followed an incident.

    Dallas will, ideally, review available footage before issuing a statement clarifying the referee’s decision.

    The SFA sees this as a way of dealing with potential controversy quickly.

    Its reluctance to comment on controversial decisions has been a source of frustration for club managers.


  3. More controversy:

    Fifa has rejected a complaint from Egypt over referee Howard Webb awarding Brazil a match-winning penalty in their Confederations Cup contest.

    The English official initially appeared to signal for a corner after Egypt’s Ahmed El Mohamady handled on the line late on in their 4-3 defeat on Monday.

    But Webb then sent off the defender and gave a penalty which Brazil converted.

    Egypt claim Webb took advice from the fourth official who may have seen a TV replay but that was rejected by Fifa.

    ….

    Fifa has consistently chosen extra manpower rather than technology to help referees and matches in next season’s Europa League will see two extra officials stationed behind the goals to monitor penalty-area incidents.

    Replays have been employed with some success in tennis, rugby union, rugby league and cricket.


  4. [...] don’t blame referees as much as I do clueless administrators at the top levels of the game, clinging on to their [...]



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