Let me ask you a question. How would you feel, having to stand in front of forty plus thousand screaming people, see an incident in a split second, and then have to make a decision against those people. Well this is what our referees have to face in the premiership week in week out. True, nobody forces them to do it, but when we have such a low number of real top class referees in this country, should we all not be doing more to help them, rather than the constant criticism.
Yes I agree there are some really dreadful referees out there, who shouldn’t be partaking in a top flight game, but then this is up to the referees association to remove these men from the spotlight and place them in lower league games until they improve. But watching football week in week out I get so annoyed with these so called experts taking apart a referee from the warmth of the television studio, with the help of thirty camera angles and slow motion. The man in black gets one view, a split second to make a decision, at times a decision that can mean joy or heartbreak for the team and its supporters.
Surely that is enough pressure in its self, without the added difficulty that your decisions will get scrutinised by all these “experts”, with the likelihood that they will tell all the watching millions that you are incompetent and shouldn’t be in charge of a game.
Add to this the now despicable act of diving by players, and the ability to make a correct decision is almost impossible. We see it every week, a forward throwing back his head, his arms out wide, when all the defender has done is simply brush past him. The referee sees this from behind usually and has to act on it. I do think here that the assistant referees could be doing more, but that’s a conversation for another day. So the referee now has these forty thousand supporters screaming for a penalty, does he give it and take the easy way out of the stadium, or does he refuse, knowing the back door is his only route out, and that for the next week he will be slandered by the press and media. I know what I might be tempted to choose!!
Top referees may read this and think, “We don’t do that”, and yes I would have to agree with them because only they know the truth, but what about the younger referees just starting in the game. How do they feel about the prospect of becoming a hated figure? Just ask Urs Meijer how he felt after THAT England game.
Now is the time for us all to act, football always has and always will be a game of opinions, and what we must all remember is the referee has his opinion too, and we must respect that, rightly or wrongly because without them we have no football.