Referee Abuse Must Stop

I have not written for a while and was going to make a comeback during the upcoming World Cup in Russia, but something has come to light this week which has angered me so much that I had air my views.

A video of a referee that was chased and kicked on the floor after blowing for full-time in an amateur cup final in London was released. This is without a doubt the most appalling video of an assault on a referee in the UK that I have ever seen.

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This is the worst assault on a match official we have seen on British soil.We all must stand up together or it will only get worse – Ref Support UK

 

Regardless if they offending team felt the referee had made none, 1, 2 or 50 errors during the match, this is no way to treat a referee. For too long abuse towards referees has been seemingly accepted as part of their job. Frankly this is absurd! Referees, like anybody in any job, should be able to do their job without fear of being attacked or abused.

How do we as a football community stop this trend of attacks on referees? Recently the FA has been issuing tougher penalties on professional players surrounding match officials when they disagree with a decision. This is a good first step as the youth players will often copy the traits of their favourite players, so if this type of behaviour can be stopped at the top it should eventually become good practice with the younger generation.

Another step would be to allow referees to wear body cams, or at the very least have a trial scheme so a study can take place of their effect. A camera would not stop someone attacking a referee but it would be a massive deterrent. Players would think twice about saying or doing anything knowing it will be recorded.

I spoke with Ref Support UK who issued this statement: “We believe the recent attack on a Referee in London record and sent to Ref Support UK should be treated as a watershed moment in our game to trigger a positive effective response from The Referees department of the FA. Ref Support UK have for a long time pushed for body cams to be allowed in football. We can see no reason why they are not allowed. IFAB recent law clarification on Cameras was,in our opinion, a reckless and irresponsible move that discriminates against grass roots referees. The elite games have the protection of match recording at every game hence assaults on match officials do no occur at professional level. We have asked IFAB and the FA to allow a pilot of body cams to investigate the benefits of allowing BWC. in Football” – Martin Cassidy CEO of Ref Support UK

I for one personally wholeheartedly agree with Martin Cassidy and Ref Support UK. I am not saying every referee needs to wear a body worn camera but the option should be there. I have officiated in some leagues where the decent is minimal. I have also officiated in some where you question why you decided to become a referee.

I consider myself very fortunate to have not been physically attacked whilst refereeing.  I have written before about an incident where after the game I was verbally abused by a player that I cautioned during the game because I would not put the caution through as a dismissal! One thing which was said to me was “I bet you love sticking the corner flag up your a**e” It was fairly early after qualifying as a referee, I didn’t know what to do next. I remember travelling home thinking to myself that there is no way that I can let this slide, I had to do something, this player and his teammates who shouted more abuse needed to be held accountable. I contact my County FA’s Referees Development officer who told me to send in a misconduct report but instead of stating the players name state the team name.

I was never told the outcome of my reports and I always wondered what happened to the main culprit and his team mates. Were they banned? I never found out, I think if referees were told of the out come of misconduct reports in would encourage more to send them in.

I cannot work out why at least a trial scheme hasn’t been initiated. If it’s tried and not proved successful then we can all say ‘at least it was tried’. But I can’t imagine it not being a success. The decision makers at the IFAB need to visit parks on a Saturday and Sunday and see what we have to deal with!

I urge anyone who reads this that agrees BWC are a good idea to follow Ref Support UK on Twitter or like their Facebook Page and keep up to date with their campaign.

Start As You Mean To Go On

This weekend sees the opening games of the 2016/17 Barclays Premier League. I recently wrote about the changes made to the laws of the game and as the games kicked off, I was hoping that the referees would be really hot on dealing with dissent as they have been instructed to do.

In Middlesbrough’s first game back in the top flight for 7 years two players were booked for dissent, when last season I believe nothing would have been given to them for these incidents.

First, veteran goalkeeper Shay Given was given a yellow card for running 25 yards or so, out of his area to confront referee Kevin Friend after Boro’s Ramirez had fouled Pieters. Some would say this decision is harsh but it needed to be done to show how referees are going to be dealing with dissent from now on. Lets be honest about this, there was no need for Given to speak to the referee, especially as he isn’t the captain. If the referee feels a yellow card or more is needed, he doesn’t need anyone who isn’t in his officiating team to advise him on what he needs to do.

The second incident of dissent from Middlesbrough Vs Stoke was after Arnautovic was fouled he turned towards the referee and angrily shouted something. I think it’s safe to assume that he would’ve liked the player that fouled him to have been booked or sent off. However, his petulant actions were not necessary. A free kick was awarded so he should’ve got up and got on with the game.

Having only watched highlights of this game I can’t comment on every decision but from what I did see, I have to say Kevin Friend had an excellent game in the middle. He even brought play back for a free kick when there was no advantage.

I hope all referees, not just those in the Premier League, take note of this performance. It’s important to set the marker early so that it can have a positive effect on the game.

Law Changes

With the new season getting ever closer, I thought it would be good to look at some of the changes to the laws of the game (LOTG) that the IFAB have made.

The most notable change is to Law 8, The Start and Restart of Play. The ball now no longer needs to be played forward. When refereeing young children I would sometimes have to tell them that they needed to play it into the oppositions half. Thinking about it I’ve had to tell a few adult teams too! Another change to this law is the restart at corners and free-kicks. “Clearly moves” has been added to the law so teams will no longer be able to do sly touches to catch their opponents off guard, like Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs did to Chelsea in 2009.

Another one that stands out is a change to what is being called the ‘triple punishment law’. Previously if a player player committed a foul and it denied a goal scoring opportunity he would’ve automatically been sent off. Now, if the foul is deemed to be accidental as opposed to reckless a yellow card will be enough punishment. I think this is a good change and will keep the games competitive.

When a player goes down injured, if the offending player is cautioned or sent off, the injured player does now not need to leave the field of play for quick treatment.For me this should have been changed to be under the referees control completely. A player could pick up and injury from a challenge that does not warrant a yellow or red card, but he/she may not really need to leave the pitch for treatment.

Players will no longer be booked for a handball stopping an opponent receiving possession of the ball but will be cautioned if it stops a promising attack. I can see this still causing controversy as it will be the referees opinion if the attack was going to be promising or not, and the TV pundits will have looked at 100 different camera angles to prove the referee wrong!

Also being outlawed is the last second stutter before taking a penalty, with those found guilty of the illegal feint will be shown a yellow card and an indirect free-kick awarded to the opposition. This will be interesting to see this one enforced!

 

Chapter 28 – I’m back!

I must apologise for my lack of blogs recently. I’ve not had the time to sit down and write anything although when watching the highlights I’ve had ideas but not the time to get anything written!

As always there was plenty of controversy about but I will focus on 2 incidents that occurred over the last seven days, one from the Premier League and one from the Champions League.

First at Upton Park on Sunday, high flying West Ham met in form Swansea, where the visitors were reduced to 10 men after keeper Fabianski was dismissed after charging out of his area in an attempt to beat hammers forward Sakho to the ball.

The Senegalese striker seemed to knock the ball past Fabianski with his hand as the Polish stopper attempted to impede Sakho. Sakho stayed on his feet, a rare thing in the modern game, carried on to have an attempt at goal which hit the post.

Swans manager Gary Monk said that it wasn’t a read card as it wasn’t a clear goal scoring opportunity as the effort didn’t go in plus there was a handball before the foul. All good points but let me break it down and I’ll explain why the appeal was unsuccessful.

Referee Chris Foy blew his whistle at the point of contact between Fabianski and Sakho so he couldn’t of known that Sakho would miss. I think that with no keeper in the goal everyone expected a goal.

The decision by Mr Foy not give the handball was a great call. As Sakho was sprinting his arm was in a natural position when his hand made contact with the ball so couldn’t have been deliberate. But as a football fan I can understand why Swansea would feel hard done by. If it happened to my team I would be annoyed in the heat of the moment!

The other incident this week happened between Liverpool and Basel. As Lazar Markovic was being closed down he stuck out an arm and it looked like a finger caught the eye of Behrang Safari.

The pundits after the game said that it was a harsh sending off but not really when you look at it properly. The reaction of the player despite looking a little over the top I don’t feel it was that. If you get flicked in the eye it can be quite painful.

The Markovic looked to see where his opponent was before sticking out his arm and had they been closer it could’ve been an elbow that caught the Safari.

Striking an opponent or attempting to strike an opponent is a sending off offence. I believe, as did the referee that this was the case!

Take time to think about what you say about referees decisions as they don’t have all the replays that us viewers have! Put yourself in the referees boots and remember the refs view!

Chapter 26 – You Don’t Know What You’re Doing?

Every referee that does the big games hopes to show what he can do, whether it’s a big derby, a cup final or a game between two fierce rivals, like Chelsea versus Arsenal at the weekend.

Martin Atkinson was the man in charge for this clash at Stamford Bridge. It was always going to be a busy afternoon for him but I don’t think he expected to be as busy as he was.

It was 20 minutes into the game when he had to make the first of many big calls. Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez had the ball by the touchline, and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill comes across to try to tackle his opponent, but he gets it all wrong and goes over the top of the ball and into Sanchez’s knees. Mr Atkinson shows the Chelsea defender a yellow card. For me this challenge was with excessive force and should’ve been a red card! To defend Mr Atkinson, it looked like at the point of impact his view may have been blocked, so he may not have seen just how bad the challenge was.

Chelsea were rightly awarded a penalty when Koscielny brought down Hazard. The Arsenal defender was showed a yellow card. Had he not brought Hazard down the Chelsea player would’ve had a clear shot so therefore Koscielny should have seen red.

Rosickŷ could also have seen red for a kick at Fabregas. He may have got the ball but it was a wild swing while his opponent was on the floor. Credit to Fabregas for not feigning injury as some players may do!

Another player that was shown a yellow instead of a red card was Danny Welbeck. Immediately after the Rosickŷ/Fabregas incident, Fabregas had the by the touchline. Welbeck came steaming in and both feet left the floor therefore he couldn’t be in control of the tackle and should’ve received his marching orders. Not sure the view Martin Atkinson had but his assistant had a very clear view and should helped the assistant out.

Callum Chambers was lucky not to be shown a second yellow card in this very feisty London derby. So why was the referee so reluctant to give players red cards? You would have to ask the man himself. I know sometimes in the big games especially between rivals the challenges can be a little harder than normal and the referee will want to show common sense to try and keep all 22 players on the pitch but the players safety has to be the priority for the referee and no matter what the game or how long has gone sometimes red cards just have to be issued. Not the best day in the office for Martin Atkinson but he is a good referee and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.

IMG_3298.JPGThe managers felt the referee needed more to deal with!

On social media after the West Ham versus QPR game I read many hammers fans saying how bad Anthony Taylor is for disallowing a 3rd goal the East London side. The Rangers ‘keeper Rob Green took a quick free kick inside his area which Valencia intercepted from a few yards away and slotted the ball home. The referee disallowing the goal had nothing to do with distance. All free kicks as well as goal kicks need to leave the area before another player can touch the ball.

IMG_3299-0.JPGAnthony Taylor making his point to the West Ham players

How many fans feel silly for their outburst and will they be more understanding next time? Probably not a lot because nine times out of ten if a decision goes against a team you will always hear “this refs rubbish!” Or “you don’t know what you’re doing!”

Ignorance isn’t bliss

wilby610

This blog entry is a long one with not much attempt at comedy, go get yourself some biscuits and a cup of tea then settle in. I was prompted to write this blog entry after seeing my mum a few days ago. Which if my mum reads this, she will go ape shit. The reason she will go ape shit is because she will deem that I have been unhelpful to the point of mocking.  I used to be a right little git from the ages of 7 through to, well, now. Back in the day let’s say around when I was the age of 8 I had to basically act as an interpreter making phone calls on her behalf, due to my parents both being deaf. On occasion it would be quite high end stuff that my tiny mind couldn’t comprehend.  There were times where I would have to…

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Old blogs

I’m pleased with the response from my new blog and amazed at the number of countries it has been read in! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read it.

As I mentioned I did blog a little before so thought I would post them all.

Ref Blog

Chapter 1 – how it all began

At the start of the 2001/2002 season I found myself working at a 5-a-side centre. My boss asked me if I could help out refereeing in a youth league on Sundays, even though I wasn’t qualified I said yes. A few tips was given to me and I went out out bought myself a kit, flags, red/yellow cards, note book and a whistle. The next day I was given the under 11s. I found it ok. No major issues, no real hassle from the kids or the parents and I carried on for the rest of that season. The first issue I recall dealing was a few years later when after a mistimed tackle the two players involved squared up. I called them over explained to the player fouled that there was no intent but just a missed timed tackle. I asked both to shake hands and carry on playing the game in a good spirit as prior to the challenge. This was seen by the leagues head referee and I was praised. So ten years later…… I am still part of that league but have never undertaken a referees course. In July I shall be doing that, after a conversation with a friend, who referees, inspired my to attempt to become a professional referee and reach the premier league. Let’s hope I get to the promised land!!

Chapter 2 – the course
I made my way to the Essex FA in Chelmsford. I felt nervous as I got there, not sure why as I was confident I would do well. The tutors were really friendly and welcoming which settled the nerves. The group was quite mixed, some youngsters, some people my age and a few a little older, all in all a really good group. Lots of mixed views and opinions which was good. Even though I had been refereeing for 10 years I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself! I did learn a fair bit, for me the biggest thing I learnt was about throw ins! It was really interesting to know that both of the players feet can be on the pitch as long as part of them are on the line! I revised quite hard for the exam as I have always been useless at exams but when the results were called out I was surprised to be named top of the class with 96%! I went home feeling very pleased and couldn’t wait to get going as a qualified ref!

Chapter 3 – The First Six
The first game I refereed after completing the course was a pre-season friendly that a friend and fellow ref had asked me to do, with a lift home too! Nice and easy I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The game itself wasn’t too bad, but in the second half the ‘fuck off ref!’ insults became to common so I called a player from the away team over and asked him to cut out the insults and from his reaction i thought I had gotten through to him and the rest of the players. About 5 mins later a player from the home side disagreed with a decision I had made and promptly shouted “fuck off ref you’re shit!” I thought enough was enough and called him over to be cautioned. When I asked for his name his reply was “John and that’s all you’re getting!” I noted that down along with the offence code and time then as I showed him the yellow card he walked away and said “prick!” I called him back showed him a straight red card. As he walked away He said to me “I’m not giving you a lift now!” I guess he thought that would bother me, it didn’t as I lived a 10 minute walk away! The offending players club apologised to me and arranged for another player to give me a lift home. What an introduction to men’s football tht game was!

The second game was given to me by the same friend and I had my fears it would go the same way as the first! But the manager of the home side was a qualified ref at one point had been a level 4, he assured me that his players would not step out of line. They didn’t, it was a complete contrast to the first game!

The 3rd game was the first men’s competitive game I had ever refereed. I was a little anxious as to what it would be like, but by chance one of the players was someone I had for quite friendly with on the referees course! He was quick to explain to his players that there would be no bad attitude towards me as I wouldn’t stand for it. The game passed with no real incidents apart from me falling on my face as I tried to keep up with a counter attack! I took the expected jeers with laughter and responded to a comment from a player “was you in the Olympics ref with Tom Daly?!” with “no, unfortunately I didn’t qualify!”. A nice bit of banter topped off a nice game.

Game 4 happened by mistake! I was asked to run the line at a fixture and when I turned up I was the only official! Luckily I had all my equipment with me! This game passed almost incident free until the final minute when a long ball over the top was deliberately handled by the defender, I had to make a descion whether to send the player off or not! As I looked across the line I saw he had teammates covering and the ball would’ve bounced through to the keeper so I just issued a caution. From the resulting free kick an attacker was trying to get into the defensive wall. He was leaning into the wall which resulted in him being pushed back. Words were exchanged and I asked the attacker not to lean in to the wall, he told me to shut up so I called him over to be cautioned.

The fifth game was another pre-season friendly. Which passed without incident, well almost!! A few minutes before the end the team losing 6-0 started arguing amongst themselves! It must’ve worked for them as they scored a last minute consolation goal!

The final game of ‘the six’ games required to move up to a level 7 was a good one to ref. The away team dominated but fell 2-0 down due to quick counter attacking goals. I began to wonder whether their attitude would be good or not but it was fairly good. There were obviously disagreements at some decisions that went against them but overall there wasn’t any abuse or dissent. The away team managed to pull a goal back before halftime and the second half was fairly quiet as both teams struggled in the heat! After completing the six games I look back over them and feel fairly please with my performances but feel there will always be room for improvement and I know I need to become a bit more vocal. I have been appointed to run the line on two games so will be taking notes on how an experienced referee handles things.

Chapter 4 – vets football
Today I’ve been appointed to a vets game. Wasn’t sure what to expect, a nice easy game as they’re older and more mature or a difficult one as they’ve had more years of making life difficult for referees!

Well overall it was an easy game to referee. One player who kept moaning/appealing for decisions but begun to look silly when he was the only one from his team calling for a free kick. One he wanted, he went running into an opponent, and as his opponent controlled the ball bounced off him and ended up on the floor. Only other negative was a two players had words with each other after a foul, I had played a great advantage (if I do say so myself!) but had to stop play to ensure no fisticuffs took place.

Have to say it was the quickest 90mins I have ever refereed. After getting changed I went into the bar to collect my payment. Was surprised when I was bought a pint and then given some chips! I chose to ignore the salad bar dodger joke, maybe because it’s true but as I head head home it’s nice not to be thinking ‘what a bunch of idiots they were!’

I look forward to picking up my whistle in the youth league tomorrow!

Chapter 5

So today for the first time this season I was refereeing in the youth league where I started 10 years ago. Only preseason friendlies mind, but it was nice to be over there, catching up with fellow referees that I hadn’t seen since the end of last seasons.

I was given three games to do and all went well and more or less passed without any incident. Only one questionable incident, I gave a penalty and the manager was adamant that his defender got the ball bit I explained to him that I saw not contact with the ball and from the view I had it was 100% a penalty. He seemed to be ok and I think we agreed to disagree, we shook hands and all was well. However if this was a league game I doubt he would’ve been so calm.

It was nice to be back over refereeing in the youth league. I feel being officially qualified has given me a bit of extra confidence and I look forward to next week when the league games start.

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Above emailed in!!

Chapter 6 – Getting used to life as a qualified referee

I wouldn’t say my style of refereeing has changed since passing the referees course but I do feel I’m refereeing with a lot more confidence. A few chapters ago I mentioned an area I know I needed improvement on, player management and discipline. I feel the extra confidence I now have, has improved that area a lot.

A key part of controlling the game as a referee is knowing when a word will be enough and knowing when to bring out the cards.

Today I refereed a college match. The game was played in really good spirit and I didn’t really have much to do. I spoke to three players throughout the match for three different things. Each time I explained my decision and told that anything similar and I would take further action. Each player responded in a great manner. Fully accepting they had done wrong and allowing me to finish speaking before apologising and then moving back into their position. The adults I have refereed should take note, especially the guy I sent off in my very first game as a qualified ref (chapter 2)!

I do not get as nervous now before games and feel this is allowing me to develop as a referee!

CHAPTER 7

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, mixture of reasons but I’m back! Today I refereed a men’s group cup game, so no chance of extra time!!

I had to make decision before I’d blown the whistle. The weather hasn’t been great in my part of the world in the last week or so and the pitch was a bit boggy in the middle. I thought about and I spoke with both managers had said I was happy to start but if players kept diving in I would have to seriously think about calling off. The game started well and the middle actually became less sticky as the first half went on.

The game was played in a fantastic spirit and was really shocked when I gave a goal kick the attacking player, thinking it was a corner, called me a prick! I called him over and issued him with a yellow card and ask him to calm down. It wasn’t said in an aggressive manner so felt a yellow was enough.

Second half was almost identical to the first with little problems. The player on a yellow attempted a tackle but it was slightly missed timed. I played advantage and the shot went over. I called the player over to have a word with him. While he was walking over I was thinking if I should show him a second yellow. But I decided it was an honest attempt to win the ball so I told him he was on his last warning. After that he was no problem.

The game was ruined by a couple of players as I was walking back to the changing room some nasty comments were made. Almost childlike but still very nasty. I will report the team to the authorities as I feel there’s no place for that in football!

A sour end to a good game!

I need to stop taking breaks in blogging! A lot has happen since I last blogged!

I received my first assessment! I felt I refereed the game well but the assessor pointed out so many simple mistakes I was making. But at the level I am refereeing at the moment the main thing is to know the laws of the game and to be able to be in control of the match. Those were the strong points if my report so I was pleased with that.

The negatives I will turn in to positives. I now know what assessor will be looking for. Although they will differ in specifics I feel I can do excellent the next time I am assessed.

I received and email to be an assistant referee at a league two clubs ground. Thinking it would be a youth game or even a corporate game I accepted thinking it would an ‘easy game’. I couldn’t have been more wrong!!

I found out on the way to the game that the game was between Southend United and Stevenage Borough, and it was the first teams!!

Chapter 8 – All mouth and no action!

It’s been so long since I wrote this blog so long in fact I’ve had to start a new account as I couldn’t log in to my original one. I started a new job in the summer meant the number of games I have been involved in has dramatically reduced. I will repost my old blogs at a later date.

I look back on last season and was pleased with the games I had and the experience I had gained and was really gutted when I was no longer able to referee as much. At the end of the season I spent most of the summer refereeing at West Ham’s Boleyn ground in corporate games which included a team of ex pros. A fantastic experience. I was also asked by a friend of mine to referee at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge again a fantastic experience. Refereeing at premier league grounds has taught me one thing, professional referees need to have a very high level of fitness as the pitches are massive!

Since my number of games I am able to do now is not even one a week I thought I would start to write about refereeing decisions in the professional game.

I think there’s only one place to start, Villa Park. The referee in question Chris Foy. Two red cards and a manager sent away.

I’ll start with the first red card, issued to Willian for two yellow cards. The first issued is a good decision based on what was taught to me on the referees course (careless = fk, reckless = yellow card, excessive force = red card) the challenge was definitely reckless.

I will always try to defend referees as I have some understanding of what they do but I’m not sure I can defend Mr Foy on the second yellow card. Not only is it not a yellow card it’s not even a foul. I’m sure he will be disappointed when he watches match of the day!

The Ramieres challenge is nothing short of disgraceful. No intention to go for the ball only the intention of hurting a fellow professional. Challenges like that should see bans extended beyond 3 games.

As for Mourinhio I’m not sure why he was sent away. I can only assume he said something the Chris Foy didn’t approve of.

Next the decision of Lee Mason to dismiss Vincent Kompany in Hull City vs Man City. My first reaction was that Jelavic had fouled the Man City defender, a view shared by Kompany. But the replays clearly show he tripped over his own leg so for me that is a fantastic decision my Lee Mason.

Stoke at home to West Ham. The away side had a good shout for a penalty in the second half. In my opinion it should have been awarded. The defenders arm was in an unnatural position and had it not been there andy Carroll would’ve won the header. So a mistake there from Craig Pawson.

Mr Pawson’s assist made a fantastic decision to rule out Kevin Nolan’s goal for offside. The law states the attacking player needs to be level with the second last defending player.

At Old Trafford the following day we see madness as Liverpool are awarded 3 penalties. Before the first one, Rafael is booked for a poor challenge on Steven Gerrard. The penalty is awarded for handball by Rafael. Definite penalty and I think the right decision not to give a second yellow. My reason was that it’s difficult to say if he deliberately moved his hand towards the ball but if he hadn’t handled it, Suarez would’ve gone past him. So all in all the right call by Mark Clattenburg.

The second penalty was a blatant push I’m the back by Jones not a difficult decision to make.

The third I feel shouldn’t have been awarded as although Vidic made no contact with the ball he also made no contact with Sturridge. So you could say justice was done by the penalty being missed. You can’t blame Clattenburg for awarding the penalty as the dive by Sturridge was timed to perfection. In real time it looked like a foul it’s only from a different camera angle and slowed down its clear it wasn’t.

Liverpool should’ve had another penalty when Carrick clipped Sturridge. Swings and roundabouts as they say.