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.

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 9 – Mistaken Identity

Who’d be a referee? A question Andre Marriner maybe asking himself after taking charge of Chelsea vs Arsenal.

He was in a great position to see Oxlade-Chamberlain handle the ball so what followed will be hard for him to justify. Mr Marriner gave himself a bit of time before deciding to award the penalty. His assistant wasn’t flagging, maybe they had a brief conversation via their radios but nonetheless the correction decision.

He then decided to issue a red card to Kieran Gibbs. I can only assume he lost concentration for a brief moment in deciding if to award a penalty that he issued the card to the wrong player. Not only that, it was the wrong card that was taken out. Did he forget which pocket he’d put the yellow card? The shot was going wide so wasn’t stopping a goal scoring chance and was only worthy of a yellow card.

20140324-083154.jpgWas Marriner thinking about his dinner?

Arsenal will be able to appeal the card on the grounds of mistaken identity. I’m not sure they will be able to save Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from a ban as it may not have be so obvious to Andre Marriner that the shot wasn’t going in. Although having said that I’m not sure what he was thinking about before he awarded the penalty. His dinner that night perhaps?

I’m sure he’ll have plenty to think when the FA give him a couple weeks off!

20140324-083900.jpgMarriner will not be getting the thumbs up from the FA

All referees make mistakes from time to time. I once sent off a player for two yellow cards when in fact I hadn’t booked earlier. I booked a number 10 in the first half. Then midway through the second half I blew for a free kick. I felt this was a caution and as the player came over to me I could see that he had #10 on his shorts and from my book the #10 had been booked so I showed him a red after his ‘second’ yellow.

I realised my mistake after he verbally abused me for 5 minutes. I told the manager he could bring on a replacement and that player was not to player any further part. I explained my decision to the opposing manager who praised me for admitting my mistake.

Can’t see that happening in the professional game though.

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.